Friday, September 10, 2010

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

Yes, life can be like a bowl full of cherries, but in this case, there are no pits! What am I talking about? In this case I am talking about an adorable little fruit that I have heard of, but until recently, had never seen.

The Ground Cherry.

On a recent visit to my local farmers market, I ran across a vendor I hadn’t seen there before, and was delighted to find some offbeat selections, as well as handmade pottery. What really caught my eye were several little pint baskets marked “Ground Cherries”. When I inquired about them, the vendor quickly offered me one to try. Tiny little yellow fruits, encased in a papery husk (as seen in this blog post), similar to that of a tomatillo, produce a flavor that to me was nearly a cross between a cherry and a tomato. It was a very unusual but mild flavor that quickly had me wanting more.

Unfortunately, although I kept returning to the market, the vendor did not. See, they aren’t regulars at our market, and I can’t say as I blame them, because there is a much greater venue for them about an hour south of us in Edwardsville. Lucky for me, though, Nathan and Amy (of 2 Acre Farm) had given me their contact info (and blog address – woo hoo!) and I was able to track them down and get several more pints from them so I could make a batch of jam.

I had already shipped my box for the Jam Exchange at the time, so I didn’t get to include a jar of this, although I would have loved to, but Ginny and I had fun making it while I was in Iowa visiting her last weekend.

We husked all the cherries, and then used the recipe that Nathan included with my cherries, although we had to adjust a little for a slightly larger quantity of fruit, hence a slightly longer boiling time.

The end result was a wonderfully tangy jam that I am looking forward to having on biscuits for breakfast this winter. I’ll definitely be looking for these again next year!

Check out 2 Acre Farm’s blog and see all the great stuff they’ve been growing this year!

Ground Cherry Jam
3 cups ripe ground cherries
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup water
1 package Sure-Jel
3 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, add ground cherries, lemon, water, and Sure-Jel.
Bring cherries to a boil and mash them.
Be sure they are all mashed so that they will absorb the sugar. Add the sugar, then return to a boil and continue boiling up to 8 minutes, or until the mixture gels using a cold plate to test it.
Makes 4 half pint jars.


Bev said...

Thanks for the link to 2 Acre Farm. I especially love reading your blog for the local references and flavor (no pun intended you foodie you). Are you aware of any other blogs by folks in my hometown?

Writer Lady said...

Where do they grow? I'd love to have my own ground cherries.

Krista said...

What a cool little fruit. I know I have heard the words, "ground cherry" somewhere, but must have dismissed them from my mind because I didn't have any idea about what they were. So they don't have pits, they have seeds? They are tomatoes...but tart like cherries? Interesting! Definitely worth a try. I'll have to keep an eye out for them. The jam sounds yummy!

Ty'sMommy said...

Bev - I wish I could say I knew of some more, but I can't. I haven't been able tolocate anything else local.

Write Lady - this is my first experience with the cherries, so I am not sure where they grow best, but we're in central Illinois, so I'd guess pretty much anywhere with similar climates would be good. I do think I remember reading that they prefer sandy soil.

Krista - yep! Seeds! Isn't that strange? They are the neatest little things. I can't wait to get some again next year! I am seriously going to look into planting my own, I think.