Wild About - Ground Cherries (Ground Cherry and Guajillo Chile Jam)

I was so very excited to find these ground cherries (Physalis sp.) while out on a bike ride one day last week. They're all wrapped up in a husk like a tiny tomatillo present. I'm glad to have found this new patch of ground cherries because I've been wanting to make the recipe for ground cherry preserves out of the Little House Cookbook.

I started out by faithfully following the recipe, removing the husks and cleaning the fruit. I boiled up some sugar syrup in the ratio of 4 c. sugar to 2 pounds of fruit (I had much less fruit), until it was quite thick. Then I added the cleaned ground cherries, and let them boil until they became translucent. At that point, I removed them from the heat and let them sit in the pan, covered, overnight.

The next day, I started out as instructed, bringing the fruit and syrup back to a boil, and had intended to preserve it that way. But then I tasted it, and it was really lacking something. I opened up several cupboards, looking for inspiration. It was finally the scent of chiles that stole my attention. I quickly pan-toasted a guajillo chile, and tore it into flakes to add to the jam. I let the mixture simmer long enough for the chile to rehydrate. The flavor was just right - both the ground cherry and the guajillo chile had wonderful fruit character, and there was just a slight edge of heat. And the resulting jam was pretty as a picture, too. Welcome to the flavors of my little house on the prairie.



This post is appearing as a part of Foodie Friday and Vegetarian Foodie Friday, which are great places to pick up new recipes, so go have a look.

Comments

  1. Oh, it looks sooo good! I actually have ground cherries growing in various spots in my own yard, BUT I NEVER get any. Little bugs or caterpillars or something always get inside and chow down! When I go out to touch the husks...I feel nothing but air...open it up and just a bunch of seeds!? Ugh. Some day...if I ever get any...I totally want to try this jam =)

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  2. You have them in your yard? Maybe you could save the seeds, cultivate a patch, and then protect them, like with a soapy spray or a garlic/chile spray. Those both work pretty well on bugs. Heck, you managed to cultivate purslane!

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  3. Oh you and your chile obsession! You're making me crave hot things again. You're like a Hot Pepper Pusher.

    I just saw ground cherries when I was at the market in my recent visit to New York. If I could have brought fruit across the border, I woulda, so I could try this jam.

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    1. Where can we find these ground cherries, my mom makes them and I love them

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  4. I have never heard of ground cherries :O

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  5. Hey Tigerfish! Have you had tomatillos? Ground cherries are very much like mini-tomatillos. In fact, you could easily use tomatillos to make this jam.

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  6. Aw Red, there are lots of funny jokes that I'd like to make, but in an effort to keep my blog pg, I'll refrain ;)

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  7. Nice one! That does sound good together but what would you put this on? Sandwich? Cracker? Burrito? The jam thing has thrown me since I know ground cherries are a little tomato-y - sort of.

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  8. Hi Melodie- I'm a carnivore, so it's mostly a meat condiment for me. But this type of jam is fantastic on top of all sorts of cheeses, from a squishy warm brie to a nice aged cheddar. Or for vegans, on top of bread or crackers. It's sweet and spicy all at once, a real treat for the taste buds.

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  9. Really interesting post - I've never heard of ground cherries. (Although I did read the Little House books so perhaps I've just forgotten about them!) Anyway, your preserves look so delicious - I think they'd call them a chutney here in England, but whatever you call them, they look yummy!

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  10. You got me.... I have never, ever heard of a ground cherry. You win the most interesting FF Post this week! Unofficially, since I have no authority when it come to FF posts. ;)

    :)
    ButterYum

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  11. I will expect some unclean responses via email, thanks.

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  12. I've never heard of ground cherries either!

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  13. So interesting... and I want to look up that cookbook now.
    Thanks!

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  14. I'm not entirely sure if there is any difference, so don't quote me here, but I've heard the same fruit called a husk tomato. Maybe that's more familiar?

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    1. A husk tomato is a tomatillo. Ground cherries are smaller - between the size of a pea and a small marble. Ground cherries will turn yellow when ripe.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. Where do I get guajillo chilis, and how do I pick out good ones?

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    1. If you have a Latin grocery nearby, that is the place to go. There, they will be plentiful, inexpensive, and high quality. You could also check the Mexican food section of your local grocery. Look for dried chiles that are pliable, not brittle.

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  16. I never even knew I wanted ground cherries until I saw this. Now i"m on the hunt.

    LOL!

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