Ground Cherry Preserves

Every winter I pour over the pages of various seed catalogs looking for something new or unique to plant. Last spring I planted Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries.  I wasn’t absolutely sure what I would do with them, but I was game for trying out something different.

Many people love to eat them out of hand.  My family…. not so much.  That saddened me a bit, but after some researching I found that these little beauties make a wonderful jam.

I was not to be disappointed in the results.  It was amazing! 

This year my garden was a sham due to torrential rains during most of May and early June which are my prime planting months.

BUT.

I had a surprise awaiting me.

The ground cherries reseeded themselves all over my garden.  Which brought sweet joy to my heart. God is good my friends and even in poor growing conditions He provided me these little bits of sunshine.

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This year so far I have made this jam which required pectin.  Some how I botched and it is more like syrup.  I’m thinking it would be wonderful on pancakes.  So all was not lost.

I also made this scrumptious coffee cake that only three of us thought was scrumptious.  I’m having a bit of trouble talking three of my guys into the charms of these beauties.  After it sat for four days it was even better.  So, I will definitely be making this again, but with a few alterations that may help my skeptics fall in love.

I am trying to get away from the use of commercial pectin, so I have been making a lot of preserves this summer. And so my second batch became preserves.  I love the color, the consistency, the seeds.  Yes, even the seeds.  Normally this many seeds would be a HUGE deterrent, but trust me they aren’t hard and do not get caught in your teeth.

 

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This is one of my very favorite jams/preserves.  Right up there with black raspberry and for me that is saying a whole lot.  I love it on toast, biscuits, or even on my PB & J.

It’s that good.

If you find ground cherries at the farmers market grab them up or consider planting them in your garden next year.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Ground Cherry Preserves

2 lbs. husked ground cherries

1 lb cane sugar or granulated sugar

1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

In a dutch oven bring all ingredients to a low boil.   Using a potato masher mash the berries.  Cook until berries are soft.  Remove from heat. Place in glass bowl. Cover with parchment paper and top with a plate. Place the bowl in refrigerator over night. 

On the following day place preserves back into dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and cook until the preserves start to thicken.  Use a cold metal spoon to test for doneness of the preserves.

Place preserves into hot and sterilized half-pint canning jars.  Wipe down rims of the jars and top with sterilized lids and rings.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let set an additional 5 minutes. Remove from canner set on towel and let set undisturbed for 24 hours.

Remove ring wipe down the jar.  Label and store.

Yield 4-5 half-pints

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Pear Butter

Last weekend when I was at our local orchard, I picked up a 5# bag of utility Bartlett pears for $1.75.  I couldn’t pass up that deal.  They weren’t the prettiest pears I’ve seen, but I figured we would eat them right up.  Well, even though they looked ripe, they were quite hard.  I tried ripening them on the counter, but they just started rotting at the core.  So, I got busy and decided they would make excellent Pear Butter.  Now, I have never made Pear Butter before, but I made Apple Butter with my mom one year.  I got on the Internet and got a recipe that sounded good.  I tweaked it a little and this is what I came up with.

4 lbs of pears cored and chopped

1/2 – 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup white grape juice

100_3769Place cut pears in slow cooker with 1/2 c water.  Cook on high 6-7 hours or until soft.  (You could do this quicker on the stove, but I was busy with school and couldn’t keep an eye on it so I went for the ease of the slow cooker.)  Once soft run it through a food mill.  (I then placed it in the fridge to finish it up the next day.)

100_3771 Place pulp in a large stock pot add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and juice.  Cook on low heat until mixture is thick and molds to spoon. (This took about 3 hours.)  Place in hot jars, clean rims, place on lids and bands.  Hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Yields about 3 pints. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used half-pint jars, skipped the hot water bath and placed them in my freezer.

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We will be enjoying this on our toast on chilly winter mornings or as a snack after a invigorating afternoon of sledding!

Just Peachy

 

Because I don’t have enough to do…

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I present to you Mr. Protuberance P. Peach! 

He has been the source of much giggling and taking of bets to see who would get the privilege of devouring him.  Alas, we will never know because this wise momma, who presides over the hooligans, cut him up and put him in a jar!

I just finished canning the last of the peaches this morning.  I am pleased to say that I was able to can 18 quarts of peaches, make 2 batches of peach jam, whip up a peach crisp and still have a few for fresh eating, all from one bushel of peaches! YEAH!

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We LOVE peach jam! It is absolutely scrumptious and super easy to make.

If you haven’t canned before don’t fret.  You don’t need anything special or expensive.  All you need to purchase are jars, canning lids, screw on bands, pectin and peaches. They great thing is that the jars and screw on bands are re-usable!

Peach Jam

8-12 peaches or enough to make up 4 cups of fruit.

1 box of powdered pectin

5 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Wash jelly jars of pint jars in hot soapy water. Place them in a stock pot and cover them with water. Place on stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn heat down and keep them nice and hot.

Place a large pot, filled 3/4 of the way full with water, on the stove and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil wash your peaches and check for ripeness.  I usually do this by sniffing them (they should smell peachy) and by applying light pressure, if they are ripe they will give just a little.  You don’t want to use under ripe fruit that is as hard as a baseball.

Once water is boiling place peaches carefully into the water and cook for 1 minute.  Remove peaches and place them in a large bowl of cold water, set in your sink. Run cold water over them for at least a minute. 

Taking a knife cut around the peach.  The skin should come right off and if your peaches are a cling-free variety they should come of the pit easily.  Place peach slices into a blender.  Or if you desire a chunky jam mash your peaches with a potato masher and skip the blender.

Blend peach slices until smooth.  You will need 4 cups of the blended peaches so measure as you go.

Place peaches in a heavy, large pot (6-8 quarts).  Place on high heat and stir in the pectin. Bring to a full boil.

Place canning lids in hot water and keep warm.

Gradually stir in the sugar.  Continue stirring and bring to a rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat skim off any foam (I personally skip this step).  Immediately fill your hot jars to about 1/4 from the top. Wipe around the rim to remove any jam. Place lid on top and screw down the band tightly.  Invert the jars on a towel.  Continue till all jars are filled and then set timer for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes flip jars back to upright position. 

And that’s it! Now just listen for the glorious popping of sealing jars!

Let jars set undisturbed for 24 hours.