By Brooke Marshall
I’ve definitely hit my max with canning summer crops this year. The thought of heating up my canning pot is starting to make me irritable. I have a healthy stash of condiments, sauces, and preserves for winter, so I’m pleased and ready to call it quits. This past weekend I made my last batch of tomato sauce and last night I made a small batch of nectarine-lime jam. I had my first failed seal of the season last night, which isn’t a bad track record, but it was upsetting because the batch of jam I made was so small it hardly seemed worth heating up my canning pot in the first place. Oh well, I have some lovely nectarine jam in the fridge now.
Before leaving preserving altogether this season, I wanted to share a preserve I made from Pennypack Farm’s delicious ground cherries. Several weeks ago, I bought four pints at the market “just to snack on”. Why one person thinks they need four pints of ground cherries to snack on in a week is still beyond me, but I know in the moment, I couldn’t resist because they’re so wonderfully unique I felt I needed as many as I could fit in my market bag.
If you’re not familiar with ground cherries, you should stop by Pennypack’s stand to check them out. They look like little orange tomatillos and are closely related to them. The fruit is surrounded by a husk that reveals what looks like a smooth yellow-orange tomato. They don’t taste like tomatoes though. They have a sweet and tart flavor that’s unlike anything you’ve probably tried before. My understanding is they’re called ground cherries because they fall to the ground when they’re ripe. Regardless of whether they’re picked off the ground or off the plant, I look forward to them every summer.
So back to my four pints of these things! I decided four pints was too much for snacking and thought I should try to make a preserve out of them. So I did, and the result, while not exactly what I expected, was pretty darn good. I expected them to get sweeter after cooking, but I ended up with a jam on the savory side. Cooking the ground cherries down also made the jam dense with seeds, which gave an interesting texture that I like. I didn’t know what to pair the jam with at first, but I found it’s a great accompaniment to cheese. I had some Tomme Brebis-Chevis in the fridge that was recommended to me at the cheese counter at Di Bruno Bros. The two together made an amazing pair. I want to go back to get more cheese, but I’m worried I’ll be disappointed. The fine print on the label reads, “A perfectly blended mixed milk cheese from the Pyrenees. This small production cheese is imported in small, small batches to the US. Get it while it’s here.” I want to believe this is a marketing ploy and I can get this cheese for my ground cherry jam whenever the mood strikes, but I’m probably wrong on that one. I’m sure there are other cheeses that pair equally well with the jam. I hope you’ll give it a try. I know I’ll be looking for more things to slather with this jam.
GROUND CHERRY JAM
Makes ¾ – 1 pint
- 4 dry pints of ground cherries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ tsp grated fresh ginger
- juice and zest from ½ a lemon
- Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until “jammy” (I know this is a very technical term). A method to tell when your jam is “jammy” is to run your mixing utensil along the bottom of the pot. When the jam doesn’t rush to fill the space, it’s done.
- When done, ladle the jam into jars and store in the refrigerator after it cools a bit. The jam will store for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.