How not to can ground cherries.

ground cherries.

Sometimes, my mouth speaks before my head registers what is being said.  I'm also guilty of not being thankful on occasion, particularly when I'm hungry or tired.  A combination of these things were at play when my Mom informed me about a week ago that she was bringing me a peck of ground cherries.  "WHAT?" I had said, maybe too loud.  "I thought you liked them!" she said back.  And I do.  But a bit of sleep deprivation had maybe left me lackluster in wanting to experiment.  "What am I going to do with a peck of ground cherries?"

The first thing I needed to do was husk them.  My Husband was going to help, but I took advantage of too hot, mid-90's temps to hole up in my air-conditioned kitchen a few days ago when he was at work and husked them all myself.  I wasn't working super fast, and fortunately the babe was fast asleep for most of the time; I'm not lying that it took a few hours.  Just how many pounds is a peck of ground cherries, you ask?  Almost 5 1/2.

Now if there were some information out there about canning ground cherries, that would be helpful.  I called our extension office, and was then referred to a Madison food safety specialist who couldn't tell me how to can them whole, which is what my Mom suggested that I do with them.  I thought that Google would be a help, but after quite a bit of searching, I didn't find much.  I did find that the ground cherry is a pretty healthful thing to consume, its naturally high levels of pectin are good at keeping cholesterol in check, and it is an excellent source of vitamin A.  My logic told me that if they were preserved in an extra light sugar syrup, they should be shelf stable... but please don't take my word on it, as I was not able to confirm it anywhere.  (For the record, I processed the pint jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.)

how not to can ground cherries.

I decided to raw pack the ground cherries, not remembering to take into account the likelihood of fruit float.  The combination of raw packing and using an extra light syrup increased the chances, and my 6 pints (which held all but about 1 1/2 lbs. of the ground cherries) all appear half full.  In the future, I will try to pack them hot, letting the fruit simmer for 5 minutes or so to release some of the liquid.  I might also do a heavy syrup despite all my attempts at lowering my sugar consumption.  I'm not considering this a total fail however, because the syrup turned a bright golden yellow, and I'm looking forward to the surprise of a delicious syrup when I open my first jar.


Before experimenting with canning whole ground cherries, I did do up a little batch of the Chai Flavored Ground Cherry Preserves I made last year.  I forgot how great it was - and I think this batch was even better because I used a premium loose chai tea.  On buttered sourdough toast, I can't think of a better way to welcome fall.

chai flavored ground cherry preserves.

So my week-long project of processing ground cherry is complete, and in retrospect, I feel kind of bad for wondering aloud why my Mom would grace me with so much of this beguiling little fruit.  As I sat peeling back their little parchments I had plenty of time to think - and plenty of time to appreciate my parents and how thoughtful they both are, even when I am tired and sometimes say the wrong thing.  The golden jars of ground cherries neatly tucked on the shelves will remind me to be thankful for so many things, the change in seasons, the quiet wholesomeness of working with my hands, the prosperity of Wisconsin's land in late summer.   Little fruits that grow in their own wrappers, appearing to take flight.

on wings.