Champagne Ground Cherry Jam

Our business will be providing hors d’oeuvres for our local community theatre’s wine and cheese donor reception this weekend, and I’ve had a hankering to come up with something new and special.  I also happen to have several thriving ground cherry plants that I’ve wanted to make jam with.  Add a bottle of champagne that has been sitting around my house forever, and I had a fabulous plan.

Ground cherries are related to tomatoes, and they look a bit like tomatillos in that they grow inside a paper husk.  Some say they taste a little like pineapple.  While I can get there from what I taste, I think it’s a bit misleading.  Expect pineapple and you’ll be sorely disappointed.  Start by expecting tomatoes when you bite into one, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the additional sweetness.

To make this jam, I removed the husks and rinsed the fruit, then halved and quartered the larger fruits, leaving the smaller ones whole.  Into a stainless steel pot, with the addition of enough water to not quite cover the fruit, and onto the stove over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes.  I stirred occasionally and mashed every once in a while, then watched for the whole mess to get soft and not separate from the water.  While waiting, I opened the bottle of champagne.  You know, to make sure that it was still good.  Turns out that it was, and I knew that I was only going to use a small amount, so I poured some into a wine glass and discovered that mixed half-and-half with sumac-ade, I had myself a Forager’s Mimosa.  Sweet.

After I was happy with the ground cherry pulp, I pureed it with an emersion blender, then added white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, and champagne.  Then I simmered the whole mess for about 15-20 minutes longer, until it had reached the consistency I wanted.  I wasn’t planning on sealing this in jars, but the amount of acidity would have been fine to do so.  If I’d wanted to, I would have been more concerned if it had cooked long enough set the gel and wondered whether I should have added pectin.  I found conflicting reports on whether ground cherries contain pectin or not; I’ve also recently made my own pectin from crab apples (blog coming soon!) but I didn’t want to waste it or take the time to mess with it.  We’ll have to save that test for next time.

Last step was to remove it from the heat and add a tiny bit of vanilla, then pour into jars.  Once they’ve cooled, I’ll keep them in the fridge until the event this weekend, where I’ll serve it with a sharp cheese and crackers.  Yum!

By cobbling together what seemed like the best parts of several jam recipes, plus the addition of champagne and vanilla, and I think I’ve created something fun.  Hope it’s a hit!

Champagne Ground Cherry Jam
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Recipe type: appetizer
Author: Angela Davis
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: 2 1/2 half pint jars
Ingredients
  • 3 c. ground cherries
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T. sparkling white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Remove husks from ground cherries and rinse. Quarter or halve larger fruits, leave small fruits whole.
  2. Put into stainless steel pot and add enough water to not quite cover. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, or until pulp and water are no longer separate.
  3. Add sugars, lemon juice and sparkling wine.
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Pour into jars. Cool on counter. Store in refrigerator.

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About Angela

I'm a mom, business owner, hippie, forager, real food advocate, redneck libertarian who dreams of self-sufficiency. With my amazing husband and two kids, I raise chickens, rabbits, organic gardens, fruit trees and, hopefully, awareness. That's all an eclectic mix, and it leads to a lot of interesting pursuits. Crazy shit, if you will. Generally speaking, I'm not an expert on anything I do, but I am passionate about learning, particularly skills that seem to be fading from humanity, and I am not afraid to try things and figure it out as I go along. Now I share my exploits with you, and I hope you'll try something new, too.
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