Using the Midwest’s Bounty: Ground Cherry-Coconut Jam

Inspired by the ground cherries at the farmers market, I decided to make jam out of them. Their vaguely tropical flavor, reminiscent of mangos and melons, pairs nicely with coconut. Additionally, ground cherries have plenty of pectin, so you needn’t add any when making this jam. This recipe is for a very small batch—it makes one 8-oz. or two 4-oz. jars. You may wind up with a little more, but not enough for a 3rd jar—just refrigerate it if that’s the case.

Ground_Cherry_Jam

What You’ll Need

  • colander or strainer
  • measuring cups (solid)
  • measuring spoons
  • saucepan
  • bowl
  • potato masher or immersion blender (optional)
  • wooden spoon
  • small plate for gel test (optional)
  • stockpot or canner: must be large enough to hold filled jars with at least 1 inch of water above them
  • chopping board and knife (optional)
  • Ingredients

    • 2 cups ripe, husked ground cherries1
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 2-3 Tbsp chopped dried unsweetened coconut flakes; if the flakes are large, chop them them up into smaller pieces

    Making the Jam

    1. Rinse the ground cherries and drain in a colander or strainer.
    2. Place drained ground cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan large enough to hold everything.
    3. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until the sugar has fully melted, mixing regularly with your spoon. You may mash the berries, which gives a more “jammy” texture and releases the little seeds. Or you may use an immersion (stick) blender after cooking to mash up the berries (that’s what I do).
    4. Stir in the coconut.
    5. Place the mixture in a bowl, let cool, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
    6. Sterilize your jars, bands, and funnel and get your canner ready.
    7. Place lids in a bowl filled with very hot water. If, during the cooking and canning process the water cools down, simply drain it and add more hot water. This softens the gasket for proper sealing of the jars.
    8. Place the jam contents into a saucepan and, over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.
    9. Cook until the proper gel stage is reached—this can take 10-20 minutes or so. I use the cold plate test2.
    10. Once gel stage is reached, pour the jam into your sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
    11. Seal, cover the canner and bring to a boil. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
    12. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let stand for 5 minutes, then remove jars from canner, placing them on a clean towel in a draft-free spot.
    13. Test seals after at least 12 hours. If a seal has failed, simply put the jar in your fridge and use it within a couple of months.

    1Ripe ground cherries are a golden yellow/orange. If you find green ones when husking, discard them as they are not ripe and toxic, according to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

    2Place a small amount of jam onto a chilled plate (I use one that’s been in the freezer for at least an hour). Let it cool for a minute or two and then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it’s set. I like a looser set, so if you want it firmer, make sure the wrinkling is pretty solidly evident.

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