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Author Topic: Peruvian Ground Cherries  (Read 1295 times)

IronNoggin

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Peruvian Ground Cherries
« on: October 15, 2018, 12:09:17 PM »

I first heard about these marvelous little bursts of unique flavor about a year ago.
As I am right into cooking, I frequent a couple of cooking sites.
One of these is run by a couple French Chefs who are damn good, and they mentioned these berries make "the absolute best seafood sauce imaginable".
That of course got me thinking...

Here's the standard description of these things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis_peruviana

After a little searching, I found a seed supplier in Ontario, ordered up a few, and started them off early inside our little greenhouse. At first they struggled, and I thought they were perhaps a lost cause. But we planted the little guys here and there, and I took off to go fishing for a month & change. When I got home, their transformation was nothing shy of amazing! They had literally jumped up to 2.5 feet in height, and had taken over most of the garden space wherever we had planted them!

Wasn't long and the berries began to form. Had to taste a few of course, and they were amazing. Very unique, like nothing I have ever tasted before. A little sweet, but not overly so, with hints of strawberry & pineapple. Interesting, and I could see why they might make a great seafood sauce.

Jump forward to yesterday.
Harvest was great. Ended up with almost 5 of the largest ziplocks full of the cherries still in their husks. They keep very well in the fridge, so we were able to stockpile them for eventual processing.

Each berry comes in it's own husk which has to be removed:



Time consuming, but well worth the effort!





Eventually I got them all husked & cleaned up:



That's about 7 1/2 pounds worth.

Then it was time to experiment.
I had found several recipes on the net, and settled on a couple of versions to try.

The first was a preserve style of product, this is what went into it:

Ingredients

    2 lb 8 oz fresh ground cherries
    1/2 cup organic cane sugar
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons pectin
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    2 shots of brandy

Instructions

Add butter to pan on medium heat. Once melted, add ground cherries and stir to evenly coat the fruit with butter. Cook and stir butter and ground cherries for a few minutes, then add 1/2 cup water to help prevent fruit scald and sticking.

Add lemon juice and let cook and reduce for about 1 hour on medium heat (depending on quantity of ground cherries and desired thickness), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The more the ground cherries reduce, the faster they can potentially start sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After one hour, prepare/sanitize your canning jars in a pot of boiling water .

Mix in pectin. Then mix in sugar and bring the pot to a quick boil to get the pectin to set. Reduce or remove from heat after the preserves reach boil, continuing to stir to prevent sticking.

Just before canning, mix in brandy and vanilla. Both of these ingredients contain volatile flavors that will dissipate with prolonged heat exposure, so adding them just before canning maximizes their flavor preservation.

Fill sanitized jars with ground cherry jam, and boil them for at least 15 minutes. Jar lids should make a "pop" sound and seal soon after removing from boiling water bath. Cool your ground cherry preserves and store them!

We tested this version, and found it just a little too sweet and firm for what I wanted in a seafood sauce. So for the next round we changed it up a little:

Ingredients

    5 lb fresh ground cherries
    1/4 cup organic cane sugar
    3 tablespoons butter
    3/4 cup water
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons pectin
    3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    3 shots of brandy

This turned out exceptionally well!

The processing:





Pretty much there:



Finished Products:



The sauce stayed slightly runny which I wanted. The first batch is more like a preserve or jam type of product. You can see the color difference with the first batch on the right being slightly darker due to a heavier concentration of the cane sugar:



And of course we simply had to try it out!
Poured over a slab of fine ling cod, it was simply delectable!!

If you're looking to try something just a little different, and downright delicious, give this one a try!
I promise you won't be disappointed!!

Cheers,
Nog
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