Jude makes Jam

Montreal is blustery and cold. Her sweat inducing summer days are long gone; her thick leafy trees are turning burnt orange and shriveling up brown. People are riding their bikes wearing ear-mitts, scarves, gloves, and heaven forbid even toques! Yes, fall is upon us. Luckily, before summer skipped and slipped so quickly away, like she has a habit of doing, I bottled her tight in jars, safe now until a winter afternoon, when the snow's blowing all around, the kettle's whistling and fresh scones are coming out of the oven. Then I'll pop the lid off one of my jars and inhale the sweet citrus apple gold smell of ground cherry jam, or as we say here in Quebec, cerries-de-terre.

I'd never tried them until I moved to Montreal, nor had I heard of them. Apparently, they do grow out West, but not as prolifically as they do in Eastern Canada where they flourish in the hot summer sun and are often referred to as weeds (similar to the humble, but prolific, western blackberry). Someone at work brought me ground cherry jam that his mother made and I only had a little spoonful, but this juicy orange berry whose relation to the Chinese lantern family is recognizable by its delicate papery skin, produces une confiture sublime. That one spoonful was like eating warm late-summer sun and Meyer lemons and yellow plums all at once. When they started appearing at the market, in huge baskets, I admit, I was intimidated, but knew it was a necessary project.
A few weeks ago, after completing the major, more pressing tasks of my move, and with fall swirling across the city, I quickened my steps and hastened to the market to buy an enormous basket of ground cherries (we're talking more than 16 cups of berries people) determined to make some preserves that would last. I always think it's against my nature to preserve - it takes patience and much waiting for things to reduce, or boil, or sterilize, and I do love the intensity of sauteing, or frantic chopping, or quick minute sauces. But to my surprise, with a little help of Katherine's recommended super duper low-sugar, all-natural, universal do-everything pectin, I managed to produce delicious results.

Because of my schedule, I'm not home in the evenings very much, and in the day I race around the city (rather enthusiastically I might add) taking care of business. So it was in the hours after 10:oo pm that I made the jam. It took me several days to take the skins off all the berries, wash them, mash them, and make them into the aforementioned breakfast-ready delight.

I have no recipe to leave you because you can find it inside a box of Pamona's Universal Pectin, or here, and I really think it's worth using. I am not a fan of syrupy jam, call me particular (and you won't be wrong), but I like jam that can hold it's own. My sister makes the most delicious, unctuous jams I've ever tasted. They're sweet enough so that you put it on toast by the spoonful, but not so sweet you feel the crash and burn of a sugar high, and they don't sadly slip or drip off your fluffy buttermilk biscuit. It only takes a Saturday and a batch of muffins for my family to devour a whole jar! And she, uses Pamona's Pectin. I have finally found a natural foods store in Montreal that carries this brand, but before I did, she had to send me some. It was with those boxes that I made some damn terrific jam.


  1. We have a vendor at the market who sells ground cherries! And she makes jam.

    She says there is a recipe in one of her seed catalogs for ground cherry salsa. Delicious, no?

  2. Jude-Your jam is beautiful!!! What you said about not being the type of person who is suited to preserving made me laugh. I think because it made me think about why I love preserving and the kind of person I am. Why I don't love the chop and sizzle as much as you do but putting the final touch on a cake makes me giddy. In fact what it really made me think about it why we are going to be such a dynamite team...chop and sizzle with a side of patience.
    Endless love to you and your jam, I hope it's delicious

  3. I've grown ground cherries three summers on Cape Cod and not found anything I really liked to make with them. The closest I came was a jam with fresh ginger. (My suspicion is that ground cherries don't have enough acid to suit me.)

    Also liked some ground cherries in a mix of tiny tomatoes halved and slow-cooked in the oven, served as a garnish. (If you don't halve them, they don't start to dry til they burst. But what a lot of fiddly work!)

    Tried Pamona's Pectin years ago and gave up on that. Guess I'll have to give them both another try.

  4. Here it is. It's from the The Cook's Garden. (cooksgarden.com). Sometimes the ground cherries are referred to as Pineapple tomatillas and are so in this recipe.
    Pineapple Tomatilla Salsa
    2 cups chopped tomatoes
    1 cup pineapple tomatillos
    1 jalepeno seeded and chopped
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    1 tsp br sugar
    3 tbsp fresh lime juice
    salt to taste

    Combine all ingredients. Cover and fridge for 1-2 hours for flavors to meld.
    I have not tried it yet, but have ground cherries left to make jam and yes perhaps this salsa.

    I have heard good things about the pectin you wrote about, but have never tried it. My recipe does not call for pectin, just the cherries, lemon juice, water and sugar. I have to cook it for while to thicken it. 7 cups of husked berries and 4 cups sugar makes about 5 half pint jars of jam.


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