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Ground Cherry Preserves for Ma Ingalls

September 19, 2017


3 cups of prepared ground cherries (husks removed, washed)

1 cup sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (not powdered)

1 whole star anise

pinch of salt

Optional: “real fruit” powdered pectin


  1. Combine fruit, sugar and ginger in a large pot. Bring to rolling boil, stirring frequently.

  2. Note: At the end of the first step, I added a heaping teaspoon of pectin (because my mother always did). Next time, I would try it without to see if it would set up on its own.

  3. Reduce heat to steady simmer, stirring occasionally until fruit and sugar integrate, about ½ hour.

  4. Add ginger, salt, and star anise. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

  5. Remove from heat. Remove the star anise. Ladle into two pint jars.  I froze one and put one in the fridge.


Caroline Quiner Ingalls once wrote to Laura's sister Carrie (who was sitting her homestead claim), "Plant your ground cherries in the house as you do tomatoes."  Ground cherries, related to tomatillos, are native to the prairies and Great Plains.  They grow and fruit in the summer, and my plants sprawled to about four feet wide, so give them room.  I got my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri.

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© 2018 Marta McDowell