Dried Ground Cherries

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left to right: naked ground cherries, cinnamon raisin dried ground cherries, whole ground cherries with their husks, ground cherry plant 

photo by vsimon

Last year we had 1, this year we 7 ground cherry plants. Some we paid for, some were grown from saved seeds. Some were volunteer plants from last year. This could get out of hand.

A purchase plant was labeled “pineapple ground cherry”, most were simply “ground cherry.” We taste tested each one and didn’t notice any difference in flavor, size, or color. I think the pineapple name is just a marketing ploy.

Vince has already put up 26  jars of ground cherry jam. That is probably enough, even for gift giving. We have also had ground cherry and raspberry crisp. But what to do with this continuing embarrassment of riches? Dry them!! 

We have a super duper commercial quality dehydrator, with a thermostat and a fan. We use it every year for sliced dried tomatoes. Dried until they are thin and crispy, they are easy to crumble by hand into recipes. 

Reasoning, if we didn’t dry them as long, dried ground cherries might be like raisins. They are a similar texture.

We tried drying them whole and halved. Whole took much too long, up to 24 hours. Halved, they are done overnight.

Since ground cherries are not as sweet as grapes, it follows dried ones are not as sweet as raisins.

So they could go either way, sweet or savory. We tried many seasonings. Sugar and cinnamon for sweet. Simple salt and pepper, garam masala, smoked and hot paprika for savory. You can probably think of many other combinations.

The sweets can be summery additions to your breakfast cereal or muffins this fall and winter. The savory ones make good bar snacks. Think of munching on chewy nutless seasoned nuts.

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whole and halved ground cherries with sugar and cinnamon on drying racks photo by vsimon

Sugar and Cinnamon Ground Cherries

These are plenty sweet. As sweet, or sweeter than raisins.

2/3 cup sugar (we used white granulated)

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

8 cups husked ground cherries, halved (about 2.5 pounds)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Toss with halved ground cherries.

Place in a single layer on 5 drying racks.

Dry overnight at about 115 degrees. We put the dehydrator outside so it doesn’t heat up the house.

Store in glass containers. Or plastic, if you must. I like to put them in the freezer, they don’t take up much room. It isn’t necessary, I just like to store lots of things in the freezer.

Savory Dried Ground Cherries

Simply halve and sprinkle your choice of seasoning on them. Be careful, a little goes a long way. Start with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for 8 cups of ground cherries. They shrink by more than half and the flavoring gets concentrated. You can always add more after they are dry.

What seasonings would you try?

Quinoa Salmon Salad with Fresh Lemon and Dill

quinoa salmon  dill lemon salad

quinoa salmon lemon and dill salad photo by vsimon

It’s too hot to cook!

Luckily, I have some leftover salmon from yesterday. What to do with it?

Quinoa is quick on the stovetop, it won’t heat up the kitchen.  I have lemons and celery in the fridge. Dried tomatoes in the freezer. And lots of fresh dill in the garden.

Quinoa colors

White, red, black, purple, orange? I have used white and red, the only difference is the color. Any color would work here, use whatever you have.

Wild or farm raised salmon?

There is only one answer for me, wild caught Alaskan salmon. Click on the link for a thorough review of all the issues at World’s Healthiest Foods website.

Lemons 1, 2, or 3?

You choose. Are you timid, or do you like lots of tangy lemon flavor? Are you making this to serve right away, or for tomorrow?

We like sharp, fresh lemon flavor and heady aroma. Personally, I almost don’t think you can get too much. And the flavor fades over time. So I made this with the zest and juice of two lemons for tonight. And will add the zest and juice of a third lemon before I serve the leftovers tomorrow.

I buy fresh lemons by the bag, not one at a time. Don’t even bother with that insipid bottled juice. And add fresh zest to anything that calls for juice.

And I hope you know, fresh lemons are a great way to add flavor to foods without adding a whole bunch of salt.

Dried tomatoes?

Yep, that is what I have. Dried from last years garden. Red, yellow and orange tomatoes. I know they look like colored bell peppers in the picture, but they are tomatoes. Come to think of it, sweet peppers would be good in this salad, but I didn’t have any.

I keep our thin dried tomatoes in the freezer because they are crispy and easy to break up into smaller pieces by hand. At room temp they are leathery and I need to cut them with a knife or scissors.

Our crop of garden tomatoes won’t be ripe until August. But by all means, use fresh tomatoes if you have good ones. I would stir in about 1 cup diced raw tomatoes at the end. Don’t cook them with the quinoa.

Fresh dill

Dill is a two-fer. The seeds and the soft feathery green fronds each have their purpose. Use the fronds here. Vince puts whole seed spays in jars of pickles. They are pretty and add flavor there.

Go ahead, plant this fragrant herb in your garden. Dill is so easy, you will only have to do it once. You will get volunteers every year after.

Sow a few seeds it in the veggie or the flower garden. It quickly grows about three feet high, with a starburst of seeds at the top.

If you can’t find a packet of seeds, just buy dill seeds in the spice aisle and plant them.

Dried dill weed works well in this recipe too. It is mild, don’t be afraid to use a few tablespoons. But you will miss out on the distinctive fragrance of fresh stalks.

Fresh herbs are another great help to add flavor without lots of salt too.

Quinoa Salmon Salad with Lemon and Dill

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of water

1/4 cup dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 pound cooked salmon, flaked

1/2 cup diced celery

1, 2, or 3 fresh lemons, zest and juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill weed, soft fronds only

salt to taste

Check the quinoa package to see if you need to rinse it before cooking. Many kinds are now prewashed, saving you a step.

Add quinoa, water and dried tomatoes to a saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Then cover the pan and let stand for 15 more minutes. It always comes out fluffy, not mushy this way.

Spread the quinoa tomato mixture on a rimmed sheet pan to cool quickly.

When cool, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add celery and dill.

Add the zest and juice of as many lemons as you like. Toss to mix thoroughly. Taste and chill until ready to serve.

Flower garnish

Did you notice the nasturtiums in the photo above? They are from our garden too, and edible. The flowers are bright, beautiful and peppery. They provide a surprising kick of heat. They are easy to grow in full sun, flowering all summer long.