The Numbers (updated)

131 148 half pint jars

35 41 pint jars

30 pint and a half jars

40 quart jars

256 279 total jars

It was a lot of work to fill 256 279 jars, but I spread it out over the whole summer.  I started in April when the rhubarb is fresh and juicy, making “Old Recipe” Rhubarb Jam and Rhubarb Chutney.

Old Recipe Rhubarb Jam

Old Recipe Rhubarb Jam          photo by vsimon

Today I put the last of my fermented dill pickles into jars from the crock.

In between I have put up 91 jars of jams and jellies, 107 130 jars of pickles, 9 jars of relish, 40 jars of salsa/sauce, and even 9 jars of ketchup.  

We have packed away everything our garden could produce, from fresh rhubarb, red beets, green beans, red currents, lots of ground cherries, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and cucumbers.  

Three types of cucumbers that were new to me this year.   The best being the “Pearl” cucumbers.   Just so, so where the “Lemon” cucumbers (taste like regular cucumbers), and not to be planted again where the extremely small “Mexican Gherkins”.  More on the cucumbers later.


Mexican Gherkins                         photo by vsimon

And there where new things to try this year.  For the first time I made salsa.  Not the crisp, freshly chopped refrigerated type, but the cooked and then canned type.   Also new this year was a shot at making ketchup.  Ketchup without all the sugar or high fructose corn syrup found in store bought ketchup.

After much searching I was able to locate (from my sister Betty) the recipe my mother used to make the most wonderful, sweet pickle relish.  I have a niece who used to request this yearly as a Christmas gift from my mother.  

The biggest “new” thing I tried this year was to pickle green beans.  We now have a total of 18 pints of pickled green beans.   Three or four varieties of green beans where used along with a variety of different spices trying to find the best combination. 

Here is a partial list of the spices used: dill,  fennel,  caraway,  garlic,  black pepper corns,  coriander,  turmeric,  and red pepper flakes.  

Until we sample all the varieties, I will not know which of these spice combinations worked best.  Some will be repeated next year and some most likely will not.

.Preserve Shelves

Our winter stockpile                            photo by vsimon

So here are the shelving units in our basement stocked with all the great foods to be enjoyed through coming months.  (Notice the water bath canner and the dehydrator on the lower right hand shelf.)

So, if after reading this you start to question Linda’s writing style, please note that this post is penned by me, Vincent. 

And it hasn’t quite ended yet as I still have a grocery bag full of sweet and hot peppers to put up.   Any suggestions?   Have a great pickled peppers recipe?  Or maybe an “all peppers” salsa?   Let me know.

Update 10-8-2010 Today I pickled my peppers. Three different recipes, 23 jars. Short Brine Peppers, Pickled Sweet Peppers, and Marinated Sweet Peppers. All from “The Joy Of Pickling“. We now have many gifts for the holidays. Hope everyone loves pickles, jams, and salsas.

Ground Cherry Salsa

groundcherry (5)

ground cherries in husks photo by vsimon

Salsa is perfect in the heat of the summer. Super fresh produce, raw, ready in a few minutes. No need to heat up the kitchen. And in this case, no need to venture to the store. We use what is ripe in the garden.

Have you ever heard of ground cherries?

We grow the usual- beans, tomatoes, cucumbers. And the unusual.

We ran across a ground cherry plant at the nursery this spring and  said, “there must be room for that.” And we are delighted with our ground cherries. These are new to us, the old timers are more likely to know about ground cherries than we are. They probably would not think of salsa though.

Ground cherries grow in their own package. A papery husk protects them. It might be edible (I do not know), but I doubt it is palatable. Pop the golden colored fruit out of the husk before eating. Green fruits are not ripe yet.

What do they taste like?

We have been trying to describe the flavor to each other.

Sweet? Yes, moderately, not a sweet as a grape.
Vanilla? Maybe.
Pineapple-ish? Maybe.
Cream? She says yes, he says no.
Tomato-ish? He says yes, she says, “now that you mention it”.
Musky? Slightly.

You can see it is a bit difficult to nail down this complex flavor. It could pair well with sweet or savory dishes.

What could you do with ground cherries?

Jam for sure. A sauce for pork tenderloin could work. Of course, pie or tarts. Mixed into coffee cakes. Covered with dark chocolate. How do you use them?


ground cherry plant 

ground cherry plant photo by vsimon

How to grow ground cherries.

They are easy, easy, easy. Plant a small plant in a sunny spot. Give it plenty of room. In Wisconsin, fruits start to ripen in late July, and continue until frost. We started with one plant. I suspect ground cherries will be like dill. You only need to plant it once. Next year volunteers will sprout all over the garden. Right now that sounds appealing to me. I will let you know if I change my mind next year.

How to harvest.

Ripe ground cherries fall off the plant and land on the ground. Hence the name. The papery husk keeps it clean. Simply pick up the yellow ripe fruit. In theory, these “cherries” are easy to reach, so this could be a good job for short people.

But it feels like I am doing yoga in the garden while harvesting ground cherries. There is a lot of twisting and reaching to get to all of them out from under the sprawling plant. At first, we did this about every three days. Now we harvest every day.

We have been harvesting ground cherries for about two weeks now. First we made a simple, right from the garden salsa, see recipe below. Then we added them to mixed fruit salad, and liked it. Now we keep them in a bowl on the counter and eat them out of hand. We hope to harvest enough for jam or chutney soon.

About the other salsa ingredients

We also are trying carrot peppers. This is a hot pepper that looks like a small carrot. What you think is carrot in the photo is really the pepper. I like sweet and heat, so added it to the ground cherries. It was really hot. Not as hot as a habanero, but plenty hot. So I added diced cucumber to cool it down. And cilantro because I love it. Hot, cold, sweet, heat, herbal. It’s all good. This is a perfect fresh side dish for a Mexican menu.

ground cherry salsa

ground cherry and cucumber salsa photo by vsimon

Ground Cherry and Cucumber Salsa

ingredients metric measures
1/2 cup husked and diced ground cherries 70 gm
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumbers 180 gm
1 carrot pepper, a few slices for garnish,
the rest diced fine
20 gm
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 15 gm

Mix it up. Any leftovers keep for a day or two in the fridge.

You may not have access to ground cherries this year. I am not likely to find them at my supermarket, but they might be available at a farmers market. They are fun to play with and are worth planting in your garden next year. Stay tuned for a few more ground cherry recipes.

*This post will be submitted to Grow Your Own #33, a twice a month recipe roundup, hosted this time by MomGateway.  Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes started Grow Your Own nearly two years ago. Grow Your Own celebrates foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. Reason enough for a celebration!