Before we continue on to tell you about the other cheesemakers we met on our Wisconsin Cheese Weekend, I need to share this perfect pairing: Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Ground Cherry Chai Preserves. You see, I spotted ground cherries at the Madison Farmers Market and naturally brought a small box home with me. I’ve heard of ground cherries growing in Pennsylvania, but I’ve never seen them at my DC-area farmers markets.
If you’re not familiar with a ground cherry, it is not really a cherry, but a bush fruit that grows in a delicate paper husk, much like a tinier and sweeter tomatillo. It has a pineapple aroma and slight spiciness that prompted me to pair it with a gingerbread chai tea I happened to have in my pantry. The resulting preserves are sweet with a seasonal spice that brings out the warm, caramel notes of Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Serve this with a fruity white wine — or an herbal chai tea or even warm apple cider — for the perfect start to your next holiday gathering.
Recipe: Ground Cherry Chai Preserves
- 1 cup ground cherries
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 gingerbread chai tea bag
1. Remove the husks from the cherries, rinse and let dry while preparing the tea-infused simple syrup.
2. In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes or until sugar is fully dissolved. Add tea bag and remove from heat. Let tea bag steep for 5 minutes, then remove.
3. Add ground cherries to the tea-infused syrup and bring back to a simmer. Cook on low heat for 40-50 minutes, stirring occassionally, until a thick consistency is reached. Transfer to a clean glass jar and let cool completely before refrigerating. Preserves will keep for at least one month in the refrigerator.
Please Note: This recipe is not intended for water bath canning. The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking has a recipe that includes lemon juice for water bath canning and long-term storage.
While yesterday’s post primarily focused on Rush Creek Reserve, we did learn quite a bit about Uplands’ first cheese, Pleasant Ridge Reserve as well. As I mentioned, it’s a seasonal cheese rich with flavors of summer grasses. It also sports one of the most beautiful rinds of any cheese I’ve come across (it’s that handsome wedge on the left, in the picture below). And, we were privileged to sample three wheels of different maturity. It’s always fascinating to compare the same cheese as it develops, the flavors concentrating and in this case, those delightful little crystals forming and adding to the texture as the cheese ages. If you ever spot Extra-Aged Pleasant Ridge in your cheese shop, be sure to snap it up.
P.S. The other cheeses on my souvenirs-from-Wisconsin cheese board are Marieke Gouda and LaClare Farm Evalon. I also brought back that delicious little jar of Fig & Black Tea preserves from Madison-based Quince & Apple. It went nicely with the Evalon, but I’m also planning to test it with some Wisconsin blues.