If you’ve ever had jam made by Christine Ferber, then you know just how perfectly wonderful a simple jam can be. I was doubtful at first, having been a child that grew up on Smucker’s, but I figured since Pierre Hermé, the macaron king, had it on display in his store, it was worth a try. I ended up bringing two jars of Christine Ferber jam home from Paris… one for a dear friend and one for keeps I would have brought back more if I could, but I was moving back home from living almost a year in Paris and my suitcases just couldn’t hold anything more… what with my recipe binders from school, my chef’s uniforms, and oh yea, my entire knife set that really weighed everything down. On top of those were books, kitchen tools and gadgets I just couldn’t leave Paris without, and more gifts to bring back for friends and family.
Our jar of apricot jam disappeared much too soon and oh, how I miss those morning of waking up to toasted bread and apricot jam with a nice cup of tea. I think it was that whole vanilla bean in the jam that made it so special. It was as if I were back in Paris in my little apartment, looking outside the window with a view of the Eiffel tower.
Now that reality has struck and my Christine Ferber jam is long gone, I’m left with no choice but to make my own jams… store-bought jams just won’t do anymore =P
The best part about making your own jam is that you can really feed your inner chef and be creative with the flavors. Apricot and vanilla, strawberry and white pepper, rhubarb and rosemary… it’s really up to you! And if you’re like me and new to making jams and preserves, start out with fruit conserves. All you need is the fruit, some sugar, lemon juice and anything extra you want to add to make it your own. For me, it was a tossup between strawberries with cinnamon or figs with balsamic. Both have great personality, but when it comes down to toast for breakfast, strawberry is the way to go. The cinnamon gives the strawberries a nice warming touch and is the perfect way to welcome the holiday season. (I know, it’s not yet October, but my mind is already thinking about Halloween, and soon after that, Thanksgiving and Christmas!)
Fruit conserves are slightly less set than most jams since there’s no added pectin and especially since I don’t like to add too much sugar. If your strawberries are ripe, you shouldn’t need to add any more sugar than I did, but as always, taste it before you can it
|PREP TIME||5 Min|
|COOK TIME||25 Min|
|READY IN||2 Hr|
|SERVINGS||about 1 cup|
|1||pound strawberries, hulled and halved*|
|1||tablespoon fresh lemon juice|
|Heavy-bottomed French or Dutch oven (See the Guide)|
|Heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon|
|Sterilized canning jar|
- In a heavy-bottomed French or Dutch oven, combine strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the cinnamon stick and lower the heat to a simmer. Use a spoon to skim off any foam on top.
- Cook, uncovered, until almost thick like molasses, about 20-25 minutes. Immediately ladle into a hot, sterilized jar, leaving 1/4-inch gap on top. Wipe the rim clean and seal. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then chill in the fridge. The strawberry conserve will be slightly softer set than most jams and will keep in the fridge for 2 months. Once opened, eat within 7 days. Spread onto toasted baguette slices or crackers or fold into whipped cream for a luscious strawberry mousse.
- If strawberries aren’t in season and you just can’t wait, you can actually use frozen strawberries. I know, Christine Ferber might consider it blasphemy, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you have on hand. Combine the frozen strawberries with the lemon juice and sugar, along with 2 tablespoons water and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to thaw the strawberries. Continue as directed, but keep in mind you might need to cook the strawberries just a bit longer to cook off the extra water.