June 15, 2011
I Made a Batch of Strawberry Jam
June means that strawberry season has arrived in my area of the Northeast and it gives me great pleasure to jump right in and get busy making jam. Several years ago, when my television show was still being taped near my old home in Connecticut, we invited pastry chef and jam maker, Christine Ferber to the studio. Ferber, a fifth-generation pastry maker from the Alsace region of France, has won acclaim and awards for her baked goods, yet holds a particular passion for preserves. Dubbed 'Christine, Queen of Jams' by her peers, she loves the flavorful surprises she achieves through such unusual ingredient combinations as cherry with pinot noir, rhubarb with honey and rosemary, and rosehip and vanilla. That was when I was first introduced to her book on the subject, Mes Confitures and I have enjoyed many of her recipes ever since. I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting Ferber’s shop, Au Relais des Trois Epis, in Niedermorschwihr, a village in Alsace. While there, I sampled some of the most delicate, tender, and subtle confitures I’ve ever tasted, including incredible artisanal jams, such as Sicilian blood orange, Devon blackberry, Coriscan lemon marmalade, and Provençal apricot. When making jams and jellies, I always reach for my well-used copy of Mes Confitures.
1 I have always loved putting up jars of homemade jams, jellies, and preserves, especially when the fruit is my own.
2 Mid-June is the beginning of strawberry season here in the Northeast. I grow a variety known as everbearing, which produces a prolific yield of juicy, sweet berries.
3 I also grow a type of strawberry called fraises du bois - French for 'strawberries from the woods' - They are intensely flavorful and make a great garnish for salads and drinks.
4 A delicate fraises du bois flower
5 Shaun and Wilmer weeded the strawberry patch in preparation for a photo shoot.
6 All of the ripe berries were picked so that I could make jam before leaving on my journeys.
7 This book on making jams and jellies by Christine Ferber, has become a favorite of mine.
8 I rinsed the berries quickly in cold water and gently dried them in a towel. I then hulled them to remove their stems.
9 Christine Ferber writes that 'jam making is essentially preserving fruit with sugar.'
10 She goes on to say that 'for the best preservation effect, the jam should be sixty-five percent sugar.'
11 The strawberries macerate with the sugar and the juice of 1 lemon in the refrigerator overnight before continuing with the cooking part of the recipe.
12 Christine's method of jam making involves a step of separating out the already cooked fruit before boiling down the syrup, which helps to preserve the fruit's texture.