Impossible Not to Love une tartine de confiture (A slice of Bread with Jam)
I like to notice interesting behaviors and question why I follow them. Take for example a simple thing as making jam. I have wondered why I never make jams, although I grew up in a culture where canning and preserving vegetable and fruit is simply part of the summer ritual. Why? Am I incapable of it? Not really as I used to do it all the time with my mum. Back then, we did not even have the new fancy special jam pots with lids. It was the time when we used thin transparent sheets of plastic paper that we moistened with a small sponge before placing them on top of the pots full of hot freshly made jam. The next step involved putting an elastic around the edge to make sure the seal was secure. I always felt it was a magical moment. How cool was that? We would be able to eat the jams in months to come, but they would keep until then. That part literally fascinated the little girl I was. And, whenever my mum made jam, I became her appointed jam-making assistant. My two jobs consisted in moistening the plastic papers — and I really insisted on that part, “c’est moi qui le fait !” (I do it!) — and removing the foam that formed at the surface of the jam. So in view of this history, why not make jam myself when I have witnessed it so often? Do I need une bassine à confiture en cuivre (a copper jam pan) like my mum had? No, not necessary either. Thinking, thinking! I finally got my answer.
For some odd reason, I always thought that I could only make jams if I used fruit picked from my orchard. It never crossed my mind that I could buy the fruit to make the jam. C’est fou cela ! I know that this is crazy and nuts. I don’t even have an orchard nowadays! Some strange beliefs get stuck in my head sometimes, un vrai mystère (a real mystery) why. One thing that I know, however, is that at home, we would only preserve vegetables that were coming from our own garden, and make jams from the fruit we grew or from the ones we picked. Try to imagine the story of a mother and her kids going for a walk with little buckets, keen to find wild mulberries, strawberries or raspberries. It was us. And to the question my dad would ask: “Et, vous allez où, là, comme cela ?” (where are you going?), we would invariably answer, “On va chercher des mûres ! On revient ! (We are going to pick mulberries! We will be back!) We never bought jams. In fact, my mum kept une réserve (a food stock) in the basement always full of jam pots lined up on shelves, labeled with the variety, month and year: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, red currant, mulberry, apricot and rhubarb were the common jams we had.
Now that I know that I am well capable of making jams, you will not be surprised if I tell you how delighted I was when I heard about this month’s Sugar High Friday theme hosted by Nicky from the beautiful blog Delicious Days. This month’s theme is all about canning and preserving fruit! I finally have an opportunity to test my jam-making skills! Alone this time!
I decided to make two different kinds of jam. The first one was quite special to me as I am particularly attached to Apricot Jam. When I was a kid, it was simply one of my favorite jams. Testing to see whether I would be able to reproduce the taste I missed so much made me all excited and nervous. I added vanilla and lemon juice to enhance the taste of the jam. And it worked! I loved it. “Easy”, I thought, “I will make another one!” Hence, the second one was born from a fancy I had. Why not make a two fruit jam, made of raspberries added to yellow peaches. For this one, I was pretty much just curious to see what would happen to its color. I took and followed advice collected from my mum, and set myself to work. I knew the process was going to involve patience, which I can lack sometimes, since I was going to leave the different fruit marinate in sugar overnight. It might sound cliché , but I found the whole jam-making process extremely therapeutic. Qu’est-ce que ça fait du bien de faire des conserves ! (it feels so good to make preserves!) Why did I wait for so long until I started to make my own?
We Repeat What We Learn
I don’t have a basement that is a good place for jams but for the first time, I have a whole shelf of twelve nicely wrapped homemade jam pots, some of which I already gave to friends as little gifts, because you see, I really want to make more — in answer to P’s worry “Tu veux en faire encore ? Mais qui va les manger ? (You want to make more? But who is going to eat them?) — and need to make sure that someone will eat them! I am just repeating what I have learned to do. Merci maman !
Telle mère, telle fille !
- 3 lbs + 5 oz ripe apricots
- 2 vanilla pods
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 5 cups fine sugar
- Wash the fruit. Remove the stones and cut the apricots coarsely. Place them in a non-reactive pan (or special jam pan) with the vanilla pods cut in halves.
- Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice. Mix and let macerate during the whole night (ideally 24 hours). Stir it once in a while.
- The following day, remove the vanilla pods and fruit (keep them aside). Bring the jam to a boil and cook for 10 mns.
- Put the fruit back with the seeds from the vanilla pods and continue to cook for 30 mns minimum. At this point, you can test to see whether your jam is ready by placing a Tbsp jam on a cold saucer. Run your finger in it. If the mark stays, your jam is ready. If it is not, continue to cook.
- When ready, pour the hot jam in sterilized pots and seal them. Turn them upside down to let them cool down. Once cold, turn them.
- 3 lbs yellow peaches
- 7 oz raspberries
- 5 cups fine sugar
- Juice of lime
- Follow the same steps as the ones for the apricot jam.
PS: Nicky and Oliver asked if we would share a special jam/preserve making book. All I have really is what my mum taught me, so far. No books I can recommend I am afraid.
- 1,5 kg d’abricots
- 2 gousses de vanille
- Jus d’1 citron
- 1 kg de sucre
- Lavez les fruits. Enlevez les noyaux et mettez-les dans une bassine à confiture avec la gousse de vanille fendue, (ou une casserole à fond épais).
- Saupoudrez avec le sucre et versez le jus de citron. Mélangez et laissez macérer toute la nuit. Mélangez de temps à autre.
- Le lendemain, retirez la gousse de vanille et les fruits (mis de côté). Portez à ébullition et cuisez pendant 10 mns.
- Remettez les fruits et poursuivez la cuisson à petit bouillon (pendant 30 mns ou jusqu’à ce que la confiture ait pris).
A ce moment-là, vous pouvez tester la confiture et voir si elle perle. Versez 1 càs de confiture sur une petite assiette froide et faites une marque avec votre doigt au milieu. Si la marque reste, votre confiture est prête. Sinon, poursuivez la cuisson.
- Une fois prête, versez-la dans des pots à confiture stérilisés et fermez-les. Retournez les pots pour les laisser refroidir. Une fois froide, vous pouvez à nouveau retourner les pots.
- 1,3 kg de pêches jaunes
- 200 g de framboises
- 1 kg de sucre
- Jus d’1 citron vert
- Suivez le même principe que pour la confiture d’abricots.
And this jam can be enjoyed for wintery months to come, or right away! It all depends how patient you are.