Fancy jellies and jams are everywhere, but like a lot of other edibles the homemade version tastes sweeter. Maybe it is all the work you put into it, the beauty every step of the way of the fruit, the jars and labels, or the fun had sourcing ingredients. Starting in late June (sometimes later due to the weather) farms in Southern Maine will begin allowing people in to pick strawberries. August rolls around with blueberries and then apple-picking begins. There I am with my friends, baskets in hand picking and eating our way through the field or orchard. One of those sunny days I’d love to have a picnic smack dab in the middle of it all.
I’ve taken a few jam making classes and had success making jellies, jams, and this past fall applesauce. With that in mind I was arrogant enough to think I could tweak Christine Ferber’s Blood Orange jam by adding a little Campari to keep the jam a beautiful red. Well, my batch of “jam” looks pretty enough and it tastes good but it is definitely not jam it isn’t even jelly. Okay, let’s get to basics.
For non-jammers, Christine Ferber is “the Jam Fairy of Alsace” (la fee des confitures) by the French. From her copper pots in a little village in Alsace, an area in France next to the Swiss and German borders (I studied there for a semester in university), she produces world-renowned jams. The daughter of fourth-generations bakers, she was denied professional training by the area’s pastry makers and went to Belgium to perfect her craft. Three years later she returned to Alsace inspired by her travels and childhood began making jams. She encourages using the freshest ingredients and one’s imagination.
Christine does not use commercial pectin, an essential to the gelling process for fruits that do not have it naturally, but apple jelly made from green apples. This is not uncommon among experienced jammers, but it was my first time. This is where I think I made my mistake, because believe me my “jam” did not gel. I followed the instructions to a “T” and those are what I am sharing with you. Additionally, determined to get this jam making without pectin thing right and in an effort to have a shared jam making experience with a whole lot of people hopefully from all over the world I started a Facebook page for anyone who wants to work his/her way through Christine Ferber’s book Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber (available on Amazon and likely upon request from a local cookbook shop i.e Rabelais in Maine or Omnivore Books in San Francisco).
No way am I wasting that yummy, liquid Blood Orange, it will be used as a glaze and in chili. The orange rinds are delicious.
Blood Orange from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber
About 2 3/4 pounds (1.2 kg) blood oranges, or 2 cups 1 ounce (500g/50cl) juice
1 3/4 pounds (750g) Granny Smith apples
4 2/3 cup (1 kg) sugar plus 1 cup (200 g)
3 cups 2 ounces (750 g/75 cl) water plus 7 ounces (200 g/20 cl)
Juice of 1 small lemon
Rinse the apples in cold water. Remove the stems and cut them into quarters without peeling them. Put them in a preserving pan and cover with 3 cups 2 ounces (75 g/75 cl) water.
Bring the apple mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. The apples will be soft.
Collect the juice by pouring the preparation into a chinois sieve, pressing lightly on the fruit with the back of the skimmer. Filter the juice a second time by pouring it through cheesecloth previously wet and wrung out, letting the juice run freely. It is best to leave the juice overnight refrigerated.
***NOT IN CHRISTINE FERBER’S RECIPE, BUT A SAFETY STEP I RECOMMEND.
Process the jars, screw bands, and lids in a water bath. Sterilize jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Put lids in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and keep warm. Put bands aside while jars and lids boil.
(back to Christine’s recipe)
Measure 2 cups 1 ounce (500 g/50 cl) juice, leaving in the bowl the sediment that formed overnight, to have clearer jelly.
Squeeze the 2 3/4 pounds (1.2 kg) blood oranges. Measure 2 cups 1 ounces (500 g/50 cl) juice and put the seeds into a cheesecloth bag.
Rinse and brush the 2 oranges in cold water and slice them into very thin rounds. In a preserving pan, poach the rounds with 1 cup (200 g) sugar and 7 ounces (200 g/20 cl) water. Continue cooking at a boil until the slices are translucent.
Add the apple juice, 4 2/3 cups (1 kg) sugar, lemon juice, and seeds in the cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim. Continue cooking on high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Skim again if need be. Remove the cheesecloth with the seeds. Return to a boil. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.
Yield: 6-7 8-ounce jars
**I added 1 ounce of Campari before returning to a boil in an effort to keep the reddish color of the blood oranges. When Christine Ferber uses wine, beer, or liquor in a recipe this is where she adds it. I welcome feedback on this recipe. I want to get this right and your tips can only help!!