As the summer winds down, so do the farmers’ market baskets brimming with peaches, plums and nectarines. One of the best ways to hang on to a little bit of summer during the cold, cruel winter months (forgetting for a moment that I live in South Florida) is by making homemade preserves. When I think of the best
preserves I’ve ever tasted, I think of Frenchwoman Christine Ferber. Ferber has a small shop in the Alsatian village of Niedermorschwihr. She is the daughter of fourth-generation bakers and pastry-makers and as a child spent hours watching her father work. When it was time for her to do her apprenticeship, she couldn’t
find an Alsatian pastry master who would teach a woman, so she left home to spend three years in Brussels. When she returned, she devoted herself to her passion: creating the finest jams in the world by capturing the essence of natural fruit flavors. Her secrets? Precision and patience. She makes over 200 flavors of
jams and sells them to some of the finest restaurants in the world. Here are some of her intriguing flavor combinations:
Strawberry with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint
Peach with Lavender Honey
Wild Blueberry with Pinot Noir and Licorice
Pear with Jasmine Mandarin Tea
Green Apple & Wild Prune Jelly
Melon and Raspberry with Citrus Zest
Raspberry and Litchi with Rose Water
Rhubarb, Apples and Gewürtzraminer
Spiced Green Walnut
You can find many of Ferber’s recipes in her book Mes Confitures (Michigan State University Press, 2002), or, if you prefer, you can buy her jam online from Borne Confections (www.borneconfections.com). Following is a recipe I adapted from the book.
Adapted from Mes Confitures (Michigan State University Press, 2002) by Christine Ferber
2 ½ pounds (1.13 kg) ripe nectarines
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 whole cloves
1 ounce (28 g) finely chopped fresh ginger
3 ounces (85 g) finely chopped crystallized ginger
1. Blanch the nectarines for 1 minute in a pot of boiling water. Refresh them in a bath of ice water. Peel them and cut each nectarine into ten wedges, removing the pit.
2. In a large shallow pan, gently combine the nectarine wedges, sugar, lemon juice, cloves and fresh ginger. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover the fruit mixture with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, pour the mixture back into a large shallow pan and add the crystallized ginger. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the top and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring gently. Remove from heat and cool.