You know it's spring with the arrival of the first strawberries at the market. Gariguette strawberries are a French favorite. They are bright red and so fragrant that they perfume the market with the most heavenly scent. I've dubbed them "angel kisses" for that very reason. We were so inspired at the market, we brought home baskets of them for our first jam making day of the season.
We enjoyed "a cook's workshop" with our friends from Australia. D is a cook and food writer and her husband, S, is a food photographer. We met them just a few weeks ago when they signed up for a "a cook's workshop" on Burgundian classics. They are on extended holiday and have been traveling throughout France, writing and photographing their experiences. We had so much fun the first workshop, they decided to join us again for a confiture workshop this last week. We are also proud to say that they enjoyed their experience so much they featured The Cook's Atelier in the food and wine section of The Caneberra Times newspaper in Australia. Thank you D & S!
When looking for berries at your local market, be sure to buy them just before you want to use them. Store them in a cool place, and give them a quick rinse just before using them. I use a vintage copper preserving pan that I picked up at a local brocante. A copper jam pan guarantees excellent heat distribution for making small batch confiture. You can also use a large, nonreactive pot, such as a stockpot, but be careful as the fruit will have a tendency to stick on the bottom, so watch it carefully.
Also, don't forget to go here and help nominate The Cook's Atelier for best culinary travel blog!
gariguette strawberry confiture
from Mes Confitures, by Christine Ferber
makes about 8 cups
2 1/2 pounds [1.1 kg] Gariguette strawberries, or 2 1/4 pounds [1 kg] net
4 cups [850 g] granulated sugar
juice of 1 small lemon
Quickly rinse the strawberries in cold water. Dry them in a towel and hull them. Let the strawberries macerate with the lemon juice and sugar in a ceramic bowl refrigerated overnight, covered with a sheet of parchment paper.
Next day, bring this preparation to a simmer in a preserving pan. Pour it into a ceramic bowl. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
On the third day, pour this preparation into a sieve. Bring the collected syrup to a boil in a preserving pan, skim, and continue cooking on high heat. The syrup will be sufficiently concentrated at 221 degrees F [105 degrees C] on a candy thermometer. Add the partly cooked strawberries. Return to a boil on high heat. Skim and return to a boil or 5 minutes, stirring gently. Check the set. The strawberries will be translucent, like preserves. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.
Gariguette strawberries are from Provence. They are the earliest to appear, in April. They are bright red and are considered the most flavorful and fragrant of all French strawberries - "incomparable." Where Gariguettes are not available, one may substitute any deeply fragrant and richly colored strawberry.
For details on processing, as well as my recipe for apricot jam, please visit here.