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Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber [Hardcover]

Christine Ferber
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Sep 2002
Ferber is a fourth-generation French patissiere whose speciality is her unusual, delicious jams and jellies, which have gained an international following among chefs and other gourmands. This book, a best-seller in France, presents dozens of recipes, organised by season, for preserves from Black Cherry with Pinot Noir to Greengage and Mirabelle Plum with Mint; a number of them include chocolate, not a standard addition. Few of the recipes include headnotes, although translator's notes identify the more exotic ingredients; instructions are on the brief side. However, any jam maker will find Ferber's book fascinating. Recommended for all canning and preserving collections.

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Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber + The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook + Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press (30 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870136291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870136290
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 20.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JAM BIBLE 15 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the "JAM BIBLE" among the food world.
I discovered it through best international food blog and I did most recipes on the book.
This method is so peculiar that is called "the Ferber method" and I assure you that is very easy and no-fuss at all.
you can even make just one single jar, but the result will be perfect!
Highly recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen of Jam! 6 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing - i cant get enough of christine ferbers jams, they are sublime , great recipes in fact the book has toms of recipes, brilliant - we need a christine ferber jam shop in the UK !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 12 Jun 2013
By Wilma
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
full of 'different' ideas and recipes for smaller quantities - useful if you wanted to make something luxurious for a experiment, treat or gift
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
112 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively Simple 29 July 2004
By Jadepearl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The recipes are very simple. Usually requiring a few steps for small batch jams and preserves. However, it is not for the inexperienced unless they have good back-up books like _Blue Ribbon Preserves_ which explains clearly how to sterilize and prepare jars and focus on a more scientific approach to preserves.

Ferber provides flavor inspirations and deceptively simple approach. However, there is no explanation in the book for pectin substitution. She relies on either the natural pectin found in the fruit or uses green apple jelly as a pectin base which means you get to make alot of green apple jelly adding a whole set of steps to the jam/jelly process. The book does not explain which fruits have enough natural pectin to set and what level of set.

If you know what it means to skim the juices already then the simple instructions are enough to work with but if you have no "feel" or previous knowledge of preserves making than the instructions seem skimpy. This is NOT a teaching volume it is an inspirational volume for the experienced preserves person.

The important thing though is that the flavors are fabulous. Just be sure to read the instructions first and research carefully your subsititutions and also your preserve process or else the simple instructions become too simple.

Recommended for the collection.
96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Class in Fruit Confits. Artisinal Jams!! 31 Jan 2005
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
`Mes Confitures', subtitled `The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber' is written by Ms. Ferber herself, in French, translated by Virginia Phillips, and introduced with a foreword by Alain Ducasse. In case these circumstances are not enough to clue you in to what is afoot here, let me tell you that this book is not about your grandmother's strawberry jam. It is also not about your mother's Smuckers and certainly not about your Polaner jelly. This book is about artisinal products as carefully done as French wines and cheeses. In fact, the similarity between wines and these preserves are a lot closer than almost any other comparison, as the raw material of both is very similar.

Before going much further, I must give a word or warning that I do not consider this book a complete manual on how to make and preserve jams and jellies. In fact, it is telling that the title and subtitle DO NOT include the word `preserves'. While I am not an expert on preserves and canning, I have enough knowledge, acquired from a typically excellent episode of Alton Brown's `Good Eats' to know that successfully packing a confit in a sterile container is not the same as prepping a PRESERVE which can safely sit on an unrefrigerated shelf for up to a year. So, if you are serious about making confits and preserves, get a very good introductory book on canning, as Ms. Ferber's book is much more of a master class on the subject, which assumes you know a lot about the mechanics of canning and preserving. The book is primarily a collection of primo recipes for producing jams and jellies worthy of smearing on your artisinal breads or filling your handmade Linzer cookies.

The book's recipes are divided by season, and there is an extreme attitude about selecting the very freshest fruits at the very best time of the season and the day. I am rarely swayed about goings on about using fresh ingredients. I will only state that there is probably a much bigger connection between the quality of your starting ingredients and your final product in the making of fruit comfits than there is in the making of a soup or braise or any other cooking method using most meats from hoofed or winged beasts and using most vegetables, even the seasonally persnickety tomato. The one condition which tempers this fact is that unlike most pedestrian recipes for fruit confits, Ms. Ferber's recipes often contain several spices and other seasonings which may buffer the impact of a less than perfect crop of apples or peaches.

While Ms. Ferber lives and works in the fabled Alsace district of France, her seasons are not too different from temperate North America, so there should be few incongruities on the part of geography. There may be several difficulties in the fact that Ms. Ferber uses several cultivars that may simply not be available in a timely manner to us Nordamerikaners. But, we carry on with the best substitutions we can do.

Spring recipes open with a big surprise with two recipes for comfitted carrots. Otherwise, the stars of the show in spring are cherries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, and rhubarb. Here we first encounter green apple jelly, which is the `veal stock' of the fruit confit world. Just as veal is one of the richest sources of thickening gelatin, green apples are one of the best sources of pectin for gelling the confit, while the apple taste is tame enough to stand in the background, behind stronger tasting fruits. One puzzle Ms. Ferber does not elucidate is how one gets a supply of green apple jelly, a product whose season comes in the fall, when you wish to use this ingredient in the spring.

The stars of the summer recipes are Bergeron apricot, generic apricot, wild and generic (farm grown) blueberries, nectarines, currants, celery, zucchini, raspberry, melon, and apples. Some of the more important costars seem to shine in the summer recipes. These are vanilla, black pepper, chili peppers, anise, pinot noir, almonds, chocolate, essences of edible flowers and flower petals, and eau-de-vie. Citrus juices and zests, especially those from lemon contribute to a large number of recipes in all seasons.

The stars of the autumn recipes are dried fruits, nuts, pears, quinces, rose hips, figs, grapes, vineyard peach, honey, ginger, cinnamon, apple, tomato, and Gewurztraminer (wine). Winter is devoted to tropical fruits such as citrus (marmalade, marmalade, marmalade), pineapple, banana, mango, and passion fruit. It is the one season where there are recipes for a particular event (Christmas). It is also no surprise to find tea as an ingredient here, as bitter orange is, itself, an ingredient in Earl Gray tea.

The recipes are very well detailed. You should be able to do everything in every recipe if you have the tools listed at the beginning of the book. As canning is an old American rural custom, none of the equipment should be much farther than a good hardware store or good mail order or Internet source. The book gives an excellent list of American sources, although there is no guarantee you will be able to get some of the cultivars found in the Alsace.

My mind's virtual taste buds tell me that this is one excellent collection of recipes for fruit confits, and, a fair amount of improvisation is certainly allowed. Which is even more of a reason to exercise your canning skills on a few simpler recipes before tackling the 20 plus ingredient Christmas jam.

Every food subject has its quality leader or artisinal high end. This is the high end for jams and jellies!
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, exotic jams 3 Nov 2006
By Becky Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
This book is one of the most exciting cookbooks that I have used recently. Besides containing standard flavors such as strawberries and peach, it also has the more interesting combinations of Pear with a Balsalmic Vinegar and Spices, Carrot with Cardamom, Strawberry and Balck Pepper, and so forth. Every combination I have tried has been incredibly good, especially the Raspberry with Star Anise. Most of the recipes seem to make about 5-6 half-pint jars, but as it's not stated anywhere in the book, make sure to sterilize a few extra. These jams always come out fresh-tasting and with a slightly soft set, the benefit of using natural pectin in fruit and not adding one. However, since some of the low pectin fruits still require pectin, there is a recipe for green apple pectin stock to provide the needed pectin, great if you have access to underripe apples.

This is a great book, especially for those wanting to take preserve making one step further and try interesting combinations. In fact, trying those interesting combinations certainly got my creative juices flowing and inspired me to make some fun mixes of my own.

However, this is not a book that goes over the particulars involved in preserving foods and canning, and the necessary sanitation and precautions it entails, so any first-time canners need to pick up another book or do some research online for these techniques.

All in all, I would definetly buy this book again if it was ever lost or stolen by the many admiring friends who have borrowed it so far.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly unusual jams & jellies 16 July 2003
By Sarah Lally Brown - Published on Amazon.com
I love jams made with unusual ingredients and combinations, but I don't love making five batches to fine tune the taste. Christine Ferber has already done it for me in this book, and her inventions are *fantastic.* She has a true european appreciation for the concept of savory. Not every jam needs to be cloyingly sweet. Many of her recipes call for overnight fruit/sugar macerations to slowly combine the ingredients.
She does have a habit of seeming to forget that most of us don't live next to farmers and friends who can stroll about and collect fresh ingredients for us. Her recipes often call for specific varieties of fruit. Luckily the translator has written brief footnotes for most specific listings like that, and you can figure out a good substitution. If nothing else, head to a farmers market and tell them the flavor/consistency of fruit you want and they can help you find a native variety that matches.
Hopefully none of my family members will read this book, because if they do they're going to know what jellies they're getting for christmas this year.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but requires tinkering 18 Jan 2012
By Harold A. Roth - Published on Amazon.com
It is true, as a number of people have mentioned, that this is not a how-to-can book, but I didn't expect it to be. Besides, these jams are not processed. They are just poured in the jars, lidded, and tipped over to "seal." That's fine, but people should be aware that since these are not processed jams, there can be no snarky remarks about how this is for advanced canners. There is no canning here, period, not as Americans understand it.

The recipes are interesting, but they call for a huge amount of sugar, far more than is typical nowadays in jam recipes. All that sugar ensures that after you open the jam, it does not have to be refrigerated; there is too much sugar to allow for much mold to grow. For me, though, this amount of sugar overpowers the fruit flavor. Even the apple pectin recipe is full of sugar. I wasted a lot of sugar making a bunch of that when I could have made it it without any sugar at all and it would work just as well. I've used a number of the recipes now and have cut down the sugar enormously (and processed the jars for 5 minutes in a BWB). They taste a lot better to me. I would rather refrigerate a jam after opening and have a more fruity flavor than add so much sugar that the fruit is barely identifiable.

As someone mentioned in comments, some of these recipes won't set (even if you add all the sugar called for). I believe that is because Europeans tend to like more runny jams than Americans do. I have sure seen that with Russian jams. At any rate, I too became frustrated with testing and testing and not getting any set.

The one thing I really like about this book is the technique of adding the sugar to the fruit and letting it cold macerate overnight. The next day the fruit is cooked a bit and then the juice is drained and boiled down. The fruit is added back in later. This way, the fruit doesn't turn to mush. It makes for a very pretty jam. I have used this same technique in American recipes, such as those in Canning for a New Generation, and it works well.

I'd give it four stars except for the excessive sugar, which requires redoing each recipe, in my opinion. Also, no yield is given for any of the recipes, which is a pain.
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