With more than 180 000 jars of jam sold worldwide and 1 400 different variety of flavors, Christine Ferber can rightfully be called “La fée des confitures” (the jam fairy in French). This is what she is well-known for but when I traveled to her village, Niedermorschwihr in the Alsace-region, I found out she is much more than that.
My dear friend Parisbreakfast has always been talking about Christine Ferber, praising her for her jam and thats how I discovered her. Take my advise and try it once and I promise you’ll quickly notice how different it is from commercial jams, both in its texture and especially in its flavor.
As I live nearby La Grande Epicerie in Paris, one of Christine Ferbers re-sellers in Paris, I often go there for her jams. On the weekends they are more or less sold out, at least my favourite flavors, so hit the store on a weekday if you are tempted by a jar.
The first I tried was blueberry jam (Myrtille des bois d’Alsace). Tasty blueberries picked in the forests of Alsace and carefully boiled into a delightful jam. I must confess that the jar didn’t last long, in 2 days I finished it. That’s how good it was. Another jam of Christine Ferber that has turned to my favourite is her raspberry jam “Confiture fine – framboise d’Alsace”. It’s without seed and has a gorgeous deep red colour and a rich raspberry flavor. A teaspoon of this heavenly creation and you’ll quickly fall in love with Christine Ferbers Universe of jams.
Traveling to Niedermorschwihr, Christine Ferbers village
After months of talking with my friend Parisbreakfast we decided to finally do this trip in early September together with Carolyn. Making our dream coming true, by visiting the jam fairy and the place where the magic is created, in the village of 300 inhabitants, Niedermorschwihr. The name of the village is difficult to pronounce as it is to spell so we ended up calling it the Ferber-village ;-) It is situated only 10 min by car from Colmar in Alsace. We took a train from Paris ( 2 hours and 20 minutes) and rented a car in Colmar. It is also possible to get to the village by bus from Colmar but we figured it would be easier to get around with a car as there are other villages nearby to explore as well! The road from Colmar is scenic, once you leave the city you are surrounded by hills covered by vines. It was a joy to see the grapes hanging in the vines ready to be harvested and the beautiful warm Autumn-colours of the leaves. We stayed at Hotel de l’Ange, a charming hotel, strategically located just across the street of Maison Ferber.
Anne-Catherine Ferber, Christine Ferbers sister in law, warmly welcomed us in the shop, Maison Ferber, on Saturday morning. The shop was bought by Christine Ferbers father in 1959. Here you can find a big selection of her jams (all made with fruits and berries of the season), pastries, viennoiseries, savories but also her recipe books, pottery from local artists and fruits and veggies.
Maison Ferber is a charming little shop and impossible to miss with its original sign hanging outdoors with a pretzel and the traditional Alsatian kougelhopf.
Christine Ferber – the Alsatian girl of a baker
Anne-Catherine Ferber shared the story behind how everything started for Christine. The Alsatian girl of a baker-pastry chef-chocolate maker, who once dreamed of becoming a veterinary and traveling the world but today is known for her excellent work with pastry, bread, jams, chocolate and ice cream. At that time she didn’t have much of a choice. She decided to study and become a pastry chef but in the 1970’s this profession was not for women in France and she had to travel to Brussels to study where she also got her certificate as a pastry chef, confectioner and chocolate maker. The studies followed with a year in Paris where her sister spent at Hotel Lutetia and herself at Maison Peltier (runned by Lucien Peltier, also known as the star of pastries, he trained a whole generation of awarded pastry-chefs back in the time). Back in Niedermorschwihr, with her sister in the shop and herself in the bakery, together with their family they developed their family business.
Did you know that the jams where originally just a decorative element in the shops display in the early days? If you visit the village you’ll see most houses has gardens filled with fruit trees and berries. They often brought their fruit to Christine Ferber who once asked her mother to share her jam recipe. That’s how jams are made, the recipes are inherited through generations. And in the 80’s after an increase demand of clients wanting to buy the jams they were seeing in the display, the jam production started. Since then Ferber has published several books with jam recipes if you want to make your own using her technique. Today her jams are sold worldwide and among the most important country is Japan.
Using all colors of the palette – as a true artist
Today its rare to see a successful pastry chef that is also a chocolate maker, baker, pastry chef etc so I was quite fascinated by Christine Ferbers accomplishment. She told me that she is using all the colors of the palette as a true artist and that she enjoyed the diversity of her job. One day she is cooking jam, the other she is carefully decorating tartes and galettes with fruit and berries and the next day she is in the chocolate laboratory making magic with chocolate. She works in harmony with the season and nature, meaning you will never be able to find her strawberry jam in the winter time. She never uses frozen fruits or berries and its easy to see that she is only using the best. Take a careful look in the display with her pastries. ALL berries and fruits are perfect. And not only perfect to the eye, taste them and you will feel how flavorful they are. She is only using locally grown produce.
A visit to Maison Ferber and the laboratory
When we stepped into the bakery the smell of ginger and cinnamon that was circulating in the air after gingerbread cookies just had been taken out of the oven to cool was pleasant and made me think of Christmas. Anne-Catherine let us try one and what a flavour! She explained they bake these in the Autumn and Winter but the dough is prepared already in March, for the spices to properly infuse.
After the bakery we continued the tour to the laboratory. Built in 2015 it houses the jam production, chocolate and catering. Here are the famous copper pans where the fruits and sugar are boiled and pourred into jars and covered with a polka dotted lid and a ribbon. All these steps are done by hand.
So what is so special with the jam? I think that deserves a blog article on it’s own. Tomorrow I will publish an article about her jam and will add the link here so stay tuned ;-)
Christine Ferbers shop Maison Ferber
With all the fame Christine Ferber has and how well-known her products are I was happy to see that her shop still looked very authentic, like it must have done in the older days. One would have imagined it touristy or commersialized but not at all. And I guess thats what I loved about it, it felt genuinely authentic and her family members who work there, among them her sister, where all kind and taking the orders with a smile.
It was a wonderful experience to discover and explore the Universe of Christine Ferber. To meet her in person and also see and taste the excellence of her work.
If you have plans to travel to Alsace, do make a stop in the small village Niedermorschwihr, where you will find her shop and can buy her jams and also her recipe books if you want to make jams using her method.
Maison Ferber – 18 Rue des Trois Épis
Phone number: 03 89 27 05 69