Christine Ferber is known worldwide as The Jam Fairy. But what makes her jam so special? I traveled to her village, Niedermorschwihr in Alsace, to find out.
In the village Niedermorschwihr is also where you will find Maison Ferber, where you can find Christine Ferbers jam, bread, pastries among many other sweet delicacies but also savories.
During our visit, which you can read about here, we also go to meet Christine Ferber herself. Despite her busy schedule she was very kind taking some time with us and sharing her passion.
What makes Christine Ferbers jam special
She is worldwide known for her jam, people call her “La fée des confitures” (the Jam Fairy) in France but what makes her jam stand out among the others? After my visit and encounter with her I would say there are three things: Ferbers jam is cooked twice, and some fruits 3 times(!), 80% of the fruits and berries that Ferber buys are locally and organically grown and the exotic fruits are from their original countries and since the fruits and berries she is using are already full of flavor she doesn’t use too much sugar. Compared to for example commercial brands and factory produced jam who only cook the jam once, using berries and fruits of low/average quality as they are massproducing and adding too much sugar. Ferbers jam is like the homemade jam, she tastes the fruits and berries and make sure to only use the ones that are abundant in flavors.
The process behind Christine Ferbers jam
Lets have a look into how the process of Ferbers jam making. The berries comes with their stems and its not until AFTER they have been carefully washed that the stems are removed. This is to preserve the taste, color but also the structure of the berry. And more water would get into the berry if you remove the stem which would affect its taste. And the cherries are all pitted by hand. This way you would only end up with one hole and not two which would also affect the taste. In Ferbers laboratory the jam makers simply squeeze out the pit gently with their fingers. This way more flavor is preserved. The fruits and berries and sugar are heated on medium heat until boil and removed, poured into a bowl to rest over the night. This is the part of the magic and what you will miss out on with commercial jam. During this time the sugar gets deep into the fruits and berries. The next day the mixture is poured back again in a copper and brought to boil on medium heat. Then the jam is poured into glass jars.
The fruits and berries are handled with love
I was impress by the way Christine Ferber was talking about the fruits and berries she is using in her jams. With all the experience she has she is full of so much knowledge and I was fascinated listening to her and taking notes. As an example, did you know that fruits and berries in the Autumn has more taste and flavour than the ones that gets ripe and harvested in the summer? With less heat during the days and more cool evenings the fruits and berries preserve their taste better in Autumn. Ferber respects the shape and construction of her produce and make sure not to cut them too much in order to preserve as much flavor as possible.
The story behind Ferbers jam jar
Ferbers jams are easily recognizable through ther raspberry-pink hat with dots and white ribbon. In the early days she was using cloth from unused fabric from home, cutting them in circles all by hand. Later she met with a fabric producer and ordered her first fabric with her signature motive and color. Today they are cut and send to her yearly. They are attached to the lid in her laboratory by hand. The procedure is finished by tying a white ribbon.
Quality over quantity
With all the fame and success Ferber has reached with her jams she could easily cut many steps that are done by hand and replace by machines and produce more. But that would also mean the quality wouldn’t be the same. When there are no more strawberries in the late Autumn she would never use frozen ones in the Winter. She is a woman who respects and work together with nature and seasons, always in balance and with respect and the quantity she is producing today is the amount they are able to do, by hand. It is slow food at its best. And this way you would value the jam you get even more.
I bought several of her recipe books in her shops and excited to make my own jam following her technique :-)