Thursday, May 14, 2009


This is an oldie but goodie posted way back in 2004 on another obsolete blog. Thought I might give it another spin as berry season is not too far off and jam making is a perennial favourite.


As a city girl I had always bought jam, and since our family had no clue about conserving food (except kimchee) I always regarded jam making as rather mysterious and time consuming. Well, I learned from B's parents that it isn't. Here is a little play by play description of the jam making process at La Pilardière in the ever lovely Loire Valley. Images of actual berry picking in cowfields and private property, thorn bloodied hands, and ensuing downpour not included.

An afternoon's worth of berries are dumped into a huge copper pot (reserved exclusively for jam production), warmed up a little to release juices, then taken off the heat.

Cooled down berries then dumped into a "presse purée", or better known as a food mill in North America, to get rid of the seeds. Grind, grind, grind.

All the juices and desirable pulpy parts of the berries get caught down below into a bowl.

Everybody gets put back into the large copper pot for a second go around on the heat, this time with castor sugar. Since mûres are naturally sweet the ratio is 45% of the total volume of fruit. You adjust accordingly to the type of fruit being prepared, for example more for bitter orange marmalade, less for cherry jams.

Leave this thick concoction to boil (yes, boil. I know some purists out there who say it should just simmer) for 5-10 minutes. By now the kitchen is smelling like all the days of summer have been condensed and compressed into a single pot. I'm thinking jam and petit suisse, jam and scones, jam as a layer in a gâteau, mmmm, jam....

After the plate (in the fridge and jam "grabs" the surface) and the glass test (from the freezer, jam will form a ball immediately) to determine if the jam has set, it is ready to can.

Jars are immediately inverted to create a vacuum space as the jam cools down slightly. They are then set right side up, and voilà, sealed jam. There is no intensive sterilization process in the Duprat household. Apparently the current technique has held up well as hundreds of preserves have been prepared as such, and no one has died of food poisoning, yet...

Nothing left to do but lick the copper pot...


  1. Ohhhh the upside down jar technique is pure genius!

  2. Never having owned a copper pot, I'm curious as to why one would reserve it for a specific use. Would the metal really be tainted if it were also used as a Cataplana? I've always assumed that all metal was as impervious as the steel pots I use, but as usual, the French must know something I don't... watch them get all smug about it.