Every country has culinary heroes who are revered for their ability to inspire generations of home cooks. Nigella, Mary Berry, Delia and Marguerite Patten, come to mind. A heroine in France is Ginette Mathiot who died in 1998. An Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, food writer and home economist, Ginette wrote over 30 bestsellers, including Je sais faire les conserves. Originally published in 1948, it has been revised by the food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier and published by Phaidon.

Getting started

With sound advice that “preserving food requires an initial investment of time and money” the opening chapter includes equipment, different methods of preserving, a kitchen garden calendar and how to store fruit in boxes and a silo.

Salt, Sugar and Vinegar

Reference to the roles of these ingredients had me smiling with agreement. ” Sugar, like salt, has antiseptic properties, but only when used in the right proportion of 65 percent when the preservation process is finished…..use quality vinegar…do not use a silver implement to remove fruit and vegetables preserved in vinegar.”

Recipes

With chapters covering aromatic herbs, condiments, milk, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, charcuterie, curing and smoking, there are recipes for all areas of preservation. I’m interested in fruit and vegetables so I was drawn to the alphabetical arrangement of recipes within those chapters. There are 41 jam recipes, using fruit, vegetables and nuts. The methods for making jams are different to the ones I write about as the fruit is cooked in a sugar syrup for a number of hours.

Although not essential ( due to the correct sugar percentage) the author recommends processing jams in a boiling water canner. As I reviewed the book during Apple season, when I had a large supply of Bramleys and had just received a gift of Calvados, I was drawn to the recipe for Normandy-Style Apple Jam. I halved the recipe, and the cooking time. I cooked the apples and dried fruit in the sugar syrup over a very gentle heat, stirring from time to time. I don’t own a boiling water canner, but decided to water bath the loosely sealed jars at 82C for 20 minutes, then carefully removing them on to a wooden board to seal and leave until cold. The recipe below is reproduced with kind permission of the publishers.

NORMANDY-STYLE APPLE JAM

Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 2 hours 15 minutes
Canning time 5 minutes

Makes 10 x 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) jars

15 cups (61/2 lb/3 kg) sugar
9 lb (4 kg) peeled apples, thinly sliced
¾ cup (31/2 oz/100 g) raisins
scant ½ cup (31/2 oz/100 g) currants
3½oz (100 g) candied orange or orange peel,
finely chopped
scant ¼ cup (1¾fl oz/50 ml) Calvados

This makes a full-flavored and caramelized
jam.

1) Heat the same amount of sugar as the weight
of the fruit with 3 cups (26 fl oz/750 ml) water
gently in a large preserving pan, stirring until
the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil
and boil rapidly until it reaches the small
pearl stage (232°F/111°C), or when tiny round
beads form at the surface of the syrup, then
when held between the fingers it forms a wider
thread of about 11/2–2 inches/4–5 cm in length.

2) Add the apples, raisins, currants, and peel and
cook over low heat for 2 hours; the apples will
turn brown and shiny. Add the Calvados.

3) Pour the jam into sterilized jars (see p. 40) and
seal with sterilized lids.

4) Process in a boiling-water canner (see p. 53
and follow the manufacturer’s instructions) for
5 minutes.

Links

Phaidon site Preserving – Conserving, Salting, Smoking, Pickling Special Offer price for a limited period

Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog Chocolate & Zucchini

November 9th, 2015|Tags: , , |