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Ferber Strawberry Jam ?s

April 2, 2011

I've decided to tackle a couple of her strawberry jam recipes this weekend. What a fiasco!

Friday, I went to a local supermarket to buy some strawberries and raspberries that were on sale. The strawberries were $2.50 a lb. When I got there they had been picked over and all that was left were, spoiled, unripe, or moldy. Blech.

Went to the other supermarket in town which is upscale and has a very nice produce section. The berries here were very nice, organic, but cost $4.50 a lb. What?!?

Being that I had this planned, albeit not very well, I bit the bullet and bought the berries I needed. I would not be denied of trying these recipes this weekend!

So my daughter and I cleaned, hulled, sliced and macerated the berries overnight. Today, I started simmering them but then I lost the plot. I couldn't find how long these were supposed to be simmered. I read somewhere that it was until the sugar was dissolved. Another place said until it looked like hard candy. Yet another said simmer until bubbling and then turn up to high until it boils. I also seen a post that said they skipped this step.

I'm at a loss here. What I did was simmer on medium low until it just started to bubble...195 degrees according to my candy thermometer. Once it hit 195, I poured them back into their dish to macerate today.


1. Did I simmer them enough or too long. The batch was on the stove perhaps 20 minutes...a gradual heat up until they started to bubble. The appearance did change. The strawberries took on a very deep red appearance. I figured this was what was discribed as hard candy. Can anyone be more specific on this part of the process?

2. Also, they are cooling on the countertop now. Should I leave them there until they are sufficiently cool to put back in the fridge or should they go directly into the fridge?



Comments (15)

  • readinglady

    Are you referring to the Gariguette strawberry recipe?

    OK, ignore the "hard candy" comment. It's 1) maceration 2) gentle simmer until sugar is dissolved. That shouldn't take long as maceration has already partially dissolved sugar. Rest. 3) Strain out berries. Bring syrup to boil and cook to 220-221 degrees. Return berries to syrup. Bring temperature back up to 220-221.

    At this point preserve can be taken off the heat and allowed to "rest" for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This helps equalize weight of fruit and syrup so berries are less likely to float.

    Pour into prepared jars and BWB 10 minutes per the usual instructions.

    I have no idea how well this will set. Strawberries are unreliable in that regard. Also, your berries are out-of-season, which is a factor in the final product.

    Good luck. If you have additional questions, just ask.


  • eric_in_sd_z4

    Should I add a lttle bit of pectin to makesure I get a good set?

  • readinglady

    This kind of preserve isn't meant for a firm set. It could happen with something that's naturally high-pectin, but even hitting the jell point doesn't mean the set with strawberries will be firm.

    It's possible a Ferber preserve will set up more firmly as you're using out-of-season berries and they tend to be shipped a little green. (A very un-Ferber tactic as she's all about seasonal. I keep thinking why not wait until June and make a real preserve?)

    You could use pectin if you like, but I wouldn't. I tend to accept whatever is naturally optimal. However, it would be better than overcooking in an attempt to get the preserve firm.

    Actually, if a firm set is what you want, I'd just buy a box of pectin and use the recipe on the insert.


  • eric_in_sd_z4

    Thanks for the advice Carol. I realize that the berries are out of season but my reason for doing this now is to see how we like the recipes before they are in season and we go to the U-Pick fields.

    We like the regular strawberry jam but wanted to try a little something out of the ordinary this year.

    I will probably only add half the pectin and see how it sets up. We like it a bit firm which is probably not the intent of her preserves.

    Thanks again,

  • mellyofthesouth

    Just a note, whether the berries were out of season depends on where they are from. We are at the tail end of strawberry season here in Florida, whereas yours is later. Although, since they were shipped they might have been picked early. But don't you use some less ripe fruit to help with the set since the less ripe fruit has more pectin? Just my random train of thought..

  • 2ajsmama

    Ripe fruit has less pectin and strawberries don't have much to begin with. I don't have Ferber's recipe, but found that the BBB "Heirloom Strawberry Preserves" was plenty set enough after letting the berries sit in the syrup all night after the initial cooking. In fact, I reheated them for too long the next day, made "taffy" but still thinned it our with hot water after opening the 2nd jar and it's fine. They were FL strawberries and I'm in CT.

  • kayskats

    I'm in Maryland and I'm getting itchy for strawberries. I imagine someone in South Dakota is very, very itchy.

    BUT, I will not make strawberries with anything other than locally grown berries. I even try to avoid those giant things with hollow centers.

    Heck, I rarely even EAT out of season berries. It's all about the taste.

  • eric_in_sd_z4

    Unfortunately I had to scratch my itch.

    The jam turned out just ok....the mint/pepper strawberry jam turn out real nice. The balsamic vinegar/pepper strawberry jam was a bit of a soft set.

    The balsamic vinegar one has a weird after taste that I don't care for. The mint/pepper one is pretty good.

  • 2ajsmama

    Well NOW you have to share that recipe!

  • eric_in_sd_z4

    Strawberry with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint
    (Source: Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber)

    2 1/2 pounds strawberries (2 1/4 pounds net)
    3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
    juice of 1 small lemon
    5 fresh mint leaves, chopped
    5 black peppercorns, freshly ground

    Rinse the strawberries under cold water. Dry them and hull (hull the strawberries after you wash them or they will absorb water). In a ceramic bowl, mix the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar, and cover with a piece of parchment (or just use a plastic bowl with a lid). Let this macerate overnight in the fridge.

    The next day, bring the mixture to a simmer in a preserving pan. Pour it back into the ceramic bowl, cover again with the parchment, and let it refrigerate overnight once more. (I won't tell Ms. Ferber if you skip this step and move right onto cooking the jam.

    On the third day, pour the mixture through a sieve and reserve the macerated strawberries. Bring the syrup to a boil over high heat, skimming as necessary. When the syrup has reached 221 degrees on a candy thermometer, add the strawberries, mint, and black pepper. Return to the boil and cook for five minutes, then check the set. Continue to boil until the set point is reached.

    Pour the jam into clean, warm jars, wipe down the rims, and add lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes Yield: 4 half-pints

    Strawberry with Raspberry Juice and Balsamic Vinegar
    (Source: Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber)

    1 3/4 pounds strawberries (1 1/2 pounds net)
    4 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    juice of 1 small lemon
    1 1/4 pound raspberries
    1 2/3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    5 peppercorns, freshly ground

    Select small strawberries. Rinse them in cold water, dry them in a towel, stem them, and halve them (or quarter if larger). In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and let them macerate, refrigerated, overnight (or use a plastic bowl with a lid).

    Next day, place the raspberries into a saucepan with 3 1/2 ounces water, bring to a boil, and boil for a few minutes until the berries break down. Strain this mixture through a chinoise or sieve, pressing the fruit lightly with the back of a skimmer. Add the collected raspberry juice to a preserving pan. Pour the macerated strawberries into the sieve. Bring the strawberry syrup to a boil in the preserving pan with the raspberry juice. Skim and continue cooking over high heat. The syrup will be sufficiently concentrated at 221�F on a candy thermometer.

    Add the macerated strawberries, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar, and bring to a boil once more. Skim, return to a boil, cooking for about five minutes while stirring gently. Check the set. The strawberries should be translucent.

    Put the jam into clean, warm jars immediately, wipe down the rims, add lids and rings and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Yield: 5 half-pint jars

  • lpinkmountain

    I've made both recipes. I like the taste better of no pectin strawberry jams. In my mind, all that sugar that goes with commercial pectin (even low sugar pectin) masks the delicate taste of the strawberries. Strawberries and blueberries are the only fruits I feel that way about, I don't have that problem with plum, cherry or raspberry preserves, which are the other kinds I make. So, with strawberries, I learn to live with runnier jam. Another good kind of strawberry jam, IMHO, is the freezer kind. However, no matter how many times I make the "Ferber method" or "old fashioned" strawberry preserves, they always turn out different. They are my holy grail of preserving, lol!
    Last year I cooked them a tad too long and got overly stiff jam that I had to mix with water after opening. Better a tad too thin than too thick, I think. Too thin is still good on lots of things, it's just messy to eat on toast. But still yum. One of our forum member's daughters solves that problem by dipping her toast in the jam.
    Also, strawberries, like blueberries, I think benefit from some other flavor elements to bring out their taste a little more. I once made strawberry lavendar jam, that was kind of good. I like both the balsamic and the mint. I use a raspberry balsamic for the jam, it works well. My favorite add-ins for blueberries are either lime or frangelico.

  • kristineca

    I just finished a batch of the Ferber strawberry last night (just strawberry and lemon juice) and I am so unimpressed. I really should have looked at the sugar to fruit ratio before making it because it's WAY too sweet for my taste. I get so taken in by the jam goddesses that I forget that I don't want to eat that kind of jam every day. I do the same thing with June Taylor's recipes. She's from Berkeley! Her recipes must be magic! So I should make it! The only place for that kind of sugar, for my palette, is the marmalades. The bitter and sour offset the high sugars well. Again, this is just my pallet. Something I should pay more attention to when preserving.

  • lpinkmountain

    You might want to look into the strawberry apple jam trick, that's one way to make a less sweet strawberry jam that sets up better.

  • 2ajsmama

    What's "the strawberry apple jam trick"? I've made BBB's Heirloom Strawberry Preserves twice now, once reheating on the range, once in the MW and both times came out too stiff. Next time I get inexpensive strawberries I'll try again, reheating on the range, but if I end up with taffy one more time I'm going to just BWB it right away and not let it sit overnight.

  • ruthieg__tx

    I made the basalmic vinegar recipe the last couple of days and it has a beautiful taste. Wal=Mart has berries for 99cents so I have been buying them. I have 9 quarts to work up today...more jelly and probably freeze some. I also have a pineapple.

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