12 August 2014

Sittin' and pittin'

That's what I was doing yesterday morning — just sittin' and pittin'. Je dénoyautais des mirabelles pour faire de la confiture. I ended up with just over a kilogram of pitted plums.

I started the process of turning those mirabelle plums into what I would call "preserves" but which is France is just called confiture. "Jam" is also called confiture in French. And then there's jelly, which is gelée [zhuh-LAY] in French, but which in my dialect of U.S. English is a generic term for either jelly (jelled syrup) or jam (with fruit pulp in it).

Anyway... Here's the recipe for confiture de mirabelles that I'm using. It comes from a French book by a woman named Christine Ferber that was published in the late 1990s and titled Mes Confitures. The point of the recipe is to keep as many chunks or pieces of fruit in the jelly as possible. That's why I'd call it preserves.


• 1.2 kg of whole mirabelle plums, or 1 kg pitted
• 800 g of sugar
• the juice of a small lemon
Rinse the plums in cold water. Dry them in a kitchen towel and cut them in half so that you can remove the pits. In a big bowl, mix the pitted plums and the lemon juice with the sugar. Let the mixture macerate for an hour.

Next, pour the fruit/sugar mixture into a pot and bring it to a bare simmer. At that point, pour it back into the bowl, cover it, and let it stand overnight in a cool place.

The next day, pour the fruit and syrup into a fine sieve and reserve the syrup separate from the fruit. Bring the syrup to a boil and skim it carefully to clarify it. Keep the heat on high. Reduce the liquid until it thickens and reaches a temperature of 105ºC.

Put the reserved fruit back into the syrup and, on high heat bring it back to the boil, stirring it gently. Continue skimming as the confiture boils for three minutes. At that point, it should be ready to be put up in jars.

So today, rather than sitting and pitting, I'll be standing, stirring, and skimming. Wish me luck. CHM, you told me I needed to make more plum jam, so I am doing so. There are so many plums this year. I'll save you at least a jar of it.

In her book, Christine Ferber recommends using the larger mirabelles de Nancy for these preserves, but I think the ones I have are mirabelles de Metz. They're the ones our neighbor across the street gave us the other day, minus the ones that Walt baked into a tart. They will have to do.


  1. I wish you'd posted this yesterday! I was making mirabelle jam.
    My recipe didn't involve sitting overnight. Like you, I like to have more fruit than sugar in my recipe so added some apricots.
    I shall be spreading some on toast for breakfast.

    1. I hope your confiture de mirabelles is good. Mine appears to be, but I've just barely tasted it so far.

  2. I think they are mirabelles de Metz too. Our quetsche (damson) is produciing fruit for the first time this year. We're collecting and freezing the fruit until we have enough ro make damson jam (my favourite!). I normally slit the fruit and skim for the pits after they're cooked. There's a lot of pectin in and around the pits that helps the jam to set. Given the holey bread our bakery produces, we need a firm jam for our tartines. Pauline.

    1. Pauline, I did the same with the little red plums we had — cooked them hole, with the stones, and then picked the stones out later. They aren't free-stone fruit so they are impossible to pit.

      By the way, don't slice a French baguette to make tartines the way you would slice a loaf of pain de mie anglais ou américain. Cut four- or six-inch inch sections of baguette and then cut those down the middle so that you have crust on the bottom of each and soft bread on top. Then toast them. The holes won't matter and you won't have confiture dripping on your clothes. Think of tarte when you think tartine. That's the idea.

    2. Ken, Pauline wasn't refering to the baguettes...
      they actually tend to be more solid...
      no, she means the batards, the complet, the boule, the pain de campagne, the grand pain [50cm long by 14 high and 18 wide]....
      all big loaves!

      The last grand pain we had from them had three diagonal holes of about 4cm diameter and 20 long...
      how are you meant to use breads like these?
      Get a grand pain of the same size from Simply Market in Liguel....
      nice, even texture throughout...
      no huge holes.
      And as for the paves... all crust and no dough!
      Often just one big hole from end to end!
      They also make a pain de mie...
      tastes just like a Weightwatchers special... yuck!
      But, their Presignoise baguettes... wonderful... just like a very crusty ciabatta...
      makes a wonderful sandwich! [Cut baguette-wise! ;-}

      The boulangerie in Lesigny does the same range of breads... but without the holes...
      the previous boulanger in GP made bread without huge holes.
      I've seen him buying his large breads from Lesigny... although he lives in GP!!
      He does get his baguettes from his former shop, though.
      I think that says something...

      I'd go to the one in PP if I could get our milk and papers in the same village...
      their bread is better, too!. But 20 kilometres for a loaf, paper and bread isn't a goer!

  3. Ken,so boring work. But jam is great product. I am sure.

  4. Another inspirational post, Monsieur ;)

  5. Can't wait to taste the mirabelle jam!

  6. i always thought mirabelles was blueberries....(guess not) are there blueberries there? and what is the word?

    1. Melinda, you are thinking of myrtilles. They grow them around here, and the native European myrtilles grow wild in the Alps.

  7. You showed me that way of making tartines, Ken. They will be so good with your confiture! I love the colors in today's post.

  8. oops, yes Ken....must be my 65 yr old brain

  9. I'll try my tartines that way next time we have a baguette. I often slice them that way without the toasting. Pauline (half way through making mirabelle conserve)


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