Sunday, August 28, 2011

Confiture de Vieux Garcon

"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection."~ Curnonsky
My Confiture de Vieux Garcon.

It is not too late to get your confiture de vieux garcon ready for the holidays.  What, you may ask, exactly is a confiture de vieux garcon?  Well, it is literally "old boy's jam" and is an ancient recipe that is measured in generalities rather than exact measurements.  It is a delicious mix of alcohol, we are gonna use Brandy, and luscious fruit of the summer season.  It will take 3-6 months to ferment into deliciousness, just in time for the Christmas holidays if you get your groove on and run to the market.

Now bear in mind that this is not a traditional "jam", but rather a melange of the freshest of summer or fall fruits soaked in sugar and alcohol.  This is not a tea and toast kind of jam for breakfast that we're making in this recipe.  Rather, it is an after dinner dessert of the heady fruit and alcohol concoction to be served with a strong coffee.  When your serving this novel dessert this Christmas, know that it is being served across Provence, France, as a traditional Christmas and New Year's Eve delicacy.  Who says us Americans cannot show a little culture during the holidays?!?


1.  Decide what fruit you would like to include in your confiture de vieux garcon.  It is important to pick the freshest, organic fruit you can find in your area.   Please make sure your fruit is blemish free.  The best fruits to include are our traditional summer fruits of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, currents, gooseberries, grapes, and very-very small plums.  Do not overdo your strawberries as they can overcome the delicate taste of the fruit.  Do not use any fruit that is exotic, think kiwi or mango, or citrus, like lemon or lime or an orange. ( Be sure to know the weight of your fruit as you will want the same weight in sugar to add to the alcohol.  Now no worries on calories here.  Christmas dessert is a calorie free sort of meal.)

2.  If you are using peaches or apricots, be sure to peel and stone them, then cut in quarters.  All other fruits are to be washed and dried gently to prevent spoilage in the alcohol.

3.  Now, the container that will hold our little summer jewels is of the utmost importance.  You will need either a fermenting crock like this one:Harsch Gairtopf Fermenting Crock Pot - 7.5 Liter - ME7428.  I have this crock, but am not using it for my confiture as I am going to try my hand at sauerkraut next month.

You could also use a Le Parfait French Glass Canning Jar with 85mm Gasket and Lid - 2 Liter, which is what I am using for my confiture.  The lid fits the jar perfectly, not allowing any air in when used with the gasket.

Or you can use something like this Jarden 68100 6 Count Wide Mouth Canning Jars

Again, the most important part of your decision as to which jar to use is to find something that is pretty much airtight, but will allow for the venting of fermentation gases.  Size is important as you will want to gauge how much fruit you will be fermenting along with the sugar and alcohol.  Somewhere around 1/2 gallon container should be good for a first confiture venture.

3.  Now you have your container and your fruit is ready.  Measure your sugar to equal in weight the fruit.  So if you are putting up 3 pounds of fruit in your confiture, then you will need three pounds of sugar.

4.  In a large, heavy saucepan, mix the sugar with 3 cups of your favorite brandy.  Heat, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar.

5. Layer your fruit in your jar in the following order:  strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, peach, and pear.  Remember, you can use any combination of fruit.  Then pour your sugar laden brandy over the fruit, leaving a 3/4 inch headspace.   Check to see that all the fruit is covered with the brandy and none is peaking above the level of the brandy to prevent spoilage.  Your headspace allows for the slight expansion of the fruit as it ferments.

6.  Place the lid on the container, sealing it.  Then place your confiture in a cool, dark place in your pantry. Let it macerate for 3-6 months.  Every week or so turn the jar upside down to help the sugar distribute  and permeate among the fruit if using the European canning jar or the Jarden wide mouth canning jar.

7.  Now the fun part.  When you are ready to serve this delicious concoction of fruit and alcohol, serve it as a dessert in small glasses being sure to distribute the alcohol among the glasses.  You can also serve your confiture de vieux garcon over ice cream, topped with whipped cream or yogurt, eaten with cheese, and over waffles. It would taste wonderful spooned over a pound cake or scones.  The liquid makes a lovely cordial to be sipped not chugged.

I'll report back as we get closer to the holidays as to how my confiture is getting along.  I know it is going to be good.  I mean really, can you ever have too much fruit in alcohol sitting around waiting to become the ultimate dessert?  I think not.....

 "Nous allons donc la fete commence."

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