One of my favourite niches to visit during wintertime is Christine Ferber’s tiny shop in Niedermorschwihr, Alsace – an improbably picturesque wine-growing village of gaily coloured, half-timbered houses. Inside the Ferber shop, row upon row of bonneted and beribboned jam pots jostle for space – and if your timing is right, freshly baked kugelhopf loaves studded with almonds and dusted with icing sugar will have just emerged from the ovens.
I’m far from the only fan of these delicious Alsatian confitures; they are fêted by French chefs such as Alain Ducasse andPierre Hermé, and can be found on Sunday brunch tables at Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon and Four Seasons Hotel Georges V. Ferber also has a faithful following in Japan, but despite this success she remains determined to preserve the artisanal nature of the business. She and her team prepare all the fruit for jams and jellies by hand and cook them in batches of just 4kg, using the burnished copper pans inherited from her mother.
Her range is amazingly comprehensive, with over 70 different kinds (from €7 each) including raspberries, black cherries, redcurrant and the gorgeous, purplish-black Quetsch plums (a personal favourite) – all from local growers. Wild fruits such as bilberries and blackberries are foraged in the nearby forests, and only the more tropical ingredients – citrus fruits, mangoes, pineapples – are necessarily sourced further afield. Some have a seasonal flavour – the Confiture de Pommes de Noël, for example, pairs tiny Christmas apples with dried fruits and spices – while black cherry with Kirsch is labelled a Confiture pour Monsieur. All are free from colourings or additives, and most have a lower-than-usual sugar content. These preserves are fresh, bright and less cloyingly sweet than most – and if Niedermorschwihr is a little too far to go for a pot of jam, they are available online, too.