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French Jam 101: The top flavors in France

by | Feb 11, 2024 | Uncategorized

There are so many jam flavors to choose from in France! Here’s a quick tour of the 5 favorite jams the French love most. I also cover a few unusual flavors as well as the different ways they’re used for brunches like Mother’s Day, to accompany a cheese platter, waffles, and desserts.

The top 5 French jam flavors:

  1. Apricot– my French mother-in-law makes one of the best I’ve ever tasted: an apricot jam with rum and vanilla.
  2. Fig – this jam is very popular on crĂŞpes and waffles or with goat’s cheese
  3. Strawberry – this is a classic to go with a slice of baguette in the morning
  4. Prunes: there are hundreds of varieties, but the French favor the Quetsch, Reine-Claude, and Mirabelle varietals for jam
  5. Rhubarb– the tender red rhubarb, not the green rhubarb, is used to make this French jam.

Six unusual French jam flavors

I’m not sure if these flavors are unique to France, but I haven’t seen them very often elsewhere

1. Reine-Claude: a type of prune from the eastern regions of France named after Queen (“Reine”) Claude, the wife of King François 1er. (In early modern France they often named fruit varietals after the nobility or monarchs.)

2. Mirabelle: also a type of prune from the Lorraine region

3. Coing (Quince):  an ancient fruit resembling a pear that grows in the Mediterranean region of France

4. Sureau: (Elderberry)

5. Tomates Vertes: (Green Tomatoes)

6. Châtaigne or Marron (Chestnut): in jam or purée form

Châtaigne and Marron indicate the edible sweet chestnut with its spiny outer husk. It’s not to be confused with the “Marron d’Inde,” or Horse Chestnut, which is not edible and has a smooth husk.

There are 700 varietals of châtaignes and marrons in France, mainly from the Dordogne and Ardèche regions.

Where to buy French jam online:

Here are several high-quality brands of French jam that you can find on Amazon:

  1. Apricot Jam: Alain Milliat Apricot Bergeron Jam
  2. Fig Jam: Les Confitures a l’Ancienne Fig Jam Andresy
  3. Strawberry Jam: St Dalfour Strawberry Jam
  4. Chestnut Jam: Les Confitures a l’Ancienne Chestnut Jam Andresy

Beautiful jars for your French jams that also make lovely gifts:

If you or someone you know would enjoy displaying high-quality jams in beautiful jars, here’s a selection of jam jar sets and individual styles on Amazon.com:

  1. Godinger Windsor Clear Jam Jar with Spoon on Amazon.com An individual jam jar with a glamourous look worthy of a fine French jam. Gorgeous!
  2. Godinger Crystal Jam Jar with Stainless Steel Spoon on Amazon.com A charming and well-made crystal jam jar.
  3. Set of 3 White Ceramic Jam Jars on a Matching Tray by Comeon on Amazon.com This melon-shaped set also comes in green and reminds me of a French Provençal style. Very cute!
  4. Set of 3 Jam or Condiment Jars on a Matching Tray by Comeon on Amazon.com This pretty, modern set of 3 jars with matching tray and spoons comes in several colors to choose from to coordinate with your kitchen decor: white, pink, blue, green, and yellow.

How to pair French jam with different foods?

The French are famous for their bread products like baguettes, croissants, and brioches. So apart from these obvious ways to pair jams and jellies, are there any other ways they enjoy them?

Besides the typical bread + butter + jam trio, the French use jam in 3 other ways:

  1. With cheese. Here are a few examples of cheese/jam marriages made in heaven:

– Fig or green tomato jam with goat’s cheese

– Black cherry jam with ewe’s cheese from the Basque region (like “Ossau Iraty” cheese).

– Pear confiture with Roquefort cheese

– Apple jelly (gelĂ©e) with Camembert cheese from Normandy

  1. With France’s large variety of yogurts or yogurt-like products:

– on “fromage blanc” (a fermented milk product)

– on plain yogurt (instead of buying the yogurts with the fruit already added at the bottom)

– on “faisselle” ( another fermented milk product)

  1. With crepes and waffles as a snack or dessert. (These are very popular with children).

The top 4 jam flavors the French add to crepes and waffles are:

  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Apricot
  • Chocolate Nutella

Conclusion: Great jams are made by top gourmet food artisans:

Jams made by a talented gourmet food artisan are not just higher-priced versions of what you can get in the grocery store. They have a higher fruit to added sugar ratio and the ingredients are of better quality.

One of the signs of a great gourmet food artisan is that he can make you love a product you never thought you’d like.

For example, the French love chestnut jam as a dessert with “fromage blanc.” (Fromage balance literally means “white cheese,” but it’s a fermented milk product more like yogurt). But I’ve always hated this heavy dessert and avoided it.

One day, while placing an order with a French artisan for my favorite lavender honey, I noticed he also had a chestnut jam that he modestly described as “a chestnut product superior to all others. “

I decided to test his claim.

What piqued my interest was that he used only three ingredients: chestnuts, sugar, and vanilla extract. And the ratio of fruit to added sugar was a super high 60:40!

The verdict?

I was surprised by the woody scent of the chestnut purée and how the vanilla enhanced it. It tasted fantastic on toasted whole-grain bread with salted butter.

It’s more of a fall/winter jam, but now I’m addicted to it: I’ve just finished my second jar in two months!

Read more about the difference between an artisanal jam, jelly, marmalade, and preserve here…

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Photos: courtesy of Unsplash.com

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