[Smooth and grainy – The paradox of chesnut and vanilla jam]


From Christine Ferber’s Mes confitures (page 161)

Some weeks ago I decided to have a ‘jam-making’ weekend to celebrate my new cookbook from Christine Ferber.

I had heard lots of positive reviews about Mes confitures and couldn’t resist getting my hands at it.
Thus I randomly picked three recipes – all very vanilla-ish:
confiture de châtaigne à la vanille [chesnut and vanilla jam]
confiture de potimarron à la vanille [pumpkin and vanilla jam]
confiture de tomate rouge à la vanille [tomato and vanilla jam]

Les châtaignes
I love chestnuts and their earthy smell.
They remind me of Christmas; especially of fairs where you would get piping hot chestnuts served in newspaper cones.
And while I’m on a confessional mood I should tell you that I am a severe crème de marron addict.
I can eat it straight from the pot – with a spoon.

Confiture de châtaigne à la vanille
I first thought it was supposed to be like a spread but after having read the recipe twice, I notice Christine doesn’t call for a food mill. She just say ‘crush any big bits with a wooden spoon’.
I find it quite original – chunky crème de marron.

Hence I was slightly disappointed when a lovely lady from Christine Ferber’s shop in Alsace told me it was a smooth jam.
I had had high expectations about a deconstructed crème de marron.

Anyway, it didn’t stop me from boiling the chestnuts and peeling them.
It actually took a lot of time and nerve to peel the chestnuts. I burnt my finger almost a billion times resulting in my poor thumbs being really sore and red!
Hopefully the nearly ready jam will ease my pain. Comfort food, they call it!



Indeed I wasn’t disappointed: the jam turned out as excellent as I expected it to be.
Sweet, but not overly so.
A perfect texture – smooth and grainy, but in a good way.
A delicious nutty taste you don’t get in bought-crème de marron (even the Faugier one).

Confiture de châtaigne à la vanille

1,2 kg chestnuts (= 800g peeled chestnuts)
1kg sugar (fanny: 800g would be enough)
400ml water (fanny: I had to add another 400ml of water)
1 vanilla pod

Start by cutting a little ‘x’ on each chestnut, add them to boiling water and boil them for 3 minutes.
Peel them; while you’re doing it don’t think about the pain but about the luscious jam you’re making (it really helps).
In a large pan, mix the peeled chestnuts, sugar water and seeds from the vanilla pod. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, put the mixture back into a pan and bring to the boil stirring continuously.
Pass through a food mill and cook the resulting smooth paste on low heat for 10 minutes.
Ladle the jam into sterilized jars immediately and seal.