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, fruit spreads, and preserves to pair with foods such as crepes and waffles, and in recipes for cakes and pastries One of the most popular pairings, however, is pairing French jams, spreads, and/or preserves with cheeses – which is an excellent idea to keep in mind for your next party or gathering.
France produces more than 1200 varieties of cheese with very different textures and tastes. Cheeses are part of France’s image and are often associated with France along with French honey and wines. So, it comes as no surprise that delicious jam / preserves are paired with their wonderful cheeses.Reasons Why French Jams and Confitures are Among the Best
There are several reasons why traditionally made French jams are mouthwatering. Their delicious preserves and jams are due in part to the French processes of cooking the fruits etc. in copper cauldrons – the traditional way -- due to copper transferring heat evenly etc. But there are other reasons as well:Fruit Quality
Quality starts from the beginning: with the quality of the fruit selected. French jam manufacturers like Les Confitures à l’Ancienne are particular about the fruits they add to their mixtures to get the perfect blend of flavors. They avoid using artificial colors and flavoring play thereby preserving the original freshness and fruit taste.The Ratio of Fruit to Sugar Content
The traditional recipe is another reason French jams taste so good. The essence of a perfectly balanced jam or confiture lies in ingredient ratios. The French consciously choose to add a higher percentage of fruits in proportion to the sugar, taking advantage of the fruit’s natural flavor. This method is central to their jam creation and why they prefer to buy juicier and richer fruits for their products. It also leads some of the local manufacturers to have seasonal jams. Making off-season jam would require them to use frozen fruits, which isn’t a practice they generally prefer.Reliance on French-Grown Fruit as Much as Possible
French jam and confiture manufacturers try to use French-grown fruits as much as possible. It doesn’t come as a surprise because France is known for producing some of the best produce, but there are more implications.
This preference affects jam quality extensively, especially in terms of the unique flavors. The produce in Provence is especially renowned for its exceptional quality, so it’s expected that their local businesses produce better treats than most international ones.
Pairing French Confitures / Preserves with Cheese
Here are a few suggestions of cheese and preserves / jam that we and others have found to work especially well:
Try pairing Les Confitures à l’Ancienne, Figure Preserves - fig jam with any chevre or goat’s cheese
Pair Fig Jam with Baked Brie or Camembert Cheese with Gourmet du Villages, baked brie in skillet kits. Kit includes a 5.5″ cast iron skillet and box of fig pistachio topping. Skillet is reusable on both stove top or in oven. Additional topping flavors can be purchased separately.
- Pairing or topping chevre / goat’s cheese or French Comté with Les Confitures à l’Ancienne, Myrtille Sauvage - is always delicious. You can also bake it making it especially delicious when served over a water cracker.
- Try pairing Les Confitures à l’Ancienne Apple, Pear and Walnut Preserves French confiture with a good Roquefort cheese. This French preserve is especially delicious for baking when sprinkled with blue or Roquefort cheeses.
- Pair Raspberry Preserves or Four Mixed Red Fruits with Parmesan Cheese a s the slightly sweet, slightly tart raspberry jam will balance and enhance the delicate flavor of parmesan. (And don’t forget Raspberry jam makes excellent fill for cookies!)
- Another suggestion is pairing a tangerine jam such as Les Confitures à l’Ancienne Tangerine Preserves or orange marmalade jam such as the popular and heavenly Caprichos del Guadalquivir’s with a fresh cheese. A very traditional pairing is the one between orange / tangerine jam, with its sour taste, and fresh cheeses with a soft texture and a sweet flavor such as ricotta, camembert, brie, and mascarpone.
Some common pairings in brief!
Cheddar Cheese - Fig jam, strawberry jam, or mustard all pair well with cheddar cheese. A sweeter jam like strawberry will pair well with a young, mild cheddar, while a bold aged cheddar is great with hot pepper jelly, mustard or even a chutney.
Cream Cheese - Cream cheese pairs well with blackberry jam for a sweet twist or choose a contrasting cheese for a balanced bite.
Havarti Cheese - Havarti, a soft and creamy Danish-inspired cheese, pairs well with raspberry, strawberry, and fig jam.
In general, if it is a strong cheeses with clear-cut taste characteristics, select a fruits such as fig, mirabelle plum, quince, chestnut, cherry, grape, or apricot. For example, pair Les Confitures à l’Ancienne Peach Preserves with Vanilla with cheeses with an intense, marbled or spicy flavor such as Pecorino, Formaggio di Fossa or Gorgonzola.
Equally, for milder cheeses, either hard and firm or soft and creamy, we suggest preserves, spreads, or jams with berries such as blueberry, plums, blueberry, plums.
In sum, cheese plates are one of the easiest, yet most elegant (and delicious), ways to delight your family and friends, whether it be a small gathering or a hosted event. Next time, make a match made in heaven by putting some of your favorite French jams in a small ramekin and watch what happens!