Locally grown summer fruits and berries are sweeter and more flavorful than imported varieties. Unfortunately for residents of temperate climates, their growing season is only a few short weeks. Ripe strawberries, raspberries, peaches and pears can be cooked into fruit jam, canned and enjoyed all year long, but who has the time for that?
This bachelor jam recipe is so simple that even an old bachelor can make it, or so the legend goes. Known in France as Confiture de Vieux Garçon, this alcoholic fruit preserve is made by adding fruits to a large container covering them with sugar, and topping the mixture off with a favorite alcohol.
As different fruits come into season, they are added to the pile, covered with more sugar and alcohol and left to macerate in the jar. By the holidays, the multi-layered fruits have softened into a jam that can be eaten on its own, or used as a topping for other desserts.
Bachelor Jam Recipe
1 gallon wide mouthed jar or crock, perfectly cleaned, sterilized and dried
5 cups of fresh, ripe, unblemished fruit
4 to 5 cups fine grain sugar
5 to 6 cups decent vodka or other 80 proof alcohol
Put a quantity of fruit in the container
Cover the fruit with the same quantity of sugar (or a little less)
Cover the mixture with the same quantity of alcohol (or a little more)
Close the container, do not stir
Repeat when the next type of fruit comes into season
When the mixture is an inch from the top, seal the container hermetically
Put the container in a cool dark place and wait between 3 and 6 months
Attention should be made that the fruit is always completely covered by the alcohol, or mold might develop, and once opened, the bachelor jam should be consumed within the year.
Clean and Sterilize the Jars for Fruit Jam
The most difficult step in bachelor jam is cleaning the container, otherwise the jam may take on the subtle flavors of whatever the jar previously contained. Strawberries with a hint of pickle and old sponge are not delicious. To remove residual odors, run jars through the dishwasher a few times, soak them overnight in liquid dish detergent, or wash them down with vinegar or baking soda and rinse well.
Preparing the Summer Fruit
Strawberries – small and medium berries with their stems removed are added whole
Cherries – added whole with the pit and the stem
Apricots, Plums, Peaches and Nectarines – cut into quarters with the pit removed
Raspberries – added whole and preferably unwashed
Pears – cored and cut into thick slices
Grapes – added whole
Melon – not too ripe, cut into cubes
Perfecting the Sugar, Alcohol and Fruit Recipe
There are two schools of thought about the fruit recipe proportions. The symmetric strategy is to measure equal parts fruit, sugar and alcohol. An easier and more approximate method is to cover the fruit with a half an inch of sugar each time a new type of fruit is added, and then to add enough alcohol to cover the mixture by an inch.
With sweet, summer fruits, bachelor jam will never come out bad. Some mixtures, however, are better than others. Juicy fruits, like melons, should be used sparingly since they produce a jam that is very liquid. The quantity of raspberries, should be increased so that their delicate flavor will not be lost in the mix. Exotic and citrus fruits should be avoided, since they are overpowering and do not age well.
Any 80 proof alcohol may be used. A decent, non bitter vodka, works well and will not modify the flavor of the fruit. Other alcohols such as kirsch, aged rum or cognac, will enhance the jam’s flavor, although some experimentation may be required to come up with a blend that does not overpower the fruit.
Confiture de Vieux Garçon Serving Ideas
Most fans of fruit liqueur only need a long spoon to enjoy bachelor jam. Traditionally, it is served with ice cream or sorbet at Christmas. Sweeter jams are best paired with neutral desserts like pound cake or waffles. bachelor jam made with less sugar will marry better with desserts that are already sweetened, like ice cream and cheesecake. Lonely old bachelors warm themselves in the wintertime with their alcohol jam on toast.