Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Le Pommé

My apologies for the lack of posts and responses to email and comments for the last week or two. I was wandering around Normandy and out of touch with technology. I was very much in touch with apples, cider, pommeau and calvados, of course, and so I think an apple recipe is in order. In fact, this recipe is from the Sarthe region rather than Normandy but let's not worry about geography. Pommé is a kind of apple jam without added sugar – well, actually it’s more of a cross between a jam and an intense compote. The only ingredients are dessert apples, cider and a lot of time. The result is an amber-coloured, soft jam with an extraordinary depth of apple flavour.

The flavour of  pommé will vary a lot with the type of apple chosen and I think the best option is to use a mix of sharp and sweet apples, if you have them. I used a mix of British dessert apples with Worcester Pearmain the main variety. The recipe doesn’t take a lot of effort once the preparation’s done but you do need a day when you don’t really want to stray too far from the kitchen. (I have a fair number of those).

To make this properly you really should have a cooking pot suspended over an open fire in a Sarthe farmhouse, but, since I don’t have either the farmhouse or the fire, this method has been tested in an ordinary kitchen. You should end up filling about 4 standard jam jars.
Pommé
2 kg dessert apples
2 litres sweet or semi-sweet cider

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Put them in a decent-sized preserving pan and pour over a third of the cider. Put the pan on the heat and cover. Cook gently for 3 hours, stirring every so often to make sure that the apples don’t stick.

After 3 hours you should have a very loose compote. Add another third of the cider and continue cooking the mixture with the lid off for another 3 hours. Don’t forget to keep stirring every so often.

Six hours after you started you should have an intensely fragrant mix which has an unfortunate resemblance to wallpaper paste. (Try to ignore this fact - I’m sorry I even mentioned it). Add the final third of the cider and continue cooking and stirring for another 2 – 3 hours. The colour should now be a pleasing amber and the mixture will have thickened somewhat. (It will never become a solid jam – it’s really not meant to be).

Allow the pommé to cool slightly, pour into sterilised jars and, once cooled, store in the fridge. It’s good with breakfast, can be used with savoury dishes (notably pork, of course) and is great in desserts.

Of course if you do have an open fire in a Sarthe farmhouse then can I come round some day? We could make pommé  and eat sablés all day long.

8 comments:

  1. Oooh, lucky you. I want to be in Normandy too...

    That said, I've just stripped my neighbour's tree and have a gigantic crate full of the perfect kind of apples for this jam, and perhaps a few more apple recipes are in order from your kind self?

    My question... what kind of cider do you use for this recipe? Alchoholic or not? And can I use the sparkling variety we get here in Canada rather than the still one from England?

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  2. What a gorgeous colour - it looks well worth the time spent on it.

    I envy your time in France; family illnesses mean we haven't been able to go at all this year - we usually fit in at least a week there.

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  3. Oooh. What a lovely simple recipe. And the colour is divine. I bet the house smelt wonderful!

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  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone.
    Michelle - Traditionally the recipe uses a sparkling (and alcoholic) French cider. Actually, I used a slightly less lively English cider. I'm not sure it matters too much which one you choose but don't use a dry cider or the final taste just won't be sweet enough.
    Suelle - Sorry to hear your bad news. I hope you make it back to France soon.

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  5. I wish I did have a Sarthe Farmhouse - you would be very welcome. This looks and sounds delicious (until you mentioned wallpaper paste). My girls would love it, they eat apple sauce until they burst.

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  6. Now I know what I can do with my store of windfall apples, some given to me in Derbyshire, the others by friends in France.

    We already eat a lot of apple compote which we bring back from our trips to France and use it like you suggest you would use pommé, so I am looking forward to making this.

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  7. I love France and I love apples. This looks so good.

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