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la confiture

If this Bollenoise* façade was jam-colored, what flavor would that be? What is your favorite jam or spread (Nutella, chestnut purée... or just plain ol' beurre?) for your morning toast? Leave your answers in the comments box. *from the southern French town of Bollène.

la confiture
(kohn-fee-tyur) noun, feminine
  1. jam

Audio File: Hear the French word confiture in the following example sentence:
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La culture, c'est comme la confiture, moins on en a, plus on l'étale
Culture is like jam, the less you have, the more you spread it.

More on French pronunciation, here.

(Note: This story was written and posted in the summer of 2005)

I walk into the kitchen to find my husband kissing a bottle of vanilla extract. He'd been searching for this key ingredient and, in finding "her" (French vanilla is undeniably feminine), was overcome with emotion.

The cupboards are wide-open, baring their spiced, sugared and cereal-boxed souls. The sink is full and the countertops have disappeared under a bumpy rug of lemons, figs, odd jars and cooking utensils. A toy helicopter, some binoculars and a map of the French Alps figure into this chaotic scene, inviting the question, "What's wrong with this picture?" On the stove top four casseroles quiver and spit.

Confiture If real French men make confiture* they don't seem to wear aprons. Mine's got on a bright orange T-shirt which reads "Châteauneuf-du-Pape" and which does not coordinate with his two-tone swim trunks in teal and gris.*

My eyes dart back to the storm of ingredients and imposters scattered across the counter. "Do you know what you are doing?" I say, concerned.
"Non," Jean-Marc answers, casually, and with a smile. With that, he picks up a carton of sugar and swirls the downpour over the bubbling, frothing fruit.

If I were the one making jam, I'd have scoured the sink, cleared and disinfected the countertops, scrubbed the figs. I'd have worn a shower cap, a stopwatch and a furrowed brow. I'd have taken the phone off the hook and lined up all the needed utensils by order of appearance before hyperventilating over a well lit, perfectly propped open cookbook. But then, I would never get around to putting together such a perfect environment in which to make perfect jam. That's why Jean-Marc is le confiturier* around here: he gets things done.

I look around our imperfect kitchen, to the messy counter, where my eyes focus on the cookbook which has been tossed aside, landing face down. Jean-Marc is not even consulting the recipe. There is not a scale, a measuring cup or spoon in sight. He is cooking au pif* again, guessing his way through the jam-making process. But will the result be any good? It will if last year's batch is any indication and besides--quelle* question! I have lived the answer... crowding the cupboards in anticipation--collecting odd jars and their matching lids (after speed-eating through the contents). In addition, I have crawled out from beneath our fig tree, my legs en compote*, my hair a nest of fig droppings (the tree's branches having teased it to heights and gnarls no fine-tooth comb could achieve), my knees scratched, my skin aflame (itching would follow), to arrange the harvest in a two-tiered basket at the feet of our Maître* Confiturier.  Ah, the things a sous-chef does for lovely confiture!

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always appreciated. Share them in the comments box, for all of us to enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Enrich your French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~

la confiture (f) = jam; gris = grey; le confiturier (la confiturière) = jam maker; au pif = by guesswork; quelle = what a; en compote = tired (legs); le maître (la maîtresse) = master

Expressions: faire des confitures = to make jam
donner de la confiture aux cochons = to throw pearls before swine

La vérité n'est pas faite pour consoler comme une tartine de confitures qu'on donne aux enfants qui pleurent. Il faut la rechercher, voilà tout, et écarter de soi ce qui n'est pas elle. Truth is not made to console like the buttered bread with jam that we give to children who cry. You have to look for it, that's all, and distance from yourself all that is not (truth). --Gustave Flaubert

"Porte Costerouze" (photo taken in February 2009, in Tulette).

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Apricot/Peach jam. I just tried French fig preserves for the first time-delectable!

Jennifer in OR

Peach. Yum. What a lovely post, thanks for sharing this!! I love the image in my mind of Jean-Marc being the mad scientist in the kitchen!

Karen Greenfield

Marmalade--not Silver Shred but the thicker cut kind. Served with a steaming hot pot of tea and LOTS of buttered toast and a big stack of new magazines....especially the Marie-Claire French version (which is how I practice my French).

Enid Wilson

Apricot is my favourite - but the trees in our garden don't favour us with fruit every year! Second place to strawberry and then plum -well we are in the Lot-et-Garonne where plums abound! My husband uses the plum jam as a base for a plum sauce to serve with duck - gorgeous.

Kerry Ann

Abricot! It is the favorite jam of our family, especially when spread on a crepe!


J'aime beaucoup la confiture figues violettes et la confiture cerises ou griottes!!! (Had to practice a little French) My husband prefers berry jam straight from the jar. I like it piled up thick on hot buttered toast. Come to think of it, I'll make some now. But cherry jam is nowhere to be found in local stores now.


What to do with all those mulberries in June after the neighborhood kids have eaten their fill? Confiture, of course! It keeps me from cursing the purple bird droppings everywhere. Just spread a sheet on the ground, shake the branches, and watch them fall.

Nancy L

Marmalade certainly! Possibly honey.
Speaking of men and husband * 88 yr old mother recently baked a cake in my kitchen (he did, under her direction). There was ALOT of improv since I seem to not have two cake pans the same size (and only three altogether anyway)Chocolate frosting smeared on the participants AND table cloth, placemats and clothing. Next time I told them that they can play, but they must clean up!

Debbie Chavers I am hungry! I havent't tasted a preserve that I didn't like. But I do prefer preserves over jam. I love to eat it on toast with hot tea, but my loved ones prefer it on big,fluffy southern biscuits with hot coffee and sides of bacon and eggs! Oh! is time for breakfast.


Impossible to choose a favorite! Four forest fruits -mmmm. Orange or grapefruit marmalade - so bright and sunny. Apricot or sour cherry jam - delicieuse.

Jon North

We make marmalade from the fruit on an extraordinary, prolific orange bush outside our friends' house in Sommières. Fig jam seeds get stuck in my teeth tho' I love the taste. Pure fruit for me - vanilla and such are a little OTT (my dictionary tells me that the French for this is outrancier/ière)


Bonjour Enid et bonjour à tous,
The whole family is in the mountains and I cook duck ("magret de canard") tonight with delicious local blueberry jam, pears and even more "succulent" local honey.
And, of course, I will pour our Mistral wine who just got a Gold Medal at the "Concours Général Agricole", an agicultural fair which takes place in Paris every February and where you can find all those great ingredients.


Alan Sommerman

Re: What to put on toast. For me, nothing beats toast with French butter (now available in US Supermarkets)and honey. However, I recently found a new favorite - Ficoco. It is imported from Croatia and is a mixture of fig jam and dark chocolate. I found it near the blocks of chocolate at Whole Foods. Very delicious, but expensive, so not an everyday indulgence. As far as confiture, I love apricot and stock up when Bonne Maman is on sale. For a delicious condiment mix 1 tablespoon of apricot jam with one teaspoon of dry (powdered) mustard - great with cold meats. It is the poorman's "mostarda di frutta."


Like Martina, we like figue. We tasted the best ever in the little town of Olargues during a chestnut festival a couple years ago. We've been obsessed with finding one of equally good taste ever since. We also like the French butter with crunchy chunks of sea salt in it. Yum!


Ah, Kristin, you have described a scene from my kitchen. Only substitute Ken for Jean-Marc and, let's say, pickled shrimp for le confiture. While he was busy creating or innovating I was still arranging the ingredients in order of appearance. Toujours, out of the chaos and his very agile mind something delicious appeared. BTW, my mother was la maitresse confiturière using southern muscadine, blackberry, plum ...yum.

Annette Heat

Fig preserves is a favorite childhood memory of mine. My Grandmother made it every summer along with grape from our arbor. I well recall the figs and the sticky leaves. She never used a cookbook. I loved the end result which always had some slices of lemon included in the jam.

Yes, the color of the bldg would remind one of peach ou apricot confiture.

It's delicious to grill English muffins in a skillet of butter vs toasting them. Try it sometime.

Merci once again. Annette

Linda R.

l'abricot bien sûr – c’est aussi ma confiture favorite


Congratulations Jean-Marc et famille on winning a Gold Medal for the Mistral wine! The descriptions of your dinner ce soir and all the postings today leave my mouth watering for toast and mon favori, blackberry preserves, ou, cerise. Speaking of confitures - there is a little place on Cours Mirabeau making crepes "to go," offering a wide assortment of toppings. I had one w/Nutella which gave new meaning to "fast food" to go. Fast and French! And THAT brings to mind a fantastic petit restaurant/cafe in Charleston, SC, called just that: Fast & French, on Broad Street. Owners Gaulart and Maliclet, French artists, will celebrate the cafe's 25th anniversary in May. Not to be missed. Read about these artists and their work:


Definiment, la confiture des abricots

Larry W. Griffith

abricot, absolument.. J'aime beaucoup plusier types de confiture. Je suis un apiculteur aussi mais je n'aime pas beaucoup de miel. Je vais acheter des ruches (des abeilles) quand je transférer à france..

Loretta Vandenberg

Marmalade. As it happens I bought Seville oranges that are available in January and February in Ontario and will be making a batch of marmalade this week. Can't wait.

Betty Bailey

Comment dites-vous en français "blackcurrant?" C'est mon favori!

Dr. Douglas Turgeon

The world's best was made by the woman who ran a restaurant on Ile St.-Louis called "Au Monde des Chimeres"(which has sadly been replaced by a not-as-cozy-and-friendly estasblishment, full of Parisian attitude).She made a homemade "confiture des abricots aux amandes" which was to die for!I would bring back 3 or 4 small jars (covered with saran wrap and rubber bands) to the States after each visit to Paris and her restaurant. Another sad passing of Parisian life.

Leslie H

Moi aussi j'aime faire mes propres confitures. Vous savez, vous pouvez les faire avec la moitié du sucre; il faut simplement les garder surgelées. Elles sont meilleures comme ça! Je préfère une confiture de poires avec du gingembre cristalisé.

Fred Caswell

Perhaps I inherited my love of sweet tastes from my mother side -- French, of course.

A mon age, confiture est la meilleure quand fait sans des sucre. J'ai trouve une solution pour quelque chose pour etalant sur mes tranches de pain --de la compote de pommes ou des houmous contenant des poivron rouge, le deus toujours froid. Ils ont tres bon gout et sont santes aussi!

Karen Leveille

I learned the folly of trying to "multi-task" a few years ago while making la confiture aux fraises. Pleased that I'd managed to clean and cut up multiple quarts of fresh strawberries, and overly confident that I knew well what I was doing, I set the pots to boil and turned my attention elsewhere (dishes to wash? laundry to fold? I don't remember.) In the blink of an eye, the jam had bubbled up and over and cascaded down the front and sides of the stove. It was the stickiest mess I have ever tried to clean up!


Apricot every day... Cascadian Farms organic. I also have fond memories of discovering glazed apricots in Paris as a student. Apricot seems to be a popular choice.
The only jam I have made is beach plum. The picking of the plums by the seashore was the best part.
Your photographs as well as your words touch so many senses.

Fred Caswell

Corrections of my French are most welcomed.

Margaret Brown

Since arriving in France nearly 18 months ago I have tried to be a good French housewife by making confit de canard, patés, fritons, gesiers confit, bottled beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, ratatouille and lots of other goodies. However most of the space in the sous-sol is taken up with confiture. The latest 20 jars being a speciality of this region of the Quercy Blanc - confiture de pasteque. This is a long oblong 'courge' which smells and tastes like water melon although the flesh is a very pale green. It was grown in our potager and is very prized around here. The taste is wonderful and French friends appreciate nothing more than a jar of home-made jam. I now usually use the jam=making method given to me by the stall holder where I bought my apricots last year. (He gave me a kiss for the pot of jam I gave him afterwards!) His granmother's recipe was to cut the apricots in half, remove and throw away the stones, cover the fruit with half it's weight in sugar i.e. 2 kilos apricots to 1 kilo sugar. Leave sugar to melt into the fruit overnight and then cook as normal. If you want the fruit to be distributed evenly throughout the jar, let the jam stand for 10 mins. in the pan before bottling. I have used this method for lots of different fruit, including our own figs, and it is a winner every time. Most French recipes give the same amout of sugar to fruit but this is too sickly sweet for me and bad for the teeth and the diet!!!!

Jordan dunn

I love honey from Provence. It reminds me of the most lovely mornings waking up in Provence surrounded by the most glorious smells. Also preserves made from melons du Cavaillon. Yum!!!!


Great post, and definitely made me laugh. As my fiance says in a horrified voice from time to time to friends, "She doesn't actually FOLLOW the recipes! She just sort of "gets inspired" by them. Usually we don't have half the ingredients the recipe calls for. It drives me crazy." Yet, he eats everything I cook up. :)


Your façade is definitely Apricot! My two favorites are my grandmere's fig preserves, you cannot buy this kind of good! And Mayhaw jelly...mmmm. What makes it "French Fig"?

Congrats on your Gold Medal Jean Marc and Kristin!

Jacqui McCargar

My favorite would have to be coings from Provence, A friend who owns the B&B Pierre de Lune in Fox-Amphoux makes a lot of her own confiture and aperitifs, always lovely! Wish I had a fresh baguette about now!


Just thinking about my favorites makes my mouth water. For breakfast I love a tartine with butter and confiture de cassis. I also love miel de lavande; the best I ever found was purchased in Gordes. And I once found a combination miel et confiture de roses that was heavenly! If only I could find it again!

Edith Schmidt

Strawberry jam is definity my favorite.My amazing mother who passed away in 2006 at age 99 was not a great cook. She was famous for burning the beans!
In spite of that small failing, she did make great strawberry jam. I remember it fondly and wish that I could duplicate it, but somehow it probably wouldn't taste as good.



I love to make jelly and jam as well. My partner wrote this of our last crab apple jelly making experience: It has photos of the process from start to finish in our humble kitchen. We both had a touch of OCD like Kristen though, so everything was scrubbed to perfection before beginning!


L'abricot -- sans aucun doute -- avec un petit moule a ajouté.
Quel bâtiment charmant!


Please, share a recipe (or 2) for your husband's jam!

Sheila burrell

Abricot, bien sur!

bill en Libye

Le couleur du mur c'est ca d'abricot, tres populaire! I do soooo enjoy this blog and all the comments. I would happily point out (and congratulate Kristin)that "Words in a French Life" has been mentioned on my other favorite website, Anu Garg's A Word A Day ([email protected]), which, this week is featuring French words that are commonly used everywhere.
Also I especially love the description of Jean-Marc in the kitchen. Je suis d'accord: Who needs a recipe? I was lol reading today's post. Merci beaucoup!
Bill Lloyd


Colour of the façade? I think a bright “apricot” revival would be absolutely great!

My favorite jam? Seville orange marmalade on toast used to be a favourite, but not so much now. We always keep one or two jars of organic honey in the cupboard and we always enjoy trying some new ones. So delicious... difficult to say which one is my favourite!
A great non-sweet spread for breakfast is houmous, spread on bread and eaten with a tomato or stick of celery - easier & quicker to make houmous than jam and no need to fill an army of jars in one go. I only do 2 at a time...

I love “compote”, made mostly with Bramley apples, the best British apples for cooking, available nearly all the year round. Delicious when gently stewed with cinnamon + hardly any sugar (raw muscavado sugar if possible) and some sultanas. Adding rhubarb is a treat! "La compote de pommes" (stewed apples) is everybody's favourite for breakfast, on the top of a bowl of porridge - or at any time of the day with natural yogurt, or on a fresh slice of homemade bread...
Strawberry jam has a special place in my “sweet” childhood memories. One of my grandmothers was famous for her “gelée de groseilles” (redcurrant jelly) and her “confiture de cerises” (cherry jam) but her “confiture de fraises” (strawberry jam) was by far my favourite! She used to say: ½ strawberries, ½ sugar.... but always used to add a lot of extra strawberries!


Hi Kristin!

I enjoyed the description of the kitchen and the jam making session with Chef confiturier Jean-Marc and his sous-chef! Orange t-shirt, matching kitchen tiles (and tomatoes), "le chef" supervising his saucepans full of bubbly fruit ... such a friendly scene!
As for to-night celebration, Jean-Marc won't probably follow a recipe, but the result will most probably be sensational. His wonderful assistant might write down the list of ingredients, the step by step of the performance, and even take some photos (?)
Dear Kristin and Jean-Marc, you must be over the moon! Félicitations pour la Médaille d'Or attribuée au “Mistral”. Quelle joie et quel honneur!
Have a great evening!


Has to be peanut butter, althought I just tried French Fig for the first time and loved it. If I use jelly, I only buy jellies from France, strawberry still my favorite.

Ally Barton

The colour is of golden gage, a fruit I'd never seen 'till we bought this house with a golden gage tree in the garden. The fruits are wonderful, succulent, juicy and plum like but the jam a little sweet and bland - maybe needs additional quince or lemon to sharpen it. Anyone any ideas? Jean-Mark?
(my favourite is probably blackcurrant - preferably fresh!)


Mermelada de chabacano, por supuesto!
Apricot marmalade, of course!
Never thought it is (was?) so popular! Yummi!
My French husband does exactly the same thing as Jean-Marc... actually he is the one who always cooks... then the kitchen is always a mess... but oulalá with the results! It is totally worthy!


I thought of pumpkin butter, but apricot marmalade sounds much more delicieux.

Camille Kelling

Je pense la confiture apricot est le couleur de mur. J'aime la beurre avec la confiture fraise. Ah mais Nutella, nutella, nutella! Heaven on a spoon, n'est-ce pas? What a fun story! Merci beaucoup for sharing it with us.

Cindy Gooch in Phoenix AZ USA

Evidemment, les murs sont abricots...comme la confiture j'utilise dans mon «Gâteau des abricots victorien.*»

Quant à moi, j'achète la plus souvent la confiture «Bonne Maman» - la myrtille - parce qu'elle vient de la France!

*La recette était dans la revue américaine VICTORIA.


Sur mon pain grillé j'aime beurre de cacahuètes, mais sur mes crepes, j'amie le marron.
Le couleur de la mur est miel.
A few years ago, during one of my summers in France, my friend and I made plum jam and blackberry jam. They were so delicious. We got most of our plums from the ground and we spent many hours picking the berries. The end result was well worth the time picking, and we also managed to eat as many as we picked.


Pumpkin jam! Unusually i know, tried it once in Paris with a friend from New Zealand, on scones with mascarpone! DELICIOUS!
J'adore nutella on crepes, another addiction picked up in Paris but sometimes you can't go past butter and strawberry jam!
Bon appetite!


Hello Betty,
- blackcurrant = groseille noire - cassis
- redcurrant = groseille (rouge)
- gooseberry = groseille à maquereau
- blackberry = mûre
- blueberry = myrtille

Hello Fred,
Nous aussi, nous tartinons notre pain avec de la compote! Si vous aimez la confiture, mais sans sucre, alors, la compote de pommes est idéale -délicieuse avec un peu de cannelle (cinnamon). Oui, c'est très bon pour la santé. Aaah! Je viens de lire que vous aimez aussi le houmous! Il faudra que j'essaye d'en faire avec des poivrons rouges. Thanks for the idea.
PS - plenty of recipes on the internet for houmous and red peppers. Wonderful! I'll make some this w/end.


Salut Kristin
When we are in France and when queueing in traffic (not as often as here in London, thankfully) we occasionally have a joke about 'un confiture des voitures'. Yes, we know it isn't French but a literal (Franglais) translation of the phrase 'traffic jam'. However, is there a proper French term we can use? As the traffic is generally so good perhaps you don't have need of the expression!

Sandy Howell

It looks like apricot to me. My favorite spread is Nutella -- with bananas! Besides crepes, it's great on toast or bagels. I take care of two of my grandchildren, ages 2 and 4, and they both love Nutella.


Joanne Johnson

The Bollenoise facade is apricot-flavored! My favorite confiture is Sarabeth's Orange Apricot Marmalade, manufactured by SBK Preserves, Inc. Bronx, NY 10474 USA (1-800-773-7378). It's the best!


Fig is my favorite, followed by plum and apricot. Congratulations on your Gold Medal Jean Marc.

Mina Krishnan

Absolutely love what you've done to your blog - very, very impressed!
French confiture is in a class by itself - surely you cannot debase it by referring to it by the very mundane name of 'jam', to which it has no relation!


Hi Shirley, I enjoyed your "confiture de voitures". In French, a traffic jam is "un bouchon". Here are some examples, from French news:

Mina, many thanks. As for confiture -- I wasn't aware of the difference, but continue to learn so much about the topic thanks to the helpful feedback here!

Margaret : thanks for the recipe. I will try it. I've only made jam (er... confiture? no, maybe that was jam...) once before. I'm now psyched to try again!

Larry: maybe we can trade apiculture (apicole?) lessons for wine? We've lost two hives since embarking on the bee adventure.


Though, I'll have to try pumpkin jam. I love pumpkins!
My young housemate (from Bretagne)loves Nutella on "authentic" crepes. :)


Betty B: according to LaRousse, blackcurrent = cassis (m.)

Et Je dois dire! grilling du pain in butter sounds tres tasty! I don't need to know this, but thanks for grand l'idee, Annette!

Lisa Richtmann

I love apricot and black raspberry jam! The only time I've ever made jam was when I was an au pair and spending the summer in a little Loire village. We picked plums from the neighbor's garden and I made la confiture! I remember reading the French cookbook and checking the dictionary for some translations. The confiture actually came out well! It is a fond French memory!


What I like about this site is that it brings together people who love food as well as French. a pleasure to read and glad to be going to France again soon!

Jan Hersh

The best I ever tasted was green and served at a chateau in Beaune. I was told that it was made of rhubarb. There was only one jar left for sale and my friend bought it. At least I thought she was a friend. I would pay a lot of money for the recipe.


To answer a question from Betty Bailey--
Blackcurrant en francais est "cassis."

rita day

My mother used to make 72 one pound jars of blackberry jelly every year and so I loathe it now. My favourite food is five grain brown bread and Sea Salt butter from Brittany: I get up in the middle of the night to make a hot cuppa and toasted bread and salted butter before retiring again and sleeping like a babe. I recently found quince jam, which some people have never heard of. It is a hard perfumed pear shaped fruit only used in cooking.



I went to a Health Food shop yesterday but not for buying jam. Did I have (unconsciously) this "confiture" newsletter at the back of my mind? -may be...
I discovered and bought for the first time a 300g tub of 'SUNWHEEL' 100% FRUIT SPREAD:
100% fruit
100% natural
No added sugar
I chose the combination: pear concentrate, 60%, abricot concentrate, 30% & apple concentrate, 10%.
We tried it on our homemade wholemeal bread and on rough oatcakes.
Lovely texture, very easy to spread and... natural fruit sweetness...
Absolutely de-li-cious!
We'll soon be going to France and will look for some equivalent product - perhaps called something like --> "100% pâte de fruit à tartiner"?


Pumpkin butter, to be sure! But the color also brings to mind persimmons, so perhaps with enough sugar...


A confiturier is also a container, glass, crystal or china to present jam at the table.

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