I first tried beer jam (gelée de bière in French) at the market in Laval, Mayenne in the Pays de la Loire. It is without a doubt one of the nicest markets I’ve ever been to, on a large square, lined with bars, boulangeries, shops and trees. There’s a grand church at one end with a clock-ringing tower, and at the other end a castle turned art museum. Many of the stalls have jugs of flowers on, intended to make people smile, the market vendors agreed years ago to display flowers each week after a spring flower initiative was a huge success.
On a stall in the corner of the market near the church, a row of small jars caught my eye. ‘Beer jam, I’ve never heard of it’ I said to the stall holder. He assured me it was delicious, goes well with cold meats, strong and salty cheese and mature goats cheese and well, just about anything. The people of Laval are foodies and know these things. They set a world record for the longest rillettes (paté) sandwich in 2021 – a stonking 81.2m – which also goes well with beer jam!
I bought some at the market, tried it with goats cheese and walnuts – and I’ve been a fan ever since. The trouble is, I’ve never been able to find in the shops or at markets where I live in the north. So I make it myself and it’s very easy.
Some people use dark beer, I like it with blonde beer. It’s very sweet, basically made from beer and sugar and it looks like honey in the jar.
Ingredients for beer jam
250ml (8.45 fl oz) beer (craft beer gives the best taste)
350g (1.4 cups) brown sugar
2g gelatin (powder works best)
Mix the beer and the sugar with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the gelatin and mix then heat until boiling and leave on a low heat for about 15 minutes.
Pour the hot liquid jelly into sterilised jars and leave to cool for two hours, then store in the fridge.
More delicious recipes from France
Beer jam goes well drizzled over a goats cheese sandwich (instead of honey)
Tarte de Soleil, the easy peasy snack that looks like a star
Courgette cakes/zucchini fritters – the tastiest way to use up courgettes!
The cheesiest gougeres – and oh so moreish