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This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of making jams and preserves. We look at the history behind jam as well as the essential supplies you need to get started, methods, and more!
Jam has a very extensive history which in fact dates back from the 1st century AD. The first jam recipe is known to appear in the cookbook ‘De Re Coquinaria’ (The Art of Cooking). Back in the Palaeolithic period, survival was key. When food was scarce, preserving was the way to go for a quick hunger fix without having to go on the hunt for fresh food. The Romans certainly had a sweet tooth; they would typically conserve fruits and flowers in honey.
A firm favourite for both sailors and pirates, it became apparent that fruit jams contained vitamin C which helped to prevent scurvy. However, in the land of luxury, Louis XIV of France (‘Louis the Great’) demanded that the final course of every meal be followed with a selection of jams served in the finest silver dishes. This king was so passionate about jam that he even bought extravagant jam made from the fruits grown in the garden of Versailles. There must have been tropical flavours, including pineapple!
During World War II, the Women’s Institute came to the rescue when there was a lot of worry about the lack of food and rationing. In 1940, a grant from the government gave them £1,400 to buy sugar especially for jam. The Women’s Institute in turn were able to produce 1631 tons of preserves.
Today, jam and preserve making is a popular hobby, enjoyed by those who like to grow their own fruits or simply enjoy jam. Even physician, Marie Curie, experimented with jam making in her spare time!