[Sca-cooks] Jam (was Medieval Questionnaire)

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Oct 29 14:55:15 PDT 2007

On Oct 29, 2007, at 4:18 PM, jenne at fiedlerfamily.net wrote:

>>> Hungarian Plum Preserves/ be it white or brown.  Take the sour
>>> cherries/ and take the stems from it/ set them in a kettle over the
>>> fire or coals/ and let simmer/ until they give from themselves
>>> enough juice.  When it is cold then strain it through a hair cloth/
>>> put them in a tinned fishkettle/ and set on coals/ let simmer/ and
>>> stir up/ that it doesn't burn.  And when it is half cooked/ then
>>> take a little ground cinnamon and cloves in it/ make well sweet with
>>> sugar/ and let simmer together/ until it well thickened/ take away/
>>> and let cool/ so you can lift it/ and keep it in a jar or two.
>> Is there any really strong evidence that it's not a sliceable
>> "lechemete" like the many quince, warden, and other fruit pastes you
>> see all over France and England throughout period? I note that  
>> there's
>> no mention of sugar proportions, and the use of the clause "so you  
>> can
>> lift it".
>> I mean, this could be jam, but given that there don't seem to be a  
>> lot
>> of contemporary jam recipes, and there are a lot of more or less
>> contemporary recipes for fruit pastes, what are the odds?
> It sounds like a marmalade to me, which is *a preserve* meant to be  
> eaten
> with a spoon, and for which there are lots of 16th c. recipes.

It was my understanding that marmalades that aren't basically cotignac/ 
quidony, IOW, quince pastes, are 18th or 19th century for spoonable  
versions. I think Elinor Fettiplace has some recipes for jam-like  
preserves, but she's not really medieval and she calls them preserves,  

> The key here would be 'keep it in a jar,' which is not a term I would
> associate with lechmeates, as they are a) generally meant to be eaten
> quickly,

Unless they're fruit paste.

> and b) would require a somewhat specialized jar (no neck) to be
> stored for slicing.

Unless they're cut up first, rolled in sugar, and kept in a crock.  
Which is known to have been done with fruit pastes. We can't assume  
that "jar", especially in translation, means exactly what we think of  

Like I said, this *might* be a jam, but using logic akin to, "this  
might be jam because we have reason to believe it might be jam because  
it sort of looks like jam, and we know they had jam, here, look,  
here's a recipe for something jamlike", well, it is a little  
inconclusive. When you combine that with the phrases about lifting it  
up, the absence of a specific sugar proportion, and the part about  
making it white or brown, which is typical of fruit paste recipes, I  
can't bring myself to rule out the possibility that it isn't.

> This sort of thing is covered extensively in _Banquetting Stuffe_.

It's on my list, but I haven't got it, yet...


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