[Sca-cooks] Jam was Medieval Questionnaire

Huette von Ahrens ahrenshav at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 29 17:43:14 PDT 2007

I think that we are getting stuck on semantics and not the actual item here.

Yes, the word "jam" doesn't appear in the English language until 1730.  However,
"preserves" appears in 1600 and "conserves" appears in 1555.  The Penguin Companion
to Food says, 'The words "preserve" and "conserve" are also used more specifically
to indicate an (often expensive or unusual) jam.  Although this is generally regarded
as pretentious today, both words were used this way at least a century before the word
"jam" became common.'

And looking up "jam" in the same work, it does indicate that jam as such was the decendent
of "all the rather solid fruit and sugar conserves, preserves and marmalades of the 17th
and 18th centuries."  It later states "The development which took jam from a solid confection
to a soft, spreadable paste was the increased understanding of hygiene, such as the necessity
for clean processing and for sealing the jars, that developed in the 19th century."

What I am saying is that if we make jam, we may not call it jam in period, but we can call
the same product a conserve and still be accurate.  In other words, a jam by any other name
is a conserve.


--- Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Johnna wrote (with some snippage):
> > That might be a problem of how it is defined as it all
> >
> > becomes somewhat more complicated as the one British dictionary I just 
> > looked at states—
> >
> > *jam"*
> > A conserve of fruit boiled to a pulp with sugar; sets to a pectin jelly 
> > on cooling. (Known in the USA as jelly.)
> >
> > So here we have a Dictionary of Food and Nutrition equating the two as 
> > the same in the USA.
> > And another book The Oxford Dictionary of American Usuage and Style says
> >
> > jam=
> > (= [1] a fruit jelly
> Yes, I was thinking that there was a problem of definition.  Seems to me I
> read - or saw on one the lists - that the word "jam" didn't enter the
> dictionary until the 1700s?  Or was it the late 1600s?  Didn't we have this
> conversation a few years ago on the Cooks' List?  To me, jelly and jam are
> NOT the same thing, but that's an American talking.  I learned recently
> from my English friends that "jelly" is "jello" or "gelatin".  They were
> confused about what I put on my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
> Part of my questioning has to do with a frustrating correspondence with a
> SCAdian friend who has tried to write about "medieval jellies" and then
> proceeds to make "jam".  Jellies, in the English medieval and
> Tudor/Elizabethan times, was (I believe!) a clear substance.  Jam is not
> clear.  My SCAdian friend makes lovely jams - a seed-filled or pulverized
> pulp-filled, sweet, semi-solid spread - but they aren't medieval, I
> contend.  The fruit pastes aren't jams.  They are too solid and jam isn't. 
> I'm not sure that all of us will agree on what constitutes a jam, though. 
> On that Dutch web site, the modern Dutch name for the period item appears
> to include "jam", but I don't think the period name did.  Aaack!
> So, I'm still not really convinced that what we in America call "jam"
> actually existed pre-1600.  
> Alys Katharine
> Elise Fleming
> alysk at ix.netcom.com
> http://home.netcom.com/~alysk
> > _______________________________________________
> Sca-cooks mailing list
> Sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
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My thoughts are whirled like a potter's wheel;   King Henry VI, part I: I, v 

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