[Sca-cooks] Wilson on 'Jams'

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Tue Oct 30 04:51:02 PDT 2007

Echoing what Huette and Alys wrote, here's some more
on the emergence of jams in English cookery: This may help in our 

On the topic of jam, C. Anne Wilson in the revised edition of The Book 
of Marmalade (1999) writes:

“The British themselves have not always had their soft-fruit jams. The 
word ‘jam’ began to creep into manuscript cookery-books in the last 
quarter of the seventeenth century, and into the printed ones early in 
the eighteenth. It had entered the English language only about a hundred 
years before; and perhaps it had a middle eastern origin, for there is 
an Arab word ‘jam’ which means ‘close-packed’ or ‘all together’. From 
its more general usuage in English for things that were jammed against 
one another, the word passed into the realm of confectionery, to denote 
those preserves where soft fruits cooked with sugar were crushed 
together, rather than sieved, and could thus be described as ‘jammed’, 
or ‘in a jam’. pp. 16-17

“Recipes for the marmalades of home-grown fruits other than quinces 
appeared in the preserving books all through the seventeenth century. 
The latter ones show a somewhat softer conserve, still dense and sticky, 
but potted, not boxed, made from such fruit fruits as raspberries, 
mulberries, cherries, white or red currants, gooseberries, apricots or 
damsons, and it was for this type of conserve that the name ’jam’ was 
coined. P.45

The revised edition of The Book of Marmalade is still in print. The 
Florilegium carries a number of endorsements
regarding the book.


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