[Sca-cooks] Jam

Elise Fleming alysk at ix.netcom.com
Tue Oct 30 05:21:41 PDT 2007

Huette wrote:
>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

Okay... How I interpret the paragraph above is that jam, as we know it
today (mashed/pureed, spreadable fruit) is a later development - a
descendent of conserves and preserves.  Descendents aren't the same thing
as their ancestors.  There are changes.

My picky-ness is because (as I think I mentioned) a person has been making
excellent jams but has been saying that the recipes are medieval.  From
everything written so far, and especially what Huette wrote and what I
found last night (below), the thing we Americans call "jam" (mashed/pureed,
spreadable fruit and sugar) is not "medieval" and appears not to have truly
developed until post SCA period.

C. Anne Wilson, in "The Book of Marmalade" talks about the divergence of
meaning between "marmalade" and "jam" (p. 122) with the British tending
towards using "jam" and the Americans keeping the older form of
"marmalade".  She does write (p.45): "Recipies for the marmalades of
home-grown fruits other than quinces appeared in the preserving books all
through the seventeenth century.  The later ones  show a somewhat softer
conserve, still dense and sticky, but potted, not boxed, made from such
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."   (Alys notes - Her time frame says 17th
century (1600s) and she also specifies "later" recipes.)

So, yes,  semantics is involved because because words describe (or try to!)
what we mean.  I'd really like to be able to help the jam person prove that
the mashed/pureed, spreadable(sometimes with seeds) fruit concoction that
she makes is within SCA period but given Huette's quote and Wilson's quote,
I'm not convinced that "jam" (as Americans describe it) is within period. 

Huette also wrote: 
>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.

But given what Wilson writes (above) a jam derived from a conserve with the
recipes occurring in the later part of the 1600s.  That didn't mean that
someone (as Christianna wrote) made up a recipe that turned out softer and
less solid than the conserves were expected to be.  (And I'm not saying
that the conserves were "solid", just more solid than current jams.)

Doc - You might want to see Wilson's "Book of Marmalade" mentioned above. 
She gives precursors that date to the 1st century AD and includes a 1587
recipe which uses the word "marmalade" in the title.  (It's from peaches.)

Flashback... Are we having a cuskynole-type discussion??

Alys Katharine

Elise Fleming
alysk at ix.netcom.com

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