Jam: a potted historyLeave a Comment
Jam: a potted history
Ah, jam. The sweet, spreadable treat whose sugary delight is dotted throughout our childhood memories. This wholesome confiture makes us think of cooking with grandparents, picking fresh ingredients from the hedges, and homemade gifts from neighbours. Whether oozing from a freshly baked doughnut, spread on hot, buttery toast or dolloped on grandma’s delicious homemade scones, we all have that warm, fuzzy memory of old that involves jam. As humans, we’ve loved jam for longer than you may think, though; here’s a potted history of our favourite potted preserve.
Jam with stones in
Can you believe that the earliest known jam came from the Stone Age. Yes, 2.6 million years ago, we were making jam! Not quite the recipes we use at our Jam Shed at Farmers Food at Home, but a more rudimentary version that probably involved honey. Around this time, the Ancient Greeks discovered how to create syrups by encasing fruit in honey, preserving the fruit due to the lack of moisture. A very early version of our favourite treat was born!
When in Rome
We think of Rome as the gastronomic home of carbonara and great wine, but the potted history of jam shows that it was the first place in the world where a jam recipe was created. Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote it in a 500-page recipe book called ‘De Re Coquinaria’, or ‘How to Cook’, as far back as the 4th-century AD in the Italian capital. Much like the Greeks before him, it showed how to gently heat soft fruit in honey. Unlike our modern-day usage, the Romans used to consume their version of jam as a highly luxurious desert after their meat-filled main course.
Traditional English jam
Sugar reached mainland Britain from the Middle East in 1099 via the Crusaders. It was first described as a ‘new spice’ which was admired for its rejuvenating qualities…the English were having a sugar rush! It only became available for the public to buy in 1319, though, and was such a rare ingredient that it cost a whopping £36 a pound in today’s money!
It’s my jam
The potted history of jam is dotted with famous admirers, some of whom loved jam so much it became their downfall! Some famous jam addicts include:
- Joan of Arc was said to consume large quantities of quince jam before going into battle.
- French astrologer Nostradamus thought that cherry jam could attract love.
- Mary, Queen of Scots, was the first person to eat marmalade. It was made for her by her physician as a remedy for seasickness by crushing oranges into sugar.
- Louis XIV of France used to like to show off his enormous wealth by displaying jam with silver spoons at the end of every meal. Sugar wasn’t cheap, so it was a way of bragging about his money and plentiful fruit garden at the palace of Versaille.
- Napoleon Bonaparte, a noted jam fan, tasked inventor Nicholas Appert to find a way of preserving food for the French military. He quickly became the ‘father of canning’, and now jam and other foods could be stored for long periods of time.
- Other jam enthusiasts include Henry VIII who liked jam on his pudding, Queen Elizabeth II who has strawberry cream tea every day, actor Rachel McAdams, footballer Harry Redknapp, and model Kate Moss.
If, like others ins our potted history of jam, you’re also a fan of the sweet, spreadable stuff, check out the tasty range of products in our shop and get yourself some delicious seasonal jam made fresh in our kitchen!