Jam, jelly and conserves

All what you wanted to know about fruit preserves

"The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today." Lewis Carroll The world's first known book of recipes, written by the famous 1st century AD Roman epicure, Marcus Gavius Apicius, includes a recipe for quince jam. The earliest recipes for jam included honey. Centuries later, cane sugar provided the gel-forming and preserving medium. Jam, jelly, butters and conserves are all fruit preserves. All contain the four essential ingredients of a jellied fruit product - fruit, pectin, acid and sugar. They differ, depending upon fruit used, proportion of ingredients, method of preparation, and density of the fruit pulp. Jelly, made from fruit juice, is clear and firm and just about holds its shape when removed from the container. Jam, made from crushed or ground fruit, is less firm than jelly, but still holds its shape.Marmalade is soft fruit jelly containing small pieces of fruit or peel evenly suspended in the transparent jelly. Incidentally, the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, created marmalade in 1561: he mixed orange and crushed sugar to cure her seasickness. Some historians like to imagine marmalade derives from Marie est malade (Mary is sick), but the Portuguese word for quince, marmelo, is a more likely root.Bread and jam are two parts of a readymade breakfast for time-pressed folks. But in medieval France, jams and marmalades were royal delicacies partaken in silver bowls at the end of an elaborate meal. Boil fruit with sugar and you get jam, as simple as that. The trick is getting the proportions right, and how soon the jam sets depends on the acid and pectin content of the fruit. Sugar helps form gel, serves as a preserving agent, and as a sweetener. It also firms up the fruit. One can make jams and jellies without adding sugar, but the product resembles gelatine rather than traditional jam or jelly.


About 100 gm of jam or jelly contains approximately 280 calories. The fruit preserves are low in non-calorie nutrients and vitamins. Jam is a popular breakfast item, but it should not be. Its convenience and sweetness makes it popular for busy folk, but too often it replaces nutritious foods. Its sugar content is no friend to dentition either. RAJIV. M

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