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Arkansas Beekeepers Association | Little Rock
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Jam as we know it only seems to have emerged in the 19th century. It took a cheap and reliable source of sugar from the West Indies to make jams affordable. Before this, sugar was considered a spice and the price in Europe was such that only the richest could afford it. Preserves made from sugar were too precious to spread thickly on toast. Instead, they were eaten as "spoon sweets" with feasts being capped off with the distribution of delicate silver spoons laden with fruit preserves. You may still be offered such treats with a glass of cooling water in the Middle East and eastern Europe.
The first European sugar preserves made use of that seemingly magical substance, honey. The earliest fruit preserves would be made by mixing fruit pulp with honey and allowing it to dry in the sun, creating a texture more like that of a jellied sweet.
The high-pectin quince lent itself to making this well-set fruit preserve. In Greece, a common spiced preserve of quinces was known as melomeli (apple honey) and was thought to be an aphrodisiac and to aid digestion. In Britain, it was adapted to incorporate other fruits, such as pears, damsons, plums, and finally Seville oranges, becoming marmalade. Eventually, when sugar prices fell late in the 17th century, marmalade became a soft jelly that, smeared on toast, became a staple of the Scottish breakfast.
Jam only reached the masses in the 1880s when it was used to enliven the dark wholemeal bread eaten by the working classes. Many of these factory-produced jams contained more sugar and colour than fruit. The quality of commercial jams have improved greatly since then but they are still the sickly sweet sisters of a good homemade jam. And besides, buying jam gives no way near the satisfaction of making it yourself.
Federal Regulations require commercial processors of shelf stable acidified foods and low-acid canned foods in a hermetically sealed container to be sold in the United States to register each establishment and file scheduled processes with the Food and Drug Administration for each product, product style, container size and type and processing method (21 CFR 108). This website contains instructions for establishment registration and process filing along with other information useful to manufacturers of these types of products.
A low-acid canned food (LACF) is any food (other than alcoholic beverages) with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85, excluding tomatoes and tomato products having a finished equilibrium pH less than 4.7.
An acidified food (AF) is a low-acid food to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added and which has a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below and a water activity (aw) greater than 0.85.
1. U.S. Grade A or U.S. Grade A for Manufacturing is the quality of fruit and preserves (or jams) that have a good consistency; that have a good color; that are practically free from defects; that have a good flavor; and that score not less than 85 points when scored in accordance with the scoring system outlined in this subpart, Provided: that no fruit preserve or jam shall be graded, inspected and/or certified as a manufacturing grade product unless it is suitably designated and/or labeled. Manufacturing grade product shall not be packaged in containers smaller than the equivalent of a number ten (No. 10) metal can (603 x 700).