Let’s face it – everybody likes jam. You like jam, I like jam, we all like jam. On toast, in a sandwich or on a scone, jam is, well, jamtastic. So more than ever we need people to make jam – in fact we need people to quit their job to make jam. So if you’re thinking that you could be a full-time fruit preserve construction engineer but are not sure if you should then here are a few facts and figures loosely (sometimes very loosely!) related to jam that just might help you to make your mind up :-
Jam was probably first produced in The Middle East where cane sugar grew naturally. The splendidly-named Marcus Gavius Apicius included recipies for ‘fruit preserves’ in the first known cookbook ‘Of Culinary Matters’ in the First Century AD. By the Middle Ages jam had become popular in Europe after being bought back from The Crusades, and was being produced by the 16th Century when the Spanish saw fruit being preserved in The West Indies.
On August 14th 2010 a traffic jam began to form on the China National Highway 110 and the Beijing-Tibet Expressway. It lasted for 10 days and at it’s height stretched for over 100 Kilometres. Ironically it is thought that it’s initial cause was road maintainance trucks heading to Beijing. Enterprising locals sold bottles of water to people stuck in the jam for 10 yuan instead of 1 yuan, and instant noodles for more than three times the usual price.
Jam was first produced in Britain in Tudor times, with a wide range available including less-obvious fruits like quince and medlar. When it was discovered that vitamin C was good for you it also became widespread aboard ships as it wouldn’t go off as quickly as raw fruit.
Back in mid-’60s Britain Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band were one of the hardest-working and most popular live acts in the country. They were named after The Ram Jam Inn (an old coaching inn on the A1 where the band would often stop when travelling to and from gigs) and their 1966 live album ‘Hand Clappin’, Foot Stompin’, Funky-Butt – Live!’ was the third biggest selling LP of that year, being only outsold by ‘The Sound Of Music’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Geno still tours with a newer version of The Ram Jam Band today.
Scientists in the 1920s at The University of Bristol formulated what has become known in jam making circles as ‘the 60% rule’. They claimed that the characteristic texture of jam occurs when the sugar combines with the pectin that gets released from the fruit as it boils; the mixture then thickens as it cools down. The large amount of sugar also acts as a preservative.
The New York jazz club Minton’s Playhouse became known for it’s after hours jam sessions in the 1940s. These impromptu gatherings featured musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Thelonious Monk (isn’t it funny how the coolest jazzmen always have such great names?) and became crucial to the development of the emerging be-bop movement. Jamming also found it’s way into the rock music of the 1960s, with ‘Sister Ray’ by The Velvet Underground, ‘Voodoo Chile’ by Jimi Hendrix and ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ by Pink Floyd all featuring long improvised instrumental sections, and bands like The Grateful Dead, The Black Crowes and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have all featured jam sessions during their live shows.
Jammie Dodgers were named after the Beano comic character Roger The Dodger. Made from shortbread with a raspberry jam filling, they were the U.K.’s most popular children’s biscuit in 2009, although it’s thought that around 40% of them were actually eaten by the grown-ups.
The Jam were formed in Woking, Surrey in 1972. With Paul Weller writing most of their songs they became one of the most successful bands of the punk rock / new wave era although some people at the time found them to be too retrospective. They split up in 1982 at the height of their fame, and despite many rumours of a reformation Weller has said that it will ‘never ever happen’. Shame – they were really good you know…
Well if all this hasn’t convinced you to quit your job and make jam then maybe this very cool retro-styled t-shirt will do the trick :-