In response to many emails (and one nightmare of a conversation we had with our mother), The Fork is proud to have been coerced into following up our groundbreaking work on peanuts and peanut butter with this-here information about jam and jelly. You're welcome.
So first of all, it's important to know that people have been preserving food for a long time. Like, literally millions of years, but that we can really only pinpoint the invention of jams/preserves to sometime before the 11th century BC. After that, the history gets a little hazy, but the best that jam/preserves historians can do is to point to the Middle East as the birth place of such items. So then we cut to the 11th century for real, and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad Western Europeans heard word of an exciting new granular substance called sugar—which, despite being quite expensive, wound up replacing honey as the preferred sweetener for jams/preserves.
So where was jelly? See, it came way later because gelatin (now pectins) hadn't been discovered as a foodstuff yet, and that's a pretty big part of the jelly equation. It wasn't even until 1862 that a French physicist named Dennis "Jelly" Papin invented powdered gelatin, and all the foods that needed a good stiffening got, ummm … stiffened.
Some other notable jelly/jams/preserves history includes:
-The 1853 creation of the cold weather-compliant Concord grape.
-The 1918 founding of Welch's and its subsequent Grapelade product (it was like jelly/jam, OK?)
-The 1970s switch to corn syrup due to rising sugar prices
-The insufferable yet important rise of artisan products that fuel the ultimately better jam/jelly/preserves products of today.
Today, Americans consume millions of pounds of the stuff because, let's face it, it's good on toast and such. But you may be asking what the difference is between jam, jelly and preserves. Well, jelly is more about fruit juice than pieces of fruit, jam is about fruit pieces, but it's smoother than preserves, and preserves is, like, chunks and stuff. Choose accordingly. Marmalade, luckily, is a whole other thing (probably), and as far as we know, only legal to buy in England (*note, this is not a fact, so you can just relax now and learn about jokes). Anyway, there's a National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day in April (we doff our cap to Fork reader Stewart Allsop), but we've already told you all we're prepared to tell.
This has been The Fork, your guide to the world of (sometimes) facts.
We be Jammin'
It's not yet jelly- and jam-making season, but if you're looking forward to the harvesting bounties of fruit to whip up your favorite jam at home, we've got a few tips:
-Most jam recipes have a time guesstimate on them that is totally too short for our altitude, so plan on cooking it longer than their guess. Follow the other traditional tips in looking for the gel point, such as glossiness and viscosity, and ignore the time.
-Wear thick rubber gloves that go up the forearm and long sleeves. Otherwise splashing jam will burn the shit out of you long before it is gelled.
-Get a long-handled wooden spoon for the same reason.
Here's cherry jam and also a nice British accent.
-Thanks for telling us about the new restaurant in town, nobody! Fiesta Oaxaca opened in late January and, we hear, is pretty damn good. Expect food inspired by the cuisine of Southern Mexico.
-We found these VERY IMPORTANT red and green chile jellies from Santa Fe Seasons for you to peruse. Y'know, to go with the theme of our thing? If you get 'em, let us know how you liked them. We love chile, but we feel weird about these as items. Sorry!
-Bummed that you missed out on Santa Fe Restaurant Week? No bother, because the Albuquerque version is happening right the eff now. Find more info here, and remember it's really just a 40-minute drive.
–Arroyo Vino has worked its way into the world of cheese platters—perfect for any event that requires cheese. They've got different options based on the number of people you'd like to serve, and plated fun from $45-$85. We'd also like to point out that Cheesemongers does cheese plates, too. So now, the next time someone asks if you know where to get cheese platters, you can say, "I know two places, actually."
-While it's certainly sad that Albuquerque Business First reports that eateries such as Cinnabon and Zacatecas have closed in our neighbor city, the real craw-sticker as it were is that Albuquerque is losing their iteration of Jambo. Still, it just means more for us or something.
-Celebrated superhuman culture journalist Molly Boyle (from Pasatiempo, easily the second-best arts rag in town) penned a killer piece about mezcal recently. As always, our disclaimer will point out that we prefer SFR, but blah blah blah—read the piece.
-Boxcar, the restaurant in the Railyard that is not, in fact, an actual boxcar, took a look around, realized the service industry folks were working through the weekend, and decided to start offering specials on Mondays and Tuesdays. Not only that, but you don't have to prove you work in foodservice to get at the specials.
Speaking of The Specials…
-You heard of brie-ing? No? OK, well, it's this trend wherein middle-aged women reportedly get into MDMA by eating it wrapped in cheese. We do it, too, only instead of MDMA, we just cram entire wheels of brie into our mouths.
-Meanwhile, Trump's at it again, this time serving a smorgasbord of fast food to North Dakota State football players. Why is this happening? And why don't these student athletes just go, "Naw, I don't need to travel for this"?
-In the world of YouTube is ruining your kids' lives news, a UK researcher found that vloggers (a term we despise) might be influencing how your kids eat. Just another thing to be aware of, even if Momo turned out to be a hoax. Side note? Momo is horrifying, whether or not she is making kids kill people.
-The finalists for the James Beard Awards restaurants and chefs have been announced, and eater.com reports there's a 7 percent increase in people of color therein. Nice! Did you know that Santa Fe's own chef Martin Ríos has been nominated a few times before? We spoke with him in 2017 about that jazz.
-Also, in going-out-is-terrible news, Southern Living wants everyone to know that the pepper shaker in restaurants is next-level germy. Good god. This reminds us of a story about how Edison would interview potential assistants at lunches, and if they peppered or salted their food before tasting it, he wasn't down because it suggested they didn't have an experimental mind. We also know that Edison was a dick. #Tesla4EVER!
-Finally, we join forces with HuffPost in celebrating how some "junk food" items are actually kind of OK for you. We're talkin' popcorn, gummi (with an "I") snacks and a few others. Find 'em here, catch 'em all, lose the guilt.
READER HELP, UMMMM … CORNER!
We get questions from readers now and then about things they're searching for, and some people help, though many others do nothing. Let's hope that by having a special section for it, we get to the bottom of something.
Now then, Fork mega-fan Shannon is on the lookout for the best samosas in town (note, not Samoas, the cookies). "I could really use some recs on where to find a flakey, delicious, chutney-buddy time," Shannon says. So—who knows what to do here? As in, what're your favorites locally? Lay 'em on us (and Shannon) and then we'll all party … separately … in our own homes.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
Number of Letters Received
*The age The Fork will one day be.
Most Helpful Tip of the Week
“I try not to eat things with corn syrup.”
*Oh, word. Thanks for letting us know.
Actually Helpful Tip
No one helped us with anything!
*And we bet you’re just loving that, aren’t you, Shannon!?!?