Where Did Strawberry Jam Come From?

For millions of people, toast just isn’t toast without a good smear of strawberry jam. Strawberry jam evokes ideas of a sweet childhood, comforting breakfasts and country mornings. Seldom do ideas of ancient sugar cane plantations and the explorers of the middle ages spring to mind at the thought of this berry spread. However, that is exactly where strawberry jam came from.

It is widely believed that all jams and jellies began where sugar cane grew wildly. For the developed ancient world, the countries in the Middle East were the only places to find sugar cane. Even though it is certain that sugar cane was also growing in what is now Latin America, the Middle East was the most developed of all ancient peoples and thus harnessed the full powers of this crop. The European explorers and Christian crusaders venturing into the Middle East brought jams and jellies back to their homes and it was instantly popular.

It wasn’t until the late 16th century that the southern European countries such as Spain and Italy discovered how to preserve fruit. Since fruit was such a delicacy at this time, the ability to savor such sweet tastes during the cold winter months caused quite a stir.

While there were many advancements in preserving fruit so that it would not rot or, the flavor of the fruit was not retained. Many experiments and techniques were toyed with in the attempt to retain the sweet taste of fruit.

In the late 16th century, the Spaniards invaded the West Indies and thus discovered the answer to their experiments. The natives of the West Indies had perfected the art of preserving fruit and taste by mixing sugar with the fruit preserve.

Strawberry and grape jam or jelly are the two most popular flavors in America today. To know the history of strawberry jam, one must first know the history of grape jelly.

In 1917, Paul Welch patented his creation of what is now known as grape jelly. When he invented this food item, he gave it the name, “Grapelade.” This became an instant hit around the U.S. and was soon used as a staple food item for the soldiers of World War I. The troops loved it so much that they were constantly in demand of the flavorful product.

When the war ended and the troops came home, sales in Grapelade skyrocketed. Soon, strawberry jam was developed in the same way as grape jelly and was also a total hit. Today, there are many flavors of jams and jellies but these two flavors continue to be the most popular.

• 3 cups white sugar
• 2lbs strawberries
• 4 tbsp lemon juice

1. Crush strawberries in a large mixing bowl
2. Using a medium sauce pan, mix the crushed berries, sugar and lemon juice together
3. Place on low heat and continually stir until sugar is completely dissolved
4. Bring concoction to a full boil and immediately turn off heat
5. Pour jelly into jelly jars and allow to cool in the jars.

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