1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jams and Jellies

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JAMS AND JELLIES. In the article Food Preservation it is pointed out that concentrated sugar solution inhibits the growth of organisms and has, therefore, a preservative action. The preparation of jams and jellies is based upon that fact. All fresh and succulent fruit contains a large percentage of water, amounting to at least four-fifths of the whole, and a comparatively small proportion of sugar, not exceeding as a rule from 10 to 15%. Such fruit is naturally liable to decomposition unless the greater proportion of the water is removed or the percentage of sugar is greatly increased. The jams and jellies of commerce are fruit preserves containing so much added sugar that the total amount of sugar forms about two-thirds of the weight of the articles. All ordinary edible fruit can be and is made into jam. The fruit is sometimes pulped and stoned, sometimes used whole and unbroken; oranges are sliced or shredded. For the preparation of jellies only certain fruit is suitable, namely such as contains a peculiar material which on boiling becomes dissolved and on cooling solidifies with the formation of a gelatinous mass. This material, often called pectin, occurs mainly in comparatively acid fruit, like gooseberries, currants and apples, and is almost absent from strawberries and raspberries. It is chemically a member of the group of carbohydrates, is closely allied with vegetable gums abundantly formed by certain sea-weeds and mosses (agar-agar and Iceland moss), and is probably a mixture of various pentoses. Pentoses are devoid of food-value, but, like animal gelatine, with which they are in no way related, can form vehicles for food material. Some degree of gelatinization is aimed at also in jams; hence to such fruits as have no gelatinizing power an addition of apple or gooseberry juice, or even of Iceland moss or agar-agar, is made. Animal gelatin is very rarely used.

The art of jam and jelly making was formerly domestic, but has become a very large branch of manufacture. For the production of a thoroughly satisfactory conserve the boiling-down must be carried out very rapidly, so that the natural colour of the fruit shall be little affected. Considerable experience is required to stop at the right point; too short boiling leaves an excess of water, leading to fermentation, while over-concentration promotes crystallization of the sugar. The manufactured product is on that account, as a rule, more uniform and bright than the domestic article. The finish of the boiling is mostly judged by rule of thumb, but in some scientifically conducted factories careful thermometric observation is employed. Formerly jams and jellies consisted of nothing but fruit and sugar; now starch-glucose is frequently used by manufacturers as an ingredient. This permits of the production of a slightly more aqueous and gelatinous product, alleged also to be devoid of crystallizing power, as compared with the home-made article. The addition of starch-glucose is not held to be an adulteration. Aniline colours are very frequently used by manufacturers to enhance the colour, and the effect of an excess of water is sought to be counteracted by the addition of some salicylic acid or other preservative. There has long been, and still exists to some extent, a popular prejudice in favour of sugar obtained from the sugar-cane as compared with that of the sugar-beet. This prejudice is absolutely baseless, and enormous quantities of beet-sugar are used in the boiling of jam. Adulteration in the gross sense, such as a substantial addition of coarse pulp, like that of turnips or mangolds,very rarely occurs; but the pulp of apple and other cheap fruit is often admixed without notice to the purchaser. The use of colouring matters and preservatives is discussed at length in the article Adulteration. (O. H.*)