Tessa Munt’s parliamentary debate last Wednesday about the tradition of jam making and The Jam and Similar Products 2013 Regulations stimulated a media storm. Today I made my views about the science of jam making known on the Alan Titchmarsh Show and these are my key reasons.
I am happy to encourage the use of great British fruit such as the Bramley Apple and to encourage the production of low sugar preserves for dietary reasons, if labelled as such. One year I had more than 300 pounds of Bramleys from one tree and made some excellent traditional preserves with them.
The suggestion that as a result of the new regulations, jam making for export will be easier, is very questionable. Very few other countries use the word Jam to describe fruit preserves.
The 60% was set after scientific research at Bristol University into the keeping qualities of sweet preserves. 60% is generally the amount of sugar required to preserve fruit as jam, jelly or marmalade, create the characteristic gel in the consistency of British preserves. It also provides a balanced flavour between fruit and sweetness and to give it a long shelf life.Fruit preserves made with less sugar are more likely to be syrupy, ferment or grow mould if they don’t include artificial preservatives. Fermenting preserves can explode!! I’ve noticed an increase in spoilt preserves when judging at local and County Shows.
Jam making on a commercial scale can produce “Jams” that have a reasonable shelf life with less sugar. The current regulations are about helping the domestic producer make delicious and safe preserves that have a long shelf life.
Currently, It’s great to see a wide range of safe Jams, Marmalades and Jellies at Farmers’ Markets, in Delis and other small retailers. Will retailers still be willing to stock these products if their safety is no longer regulated?