What Makes A Jam A Jam? Surge In Savory Spreads Presents Riddles For Purists

From NPR:

She adds onions, ginger, vinegar, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and salt. And, later, she drops in some calcium water, pectin and sugar for consistency.

Clearly, what she calls “savory blueberry ginger conserve” is not your grandma’s blueberry jam.

“You take a grilled cheese and then you use some nice local sourdough bread, some nice local cheese and then smear a little bit of savory jam or jelly on there as a spread, and it’s a whole different taste experience,” says Savoie, who is a home food preservation expert at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Falmouth.

So-called “savory jams” are experiencing a surge in popularity. Savory jams overtook Sriracha as the fastest-growing condiment for sandwiches and burgers — with bacon jam leading the pack — in 2015, according to Datassentials, a market research company that studies menu trends. Tomato jam — aka classy ketchup — came in second.

Jams made with peppers of all degrees of hotness, flowers and extracts of things like Earl Gray tea and parsley are also growing in popularity.

When it comes to today’s jams, says Marissa McClellan, author of the new cookbook Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, “You have to think beyond toast.”

Savory jams have a lot of things going for them in the current foodie landscape, says jam maker Savoie. Savoie gave the blueberry ginger conserve cooking demonstration at this year’s Kneading Conference in July.

Savory jams allow people to eat local fruits and vegetables year-round and lower the sugar levels found in traditional jams, Savoie says. They also tap into a love affair with foods that marry salt and sugar, says Bret Thorn, senior food editor at Nations Restaurant News in New York City.

The central component of jam is pectin, a natural thickening agent found in many fruits. Traditionally, jam was made by cooking down …

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