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It’s time to celebrate some berry tasty preserves! It’s Jam (and chutney) week at Big Barn.

While the summer may be disappearing and the days already starting to feel shorter, it’s not the end of the British bounty just yet! September is the perfect time for those of you lucky enough to have access to an orchard, whether your own or community owned, because it’s the start of jam and chutney season! Let’s face it there’s probably not one of those near you, but for the rest of us we can try foraging blackberries or buy some local fruit & veg to preserve instead.

It’s no real wonder that it’s becoming more popular for people to make jams and chutneys with all the wonderful fruit and veg we have at our disposal, that and they can be quite cost-effective Christmas gifts too!

Traditionally Chutneys are paired with cheese but can be a basic for any kitchen. There is an amazing array of easy to prepare concoctions that are being used as a base for all sorts of recipes. Roast lamb, for example, can be brought to life with a dash of an exotic tomato and chilli chutney to inject some warmth into your roasts as the temperature continues to call down.

Fiery chutney/relish

Fiery chutney/relish

There are a few skills (normally available in most good cookbooks or online) which you need to learn, but with a little bit of reading you’ll be jarring up your preserved delights in no time and filling up your cupboards too.

Now it’s time for those jammy facts
1. The origin of jam remains a matter of historical debate; however, jams have a rich history and are appreciated worldwide for their fragrance and fruity taste.

2. Jam-making probably began in the Middle-East where cane sugar grew naturally. The first known book of recipes, “Of Culinary Matters”, written by the Roman gastronome Marcus Gavius Apicius in the first century, includes recipes for jams.

3. It is believed that returning Crusaders first introduced jam to Europe; by the late Middle Ages, jam had become very popular. Jam-making in Europe can be traced back to the 16th century following the arrival of the Spanish in the West Indies who had been preserving fruits for generations.

4. Jams were a kingly delicacy and many a royal sweet tooth demanded an array of fruit flavours preserved with sugar. Chroniclers of more regal eras describe the magnificent feasts of Louis XIV, which always ended with fruit preserves served in silver dishes. Each delicacy served at Versailles was made with fruit from the king’s own gardens and glasshouses.

Real fresh ripe jamming strawberries

Real fresh ripe jamming strawberries

5. In Britain, jam originates from tudor times. The food historian Ann Wilson records that there was a wide range of jams available; for example, quince and medlar. There was also a highly prized Tudor preserve called a sucket, a cross between candied peel and jam.

This week we’re also going to treat you to a jam-themed joke, so here goes:

I recently learned how to store jam properly.
I must say, it was a rather jarring event.

If you’d still prefer to buy a wonderful jam or chutney from one of Britain’s brilliant producers then head on over to our MarketPlace here to find a whole host of brilliant products that you can buy online. Or for a local supplier search our local food map

For recipes click here, or if you have a favourite jam or chutney recipe, or any other recipe and would like the chance to win a prize, please video your recipe and add it to KIS (Keep it Simple) Cookery. Please have a look at existing videos here and try and keep your video less than 2 minutes long.

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