Perfect raw materials are needed to make really good jam. All Äkta Sylt raw materials are examined, fruit by fruit, berry by berry, by the jam makers themselves. The end result depends on the raw material having the right level of ripeness; fruits often need to be precisely ripe to contain enough natural pectin.

 

Each jam maker decides which raw materials to use. Some only use fruit grown very close to them; others buy in raw materials grown locally and yet others make use of all the berries and fruits of the world. It is desirable to use fruits grown organically, certified by the KRAV organic organisation, or produced locally, but is not always possible. All jam makers forge their own path depending on the supply of raw materials and the products they want to create.

 

 

In jam sugar acts as a preserving agent and flavour enhancer. Normally no microorganisms can survive in jams with a sugar content exceeding 65%, but sugar levels vary and may be considerably less.

 

In general a higher sugar content means longer keeping qualities, although once opened, all jams should be stored in the fridge, regardless of sugar content. Jam will keep considerably longer before being opened, and can often be stored several years without needing refrigeration.

 

The sugar content of jam is always a balancing act between keeping qualities, taste and consistency. The sugar interacts with pectin to arrive at the right consistency. If a higher sugar content is needed it may be compensated for by the acid in citrus fruits, apples or currants. Since preserving agents and industrial pectin are not used in Äkta Sylt the sugar content determines both consistency and keeping qualities.

 

Granulated sugar is mostly used in jam making, as it leaves a clean taste. Other types of sugar can provide interesting flavourings, such as unrefined cane sugar, cassonade, and muscovado sugar.

 

Real jam craftspersons don't use special preserving sugar, since this contains industrial pectin, citric acid and calium sorbate. None of these are used in Äkta Sylt.
 

The secret of jams and marmalade is pectin, which exists in the cell-walls of fruit and berries. When boiled the pectin is freed and the jam will gel. The acid in the fruit has to be sufficiently high for this to work. Hence the best jellies are made from currants, gooseberries and citrus. Unripe fruit makes better jelly than over ripe fruit.

 

If the jam cooks too long and gets too hot the jam will be rubbery. Shorter cooking time and the right temperature lead to jams with the best consistency.

 

If there is not enough pectin present, juice or jellies made of apples, currants or gooseberries may be added to gel the jam. This is particularly so for berries and fruit with lower levels of natural pectin, such as strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, tomatoes, figs, melons and peaches.

 

Äkta Sylt only uses natural pectin made principally from apples, gooseberries and redcurrants.

 

 

The Swedish word for jam, "sylt", comes from "salt". In the earliest times salt was used to preserve food, and sugar was very exclusive. Honey has a much longer history; Egyptian art shows that honey has been used for thousands of years, and man learnt the art of bee-keeping a very long time ago.

 

The first sugar was extracted from sugar cane, and there is evidence that people were extracting sugar using this method as early as a few hundred years BC. By boiling the water away sugar was obtained as a firm “loaf.” The sugar cane plantations spread all over the world, including the Mediterranean area; from the Iberian peninsula the plantations next spread to the West Indies.

 

The first evidence that sugar was used in Sweden goes back to the early 1300s. Sugar remained a luxury until the mid-19th century. At that time sugar consumption was approximately four kilos per person per annum. Sugar became part of the daily diet when a plant that suited northern climates was discovered, the sugar beet. The first Swedish sugar refinery opened in Malmö in 1837.

 

Venice was the largest port in Europe for sugar imports. Crafts using sugar were first established in Italy and later in France. In the 19th century several important books were published about the use of sugar, but it took until the late 1800s before the first books appeared in Swedish about jams, syrups and fruit preserves.

 

 
   
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