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Russian Jam: Traditions and History
October 29, 2018 10:20


For Russians, making jam is not just a preparation of a vitamin-rich dessert. This is a special ceremony, kind of kitchen magic. Famous Russian tea drinking tradition with Samovar is not complete without a jam. Russians like to drink black tea with spoons of honey or jam and with pancakes of course. The most popular jams here are those of raspberry, strawberry, black currant, and apples. Russian jam is made by many at home in the summertime and autumn, after harvesting berries and fruits in dacha.
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Where Does it Come From?

It is not known who and when cooked Russian jam first. It seems that it has been made in Russia since time immemorial. Historians tend to believe that boiling jam is a national Russian tradition. There is also a conjecture that the Eastern Slavs adopted the tradition of making jam from the Finno-Ugric tribes. One way or another, but the Russian jam has been there for hundreds of years already.


How Is Russian Jam Different?
It is believed that cooking berry and fruit jams is a Russian tradition; European analogs are confiture (in France) and jam or marmalade (in England). According to Russian tradition, jam is made from whole berries or coarsely chopped fruits, whereas foreign jam and confiture are generally cooked from grated fruit and berries. In Russian jam, the syrup should be thick and semi-transparent, in contrast to European puree-like jams.
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Lasting Tradition

Since sugar was very expensive until the end of the 19thcentury, molasses and honey were widely used to make Russian jam. Anyway, the jam was expensive and so to rich people only. A cheaper old version of Russian jam was cooked without honey: the berries were boiled for 5-6 hours in the traditional Russian stove, but not in the open fire.
In the XIX century in Russia, the skill of cooking jam was highly estimated on a par with the ability to sing, draw, and play the piano. In general, the jam was boiled mainly in noble family estates, and the hostess herself usually managed this important matter. On top of all, every hostess had her own secrets of making perfect Russian jam.
Girls from noble and rich Russian families were taught the art of cooking jam in privileged boarding schools and institutes for noble young ladies. 


Varieties of Russian Jam

Russian Empress Catherine II was a great lover of gooseberry jam. Great poet Alexander Pushkin was also a fan of it. Gooseberry was especially popular in Russia as a whole. As for notorious Ivan IV the Terrible, he was fond of cucumber jam...
Among the fruits that were used for jam, apples were naturally the first thing.
In the garden, every landowner would certainly grow berry bushes - raspberries and blackberries, currants and gooseberries. Harvested berries were mostly used for making jams.
They also liked currants in Russia, especially black ones. They began to be cultivated in Russia much earlier than in Western Europe.


Raspberries are probably the sweetest among berries in this country - not without reason it is mentioned in Russian folk proverbs and sayings as the symbol of everything sweetest and tastiest. 

In addition to its wonderful taste and aroma, raspberry jam has long been valued for helping to fight colds; it has mild antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, indeed.
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Photos from:
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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Cuisine Russian Desserts    

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