Sunday, 3 November 2013

In a jam

I really didn't pay much attention to an announcement made this week by Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that the minimum sugar content of jam is to be reduced from 60% to 50%.  I most assuredly did not expect the announcement to cause such a furore, with MPs demanding a debate and letters being sent to the papers from people such as Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

Actually, I have never to my knowledge seen a letter purporting to be from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.  That pseudonym is a complete fabrication indicating that Colonel Blimp-like reactionary people inhabit the genteel spa town in Kent.  In fact, Tunbridge Wells is - or was, I haven't been there for donkeys' years - a rather pleasant town.

But to get back to the jam.

By the way, it was reported earlier this year that the Queen is rather partial to the strawberry jam made by the Duchess of Cambridge.  Not that the fact has any bearing on what I am supposed to be burbling about, but at least it's about jam.

As I said, the minimum sugar content is to be reduced from 60% to 50%.  One Honourable Member (as MPs call each other) declared that because of this, British jam could become no better than coloured mud.  Apparently, the change is to bring this country into line with other European countries and thereby make it easier for British manufacturers to export their jam.

Since all the jam eaten in this house is made by herself, the change will have absolutely no effect on me or my standard of living.  It will not cause the demise of the British breakfast (another of the fatuous claims made this week) in this house as we don't eat toast and marmalade.  Indeed, I really do not understand (a) why the change in sugar content is being decreed, and (b) why people are getting in such a fuss about it.

It seems to me that if British manufacturers feel that it would be an advantage to produce jam at the lower sugar content and do so for export only, that would solve the problem.  In any case, the change simply reduces the minimum permissible sugar content.  That does not mean that manufacturers will be obliged to reduce the sugar content in their jam.  Should they do so, and the reduction mean that people buy other makes in which the sugar content has not been reduced, then market forces will dictate the reactions of the manufacturers.

And it struck me that I had always believed jam is made with equal amounts of fruit and sugar, ie a 50% sugar content.  Now I do not claim any prowess in the cuisinery department, haute or otherwise; I am quite possibly the only person living who could burn a boiled egg.  But, i also understood that it was pectin, not sugar, that caused jam to set.  So why are people claiming that we will be sold gloop?  I checked my facts with the fount of all knowledge.  No, not Wikiwotsit.  The Old Bat.  At least she knows about cooking.  She told me that for many years she has made jam with less than 50% sugar content.  Less than!  And her jam is not mud-coloured sludge, nor is it a gloopy mess, it tastes fine, and it keeps well enough.

What is the problem, other than the Nanny State dictating to us the proportions of the ingredients in jam?  That I could do without.


This being the first Sunday in November, we will be treated to a fine display of "old crocks" being driven from London to Brighton today.

The first Sunday in November each year sees the re-enactment of the Emancipation Run from London to Brighton which celebrated the passing into law of the "Locomotives on the Highway Act".  This raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4 miles per hour to 14 mph, although this was reduced to 12 mph before the act come into force. The act abolished the requirement for the car to be preceded by a man on foot.

The Brighton Run has been reported to be the longest running car event in the world and ranks as one of Britain's biggest motoring spectacles. It attracts entrants from around the world, all eager to take part. The event is not a race. The cars are limited to an average speed of 20 mph and the only reward for a successful run is a Bronze Medal (awarded to all who reach Brighton before 16.30).  Only cars built before 1 January 1905 are eligible to take part.

Here's one of the cars due to start.  It's a Peugeot from 1898 with 2 cylinders producing 6 horsepower.

Not my pic.

1 comment:

Informal Sports said...

Okay article. I just became aware of your blog and desired to say I have really enjoyed reading your opinions. Any way I'll be subscribing in your feed and Lets hope you post again soon.

Cccam Server