© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2002
A weekly serving of food news and views
explanations from the inside out
It's the texture of the finished product that tells you whether you've spread jam or jelly on your toast. Jam has bits of fruit in it; jelly does not.
The origin of jam and jelly is somewhat of a mystery but food historians suspect that they were first made centuries ago in the Middle East, where sugar cane grew abundantly. Sugar is an integral ingredient in both spreads. (Sugarless jams and jellies have no processed sugar but do contain natural sugars from the fruit.) It is believed that returning Crusaders brought jam and jelly to Europe and from there they made their way to the New World with explorers.
Jelly comes from fruit juice while jam is made with fruit pulp or crushed fruit, which is why it's looser than jelly. Either way, the fruit is cooked with sugar and pectin. Pectin is found in the cell walls of most fruit. When heated with sugar in water, it congeals. Pectin is purchased in powder form.
Most experts agree that preserves are more like jam than jelly. Williams-Sonoma's Kitchen Companion, a thorough equipment and ingredient guide, uses the term preserves to refer to jams, jellies and marmalades. Other reference books, however, specifically say preserves are not jams but rather jelly with bigger fruit pieces.
Marmalade is a fruit spread that contains pieces of fruit rind, usually citrus, and is more bitter than sugary jams and jellies. The original marmalades were made from quince. Now, however, Seville oranges are the most popular fruit for marmalades.
This site is more like an online newspaper food section than any other we've come across. There are lots of articles, cookbook and restaurant reviews, recipes, wine columns and food news. Globalgourmet.com, a product of the rich Southern California food scene, celebrates its seventh year on the Internet this month, which makes it a senior citizen on the here-today, gone-tomorrow Web.
Editor Kate Heyhoe writes knowledgeably about food and we love her what's hot (designer tamales, wonton skins and brined turkey) and what's not (tortilla wraps, designer pizza and deep-fried turkey) list for 2002.
"It's bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children's health than the pediatrician." -- actor Meryl Streep
Here is a quick, easy way to add garlic flavor to sauteed greens, such as spinach or escarole: Spear a peeled clove of garlic onto the tines of a fork. Stir the fork through the greens as they wilt and cook until tender. The greens will be pleasantly garlicky without you having to chop or mince a single clove.
President George W. Bush's unfortunate experience with a pretzel last week will forever link his name with the salty snack. We will now think of him and pretzels the way we do Daddy George Bush and broccoli (hated it), Bill Clinton and Big Macs (loved them) and Ronald Reagan and Jelly Bellies (made them famous). Other presidential food associations that come to mind are George Washington and that lie-detecting cherry tree and Jimmy Carter and peanuts. And what about poor Zachary Taylor? On July 4, 1850, he ate a bowl of cherries and drank a glass of buttermilk. A few days later he was dead.
Wine is a key ingredient in a myriad of dishes, from coq au vin to port poached pears. A wine destined for cooking should be good enough to drink, but priced reasonably enough so you don't feel bad pouring it into a pan. Avoid any product labeled "cooking wine" -- they're awful. A good all-purpose red wine for cooking is fruity pinot noir and for white, a pleasantly acidic sauvignon blanc.
While much of the nation's gardens and fields are dormant, the Florida landscape is dotted with fruits and vegetables ripe and ready to be picked. One of the most abundant crops is tomatoes, which are being harvested now, in Hillsborough County and other locales. The nutrient rich fruit -- yes, it's a fruit -- gets high marks for its role in fighting the diseases of aging such as heart disease and cancer. For a free leaflet stuffed with recipes, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to Healthy Tomato Recipe Leaflet, Florida Tomato Committee, P.O. Box 140635, Orland, FL 32814-0635.
Put Williams-Sonoma's $19 stainless-steel herb mill in the You Don't Need It But It Looks Cool category. Cleaned, fresh herbs are dropped into the mill and small rotary blades mince the parsley, basil or tarragon into itty-bitty pieces. It's nothing that can't be done with a sharp chef's knife and some effort. However, the mill, which you hold in one hand and turn the crank with the other, can mince and sprinkle at the same time, much like a hand-cranked cheese grater.
- Compiled by Janet K. Keeler, from staff and wire reports