suitcase full of jams

Around the world in 18 jams, preserves, and conserves

Published 23rd September 2021
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There’s something quintessentially British about making jam, whether it’s in a scone as part of afternoon tea, filling a comforting autumnal dessert, or spread on a slice of morning toast. But did you know the jam-making process is something that translates around the world, albeit with some slightly quirkier ingredients?

The weird, wonderful, and… the utterly bizarre!

Passports, check; swimming costume, check; jam thermometer and preserving pan, check… Time for take off using our interactive tool!

We’ve put together a virtual adventure that rivals even Phileas Fogg’s hot air balloon hijinks to show off the amazing jams, preserves, and conserves of the world. From the smelliest fruit on the planet to alleged aphrodisiacs and everything in between, there’s something to tantalise every taste bud! 

Once we’ve whetted your appetite, it’s time to get yourself some fresh fruit (maybe some strawberries, an apricot or two, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a durian or some guava!), get yourself a new jam pan, funnel, and set of Kilner jars from our shoppable jam-making kit list, then have a go yourself! Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with your own unique jam to rival the likes of bacon and beer!

Sweet and simple samples from Europe

map of europe with little flags

While not the most bizarre items on this list, there are still some splendid jams with a tasty twist, like France’s Champagne and strawberry preserve - a touch of sophistication as you nibble on freshly baked scones, sip on your bubbly, and take in the serenity of the Champ de Mars.

There’s also a Swedish export that doesn’t spark an explosive release of pent up flat-pack rage; lingonberry jam pairs famously well with many meat dishes, including, of course, Swedish meatballs, thanks to its subtle sweetness and slightly tart flavour that’s similar to its cousin, cranberry.

Then we come to the British offering that, while being so mouth-watering, you’ll be amazed isn’t more common across the land. Bacon jam - yes, actual bacon in a jam - oozes a smoky sweetness that's made by blending fried bacon with maple syrup and onions. While technically it might be a relish, we’re not going to quibble over technicalities when it tastes this good!

Traditional African treats

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Fancy spicing up breakfast on a ‘sauce-y’ weekend? The Ancient Egyptians have got you covered with this aphrodisiac so potent it’s claimed it was banned in some sections of society many centuries ago! While you’d be accustomed to seeing the main ingredient in a relaxing herbal tea, hibiscus jam is also a brilliant way to utilise the flower thanks to its natural tartness, meaning it shares many of the qualities of lingonberry jam.

Head down to the south of the continent and you can try out the exotically named ‘makataan konfyt’. The South African recipe is made using a type of watermelon native to the country’s parched landscape. Much like the common watermelon, it’s packed with water thanks to its long roots. But rather than using the sweet, juicy flesh of the fruit, the hard rind is soaked in chalk water for days before eventually being rinsed and boiled with syrup and ginger for a slightly sweet, spicy flavour.

Exotic Asian Aromas

man smelling a durian

If we said to you, ‘here’s the smelliest fruit on the planet, we think it’s the perfect ingredient for a preserve’, you'd probably run a mile! But in Malaysia, it makes perfect sense to use what some consider a delicacy, the durian, in a jar of jam.

It’s a fruit considered to be so pungent that it’s been banned on Singapore's public transport network and has spawned numerous (hilarious) taste-test videos like the one below. However, as the Marmite of the fruit world, durian seems to staunchly divide people between not wanting to come within several miles of the pulpy flesh, and those who can’t get enough of it’s reportedly sweet, custardy taste.

A short distance away in Singapore, the jam-making process is a little different, but still produces delicious results. A delicacy in south-east Asia, ‘kaya’ (or coconut and egg jam) is made by whisking the ingredients over heat, rather than boiling them down like in many jams. This forms a sweet, creamy spread that’s spread on toast to create a hugely popular breakfast alongside coffee and soft-boiled eggs.

Amazing recipes from the Americas

catus bush

If you've got bacon jam, why wouldn't you have beer jam too? The brilliant US creation can be personalised to include your perfect pint, whether it’s lager, bitter, IPA, or stout. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could try spicing it up with some unique combinations. The only downside, the process of making jam burns off all of the alcohol contents!

Like bacon jam, the delicious blend of sweet and savoury makes it an amazing addition to a meat feast, so you can really impress when you fire up the grill - added bonus, it only requires beer, sugar and pectin!

Heading south across the Rio Grande, when you think Mexico, you might think cactus... although you wouldn't usually think of cactus preserves. Also known as tuna fruit (nope... we don't know why either!), prickly pear cactus jelly comes from the sweet red berries that grow on this hostile plant. Given the scorching sun they grow under, you might be surprised to learn just how sweet and juicy they are, giving the likes of strawberry and raspberry jam a run for their money!

Then last, but by no means least, we have the peculiar ‘goiabada’ from Brazil; it would be better described as a dessert rather than a jam - or even by its alternative name of guava cheese given it's appearance! The thick puree is made from guava fruit and sugar, making it intensely sweet and slightly floral. It’s known to pair especially well with soft cheese - so much so that the combination is known as Romeu e Julieta!

Avoid a sticky situation in the kitchen with our shoppable jam-making kit list

woman in the process of making jam

From Hawaiian pineapple and spicy pepper jam to Polish plum butter, there’s still a whole world of wonderful preserves to explore using our interactive tool. Why not take a look around and see if there’s something there that tickles your fancy?

But if you’ve been inspired to spice up your scones with strawberry and Champagne jam, or want to add some character to your cuisine with a unique beer jam, check out our shoppable kit list. With everything you need to get started, it won’t be long before you’re embarking on your own jam-making adventure!

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