Jam is sticky and not just from its sugar content.
Jam is sticky with culture, mainly in the United Kingdom. Raspberry jam carries as much pride as it does pips. In certain circles, you are as good as the shade of your strawberry jam or the set of your damson preserve and much can be told about a person by their preference for the cut size of the Seville orange rinds in the Seville orange marmalade.
The stickiness of jam builds when it plays a leading role in culinary occasions such as a “cream tea” or its elegant cousin, the “strawberry cream tea”. Such events are most often used to raise funds for worthy causes during which people gather and consume black tea (with milk and most likely sugar), dark coffee, white scones, clotted cream and home-made strawberry jam. The simplicity of the elements combined with repetition and maybe a hint of competition are enough layers to move “cream tea” into something of an art, strawberry jam in tow.
Jam is sticky with time. It speaks of a periods of ripeness and glut and of those backroom days when preserving was a necessity, not an experience-marketing activity or an instagram-filler. It is a heady mix of homestead foraged-berries-in-a-copper-tin and childhood Chivers-jam-on-hot-toast nostalgia contending with bargain-bin banality and creeping anonymity as nutritional advice swings away from sugar in most forms, undercutting its use-value (preservation) and offering almond butter or dairy-free pesto instead. A jam, boiled, jarred and kept sterile through the chemical wonder of sucrose, can long outlast its maker. It perseveres, carrying whispers of past harvests and forgotten hands in the back of cupboards until found. Its ultimate role is to be consumed by eaters who might listen hard enough for the whispers of its making but who also might not.
Jam is fruit suspended, captured in a moment of flourishing and held like precious jewels until the seal is broken. Air is allowed to rush back in and the clock can begin again its forward crawl, leading either to consumption or colonisation (of the bacterial kind). Jewels twinkle on scone slices or on a spoon, straight from the jar.
Jam is sticky with dietary guilt, home-making guilt and ideas of what women get/got up to in kitchens. It is patriotic, showcasing wifey worthiness while fuelling industry at breakfast and multiple tea times. Pips stick in your teeth, jam sticks to everything else.
I’ve never made a jam. I prefer honey.