Who in the world came up with all these choices and why?

We put them on muffins, biscuits and toast to add sweetest. Big deal? According to my wife, it is a big deal and probably to many of you out there as well.

Here’s what happened. My wife decided to treat her mother to a trip to the Seminole casino in Tampa to play the slot machines. That seems to be a special treat for many retirees that love bingo, too. Everyone arose early to get ready. I thought I would be nice and offered them coffee and toast to get them started on the road.

My mother-in-law said all she wanted was a half cup of coffee. She was saving her appetite to eat at the casino. The chef there is a friend of mine and he always spoils my family when they visit.

My wife, on the other hand, wanted eggs, fresh fruit, a thermos of coffee and gluten-free toast with jelly. I went to the refrigerator and offered her a choice of orange marmalade, strawberry jam or blackberry jam. She immediately answered, “Jelly.” I explained we did not have any jelly, we had jam so what’s the difference? That’s when I got a lecture about the differences between jams and jelly. Welcome to my world.

OK, OK, there is a great deal of difference and sometimes we crave certain tastes together. Jam is made from fresh cut fruit cooked to a pulp with sugar. This creates a thick fruity spread.

Jelly is made from the fresh juice of fruit cooked with sugar. Some manufacturers add pectin to thicken and gel.

Finally, marmalade is similar to jam, but it is made from the bitter Seville oranges from Spain or Portugal. The word marmalade comes from the Portuguese marmelos, an orange paste.

My wife is absolutely correct there are many differences between jams, jellies and marmalade, and their usage. Please don’t tell her I said that. Let’s face it peanut butter and marmalade just doesn’t sound right or taste right; it has to be jelly.

When you need to add flavor for cooking fish or poultry, jams and marmalade will hold up better and give it a fruitier taste, adding the needed acidity to enhance flavor.

The history of these tasty treats date back to 1785 when Napoleon Bonaparte offered a cash reward to anyone who could come up with an idea to preserve food for his troops. A chef named Nicolas Appert experimented, using high temperatures to heat food and then sealing them in a glass, airtight jar. This technique worked and he went on to discover different foods must be processed at different temperatures, depending on the acid in the food.

Louis XIV always ended his feast with jams and marmalades. In the 1800s, a nursery man named John Chapman, later known as Johnny Appleseed, walked the Midwest planting apple orchards so future pioneers would have crops. One of those pioneers was Jerome Smucker, who used the crop to produce apple butter and later gave birth to the Smuckers company we know today.

In 1869, in Concord Mass., Dr. Thomas Welch used the Concord grape to begin his juice company. In 1918, he produce his first jam, called Grapelade. He sold his entire production to the army that shipped it overseas to soldiers in France. When they came home, they wanted more. By 1923, the Welch Concord Grape Jelly Co. was born.

I could share a jelly recipe with you, but that’s no fun. If you want one, e-mail me. Now how about a great fish recipe that uses jam instead. My wife loved it!

Orange Glazed Florida Grouper

Ingredients

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1 small orange peeled seeded, sliced thin

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 teaspoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

3/4 pound grouper, snapper or cod fillets (your choice)

Directions

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Combine marmalade, orange juice, and soy sauce mixing well. Place fillets on a spray- oiled broiler pan and brush fillets with glaze. Place orange slices on top of filet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned and fish flakes or breaks easily. Brush with melted butter and serve.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or magoulc@daytonastate.edu.

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