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The Cauldron of Tradition

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

The copper cauldron for making and cooking jam and conserves is very much part of the French gastronomic tradition. Copper in the French kitchen can be found and used in many ways; pots, pans, ladles, spoons and of course the immense copper cauldrons used to make jam.

For artisan jam making nothing else will do. The cooking of jam in a copper vat creates an incomparable taste with a tradition of cooks who know the proper application and have great appreciation for the cookware. Those who are trained to cook jam in copper talk about "getting more in tune" with your jam saying that you can really detect the difference in the jam itself.

So what makes the copper cauldron such an ideal and essential vessel for cooking jam. What makes it so special? Most would say it has to do with both art and science.

  • Copper conducts heat differently. It has one of the best thermal conductivities which means that a copper cauldron rises quickly in heat to ensure even cooking without burning.

  • The excellent redistribution of the temperature gently cooks the fruit without boiling away its flavor, texture and color.

  • The shallow, sloping sides of the cauldron let the moisture evaporate upward, instead of running back into the mixture and diluting the fruit.

Of course the French are not the only ones who have mastered the art of the cauldron. The

practice of making jams is thought to have begun in the Middle East, although historians can’t pinpoint exact date, with recipes for fruit preserves found in the cookbooks of the Roman merchant Apicus who published De Re Coquinaria (“The Art of Cooking”) in the late fourth or early in the fifth century. Cauldrons have largely fallen out of use in modern times as cooking vessels although traditional cooking methods in many Eastern European cultures (Hungarians, Slovakians, Romanians) still use cauldrons for jam making as well as other food preparations. Italians are well known for cooking polenta and making cheese when partially skimmed milk is added to a copper cauldron where it is mixed with the whole milk form the morning milking and warmed.

If you are interested in learning more about copper cookware Epicurious has a guide that tells you exactly what you need to know before you buy copper cookware.

Our asset: For an authentic artisanal French conserve/jam from Les Confitures à l'Ancienne, slowly simmered in copper caludrons made from the dark, crimson Morello cherries click here. They are preserved at their best.100% natural with no artificial coloring agents, flavorings, or preservatives, the next best thing to the luscious fruit itself!

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