Jam-making has a rich history that Wilson seemingly stumbled to in an effort to care for her five children. But, she dug really deep into the history and the nuances of jam-making as she became better and better. “It started as an accident, but I eventually learned a few tricks.”
Jam-making is often referred to as “jamming.” It is a Southern style that has resonated in the Deep South for decades. Farmers would have additional preserves that would not be good enough to be sold as a whole fruit. There were a few approaches farmers took with the extra fruit. Firstly, they sold it to markets directly in mashed form. The fruit could be used as a spread.
Markets were not always readily accessible, especially when the fruit being sold would get bad quite quickly. The fruit would not last as long mashed up compared to when it was in a whole form, so farmers would have to utilize it quickly. Before markets were widely accessible in the rural South, the farmers would stock the extra fruit. They would mash it up, add sugar, and turn it into a spread.jam was rarely used next to peanut butter. It was primarily used as a spread on top of toast. It fed the farming children, who were notorious for eating multiple sandwiches a day- two spreads of jam on two slices of bread, smushed together.
Eventually, jamming became an art form unto itself. Farmers would compete for the best jams. Jam Circles became very famous throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Visitors would gather together their best concoctions and the winner would get all the jam brought to the entire event. The rules were never changed in the years following, and it became a tradition. Consequently, a few farmers after every yearly event would fail spectacularly after losing all their jam, losing respect, and having to reinvent their farming strategy away from fruit and into other areas.
Interestingly, Wilson missed out on all of this. Jamming was unknown in the UK, and jam recipes were largely traded in the deep South of the United States decades prior to the Internet. This is why Wilson feels as if she has come home after relocating to the states. She has returned to the origin of jam. She even attends Jam Circles to this day. Wilson joked, “if I would have been around back then, I would have taken all their money by building a casino and won all their jam. It would be paradise.”