A History of Jugs

The Origins of Jugs

Jugs have been in use since the days of the Anglo-Saxons jugs have changed little in form over the centuries. Despite being in existence for a long time, the word jug did not become part of the English language until the 15th century. The Anglo-Saxons used jugs made of clay but they were hand shaped rather than being created on a wheel, which is the traditional method today. Rather than clay, the Vikings used jugs which were made of leather.

In Roman times jugs made of glass or clay were used to transport and store food and so jugs were an extremely important part of everyday life. The Roman government imported food from Spain and Africa and then distributed it freely to their citizens and established a distribution network which ensured that there weren’t food shortages.

The Romans also used amphorae. These were jugs made from terracotta with reinforced bases making them strong enough to store wine, olive oil or grapes. The Romans were famous for their aqueducts and so people used jugs, usually carrying them balanced on their heads, to collect water from the aqueducts and take them to their homes. The Romans were quite advanced in terms of their jug-making and their glass jugs often had the name of the contents of the jug stamped on the bottom.

Today we continue to use jugs but despite the fact that they can contribute to the overall experience of the meal they are often given little attention. Whilst the shape and use of jugs has changed little over the centuries it is still important that the right jug is used for the right occasion, particularly in catering To ensure that you use the correct jug in your dinner service we have created this jug guide:–

Gravy Boats

Gravy jugs, or gravy boats, as they are also known, are short, long jugs with small handles. They tend to be made from a ceramic material, and often have a delicate design. The attractive white gravy boat by Churchills is typical of this genre.

For those that prefer a more utilitarian style, the stainless steel gravy boat medium duty 16 oz is also a great choice, offering high resistance to staining and an attractive finish.

Sauce Jugs

Sauce jugs are similar to gravy boats but should be taller. Their shape is very similar to the style of jug used by the Romans. Spyro make a beautiful sauce boat which would complement both a contemporary and traditional setting. Its design features a delicate, swirling embossment which creates and optical illusion with the light.

The spouts on both gravy jugs and sauce jugs are often straight and are decorated. This is because they are used for pouring thick and viscous liquids which tend to run out slowly and so require little direction or control.

Water and Wine Jugs

Water jugs are much larger and taller than gravy jugs. Both glazed ceramics and glass are very popular for water jugs as they are neutral and don’t affect the taste of the water.

Wine jugs, or claret jugs, which have been used Roman times are used for pouring wine and originated from the need to pour wine elegantly and without spillages at formal events. They tend to be highly decorative and have turned spouts, handles and bases.

Both water and wine jugs tend to have curled spouts since the liquid is much thinner than a gravy or a sauce and having curled spouts ensures that the liquid can be guided and spillages avoided.

The Terracotta Wine Jug can be used for both water and wine and makes a delightful addition to any tapas bar or rustic restaurant. The 1 litre Broc Jug Hook Handle is a very practical item which can be used in almost any setting, either for water, sangria or juice.

If you are looking for something a little different the Tall N Slenda 1.1 No Handle jug will set you apart from the competition. Handmade in a contemporary design it will certainly be a talking point and is perfect for dinner parties.


To browse our full range of jugs, gravy boats and sauce boats please click here.

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