Marmalade: Easy and Clean & World's Marmalade Awards

In Yesteryears, in our household, the start of every New-Year was celebrated, not with a party (though we have that too) but with a day of marmalade making. In fact, it all used to begin prior to marmalade-day with the Seville oranges buying expeditions. There was no prouder person in the house than the one who spotted and gathered the first Seville oranges of the season.

But times are changing,
This year, I trotted full of confidence with my red string bag to the local daily fruits and vegetables market. Despite the fact that it's mid-January, there was no Seville oranges to be seen on any of the stalls. To my shock and horror, I was told, "Nah! Luv, there is no demand for th'm. The old biddies are dead and the young 'uns are too lazy."

Well, Mister Market-Stall-Trader, eat your heart out. Marmalade is a British institution, breakfast wouldn't be breakfast without a jar of marmalade. People are passionate about their home-made preserves. Citrus may no grow well in this country but, by all the Kitchen Gods, we certainly like our marmalades.
Marmalade made with tin of preserved Seville Oranges
There was no way I was going to buy commercial marmalade for ever after, therefore I had to rethink, every year, I made marmalade with a various degree of success. The first year, it was just perfect but I might have got a bit cocky because the following year I burnt it. And it went from bad to worse, on one occasion the kitchen was sticky for weeks or we had far too many jars as nobody wanted it because it was so so runny. Only usable for cakes or in recipes such as....

                              Marmalade and Whisky Glazed Ham

This year, I was going to put my spoon where my month was and in view of the difficulties to source Seville oranges, I used a tin of preserved Seville oranges. Tins come in thick or thin cuts, lemon and strawberry (see picture). I felt like a fraud but I am now a convert. The taste is exactly the same, the consistency perfect, no peeling, no slicing and the recipe is on the tin.

Using a tin of preserved is something which is probably not allowed at the   World's Original Marmalade Awards  which has been taking place since 2005. Each year thousand of hopeful marmalade makers enter their preserves in the contest which takes place in Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria, this year taking place on the19th and 20th of March, during Marmalade Week. The whole week is a glorious celebration of marmalade making.

Picture from the marmalade award website
Jars are entered from all around the world. Pots, labelled with love, are dropped off at various points in the country or arrived at Penrith's post-office from as far away as Japan. A friend of mine whose house backs an orange orchard in Napflio, Greece, sends her creation in hope to put Greek oranges back on the map.

Judges like the jars come from various fields, the main awards panel is composed of journalists and well-respected people in the food industry; the home-made creations are judged by WI members, having said that, there are lots of Award categories including children, novices, tri-services, clergy...., you get the gist, some of which are judged by the public.

But make no mistake, if it's all in good spirit and fun, the judges will be looking for taste. The winning product has to taste of the fruits used, too much sugar will kill a marmalade. Texture is important too but above all, it has to set in some way and pass the toast test.

"To date the Dalemain Marmalade Awards & Festival have raised over £150,000 for Hospice at Home.  In 2016 the money raised from your amateur entry fee will go to Hospice at Home, Action Medical Research and Marie Curie Scotland." Something that Jane Hasell-McCosh couldn't possibly have anticipated  when she launched the 1st festival in 2007.

marmalade recipe from scratch here

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