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|
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|
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