The British love their marmalade on toast but recent reports claim that its sales are in decline, with peanut butter and chocolate spreads taking over in popularity.
This information has provoked national outrage and with the arrival of Seville oranges this month, avid cooks are in a frenzy. Sweet versus tangy recipes are being debated and favourite brands being touted.
Photo: uma wylde
It's nice to know that people take their homemade jam so seriously. It's one thing to go and buy a jar(Frank Cooper's Original, to be exact--highly recommended as being dark and tangy), it's another to enjoy the pleasure of making it from scratch and feeding it to friends and guests.
The true die-hards will be participating in the World's Original Marmalade Awards next month. Anyone can enter, so long as you've made the marmalade yourself. The categories include artisanal, B&B;, and home awards. This category is particularly wide open and includes: Thin Cut Seville Orange Marmalade, A Family Affair, Any Citrus Marmalade, Dark &/or Chunky,Peers & Political (only in England), Military, Merry, Clergy and International.
Last year there were over 800 entries so things can get hot and sticky. According to the Financial Times, one Lord was delighted to beat out a Scottish MP. Last year's winner of the Military category had to make his secretly at night after his wife went to bed since she was also an entrant in the festival.
They have added a new category this year: the 2011 Marmalade Cat of the Year and want owners to send in pictures of their marmalade-coloured kitties. The winner's picture will be on the marmalade website.
The inventive category invites all kinds of creativity in cooking. Last year's double-gold winner had a unique method. A retired bio-chemist, he "squeezes the juice from Sicilian blush oranges and some lemons. Then he filters the liquid overnight through a jelly bag, reboils the debris with water and adds hand-cut rind. The liquids and zest are boiled with white cane sugar and home-made Seville orange pectin; finally, he pours in campari."
Marmalade has been around for a long time. A cook book dated around 1677 in the Chester Record Office, has one of the earliest recipes for a Marmelet of Oranges that compares to the marmalade we know today. A later recipe from around 1714 includes the important addition of lemon juice which helps to create the pectin set of marmalade.
The yummy affair is held at a stately home in Cumbria over two days, on February 12 and 13, with judging and all kinds of activities.