Dalemain Marmalade Competition, Penrith, Cumbria
Seville oranges are in the shops and there are still a few days left to enter this uniquely British competition which attracts a following from all over the world.
Dalemain Marmalade Competition is run in conjunction with Fortnum & Mason
Bring the Sunshine into Your Kitchen This Weekend
Once Seville oranges hit the supermarket shelves, the culinary equivalent of a sunny day is injected into kitchens across Britain. Marmalade enthusiasts reach for their preserving pans, thermometers, chopping knives and spoons, wafting the scent of orange zest throughout the home. Known for their high pectin content, Seville oranges produce the best marmalade.
And there’s a heady incentive too. The winner of the Dalemain Marmalade Competition, now in its 12th year, receives a juicy prize – the honour of seeing their marmalade stocked in Fortnum & Mason, Britain’s most distinguished grocer. The competition attracts thousands of entries from all over the world with the winning marmalade raising funds for charity.
A British Tradition
We love our marmalade in Britain. Spread on buttered toast in the morning and enjoyed with a cup of English breakfast tea, it’s a quintessential part of our daily morning ritual. Originally a quince paste from Spain, it was in the 1600s that it first became the marmalade we associate today.
It’s not hard to tap into the history of our national preserve on your travels. Visit Oxford and a short walk from the railway station, you can have breakfast at The Jam Factory where Frank Cooper’s Marmalade was originally made. It was actually his wife, Sarah, who made it (although it seems that Frank was more than happy for his name to grace the breakfast table). At the Tiptree Tea Rooms and Museum in Essex, you can see the pots and pans used for boiling the fruit.
In York, the city that produced the iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange, there’s a jar of marmalade on display at York Castle Museum. It was taken by Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica. Just off London’s famous Portobello Road, at the quirky Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, there are old jars of Robertson’s Golden Shred marmalade embellished with Golliwoggs. The Golly first appeared on jars in 1910 but the character was removed in 2001.
But it’s not just spread on toast. Travel around the country and you’ll taste it in many delicious forms. At Chartwell, the family home of Sir Winston Churchill in Kent, where he insisted a marmalade cat should always be in residence, I ate Dundee cake. Glazed with marmalade, it was Churchill’s favourite. The Keiller family, famous as the founders of the first commercial brand of marmalade – used factory downtime to make this legendary Scottish cake. At Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales, I tried dark chocolate with marmalade, a bitter sweet triumph from Nom Nom, a young Welsh chocolate co-operative. My favourite though, was on a Herefordshire potato farm, headquarters of the Chase distillery where they produce a divine marmalade vodka. Try it drizzled over Heston Blumenthal’s marmalade on toast ice cream (available at Waitrose).
Should you decide to rise to the challenge this weekend and make marmalade, you can check out all the important info here. There are special collection points across the country from where Virgin Trains will whisk the entries to Cumbria.
The Dalemain Marmalade Championships
The Awards are centred on Dalemain Mansion; a Georgian stately home lived in by the same family for over 300 years, which also happens to hold a very rich archive of Marmalade recipes. Founded in 2005 by Jane Hasell-McCosh, these quirky awards were conceived with the initial idea of preserving, growing and widening one of the most British of customs – making marmalade. They have gone on to generate a following far beyond Jane’s wildest expectations and have humour and a life of their own, inspiring people from all over the world to get involved.
Mackays Seville Orange Marmalade
Any Citrus Marmalade
Tate & Lyle®’s Marmalade with a Twist
Children’s Marmalade – For Children 13 and under with a little help from an adult.
Tate & Lyle®’s First Timers
Dark & Chunky Marmalade
Mackays Commonwealth & International Marmalade
Merry Marmalade – Marmalade with Alcohol
The Dalemain Marmalade Festival
If you fancy a weekend in the Lake District, visit Penrith on 18th & 19th March for The Dalemain Marmalade Festival when the winners will be announced with great ceremony at Dalemain Mansion and the town glows orange in its honour.
For more information visit: www.dalemain.com
The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.