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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Marmalade makers of the world ready to do battle at Cumbrian festival

A record number of jars have been entered into this year’s seventh annual World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival taking place at Dalemain near Penrith this weekend.

Marmalade judging phioto
Anne Williams studies a jar for its colour

Entries are up by more than 50 per cent with about 1,650 jars of marmalade being accepted by organisers before the closing date from across the globe. Last year the festival attracted 1,100 jars.

Judges Eileen Wilson and Doreen Cameron, from the Women’s Institute, have had their tastebuds tested to the limit. The pair have spent several days this week putting each jar through its paces against strict criteria.

They are awarding bronze, silver and gold certificates to the best after marking amateur entries for taste, colour and set.

Jane Hasell-McCosh, whose family owns Dalemain, is the driving force behind the festival.

She said: “We are absolutely delighted that once again, the number of entries has grown, both from amateurs and artisan producers and only hope that this reflects a general continuation of love of marmalade.”

There are categories for marmalade makers of every ability including a Paddington Bear-sponsored family category, sections for novices, bed and breakfast owners, artisan and commercial producers and a new heritage section for recipes that have been passed down through generations.

There is also a special “Marmalade Made For The Monarch” category celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

A commercial producer will be commissioned to reproduce the winning recipe and a jar of it will be sent to the Queen as a gift to mark her 60 years on the throne.

The best in show will receive a silver gilt cup presented by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and each category winner will receive a prize.

All amateur entry fees will be donated to charity. The 2012 beneficiaries are Hospice at Home and Action Medical Research. More than £70,000 has been raised over the last six years.

This year’s festival is being sponsored by Paddington, Jam Jar Shop, Mackays, Thursday Cottage and Fortnum & Mason.

The 2012 artisan competition category will reward the winner with the opportunity of having their marmalade sold at Fortnum & Mason.

Lord Henley, who farms at Scaleby near Carlisle, was crowned the best marmalade maker at last year’s event.

Meanwhile, a jar made by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall heads England’s battle to win the 2012 ‘Marmalashes’ when the festival opens tomorrow. England’s 11 jars hope to restore some national pride after makers from Down Under scooped last year’s title.

On both days, visitors to Dalemain will be able to take part in a range of festival activities including marmalade tasting workshops. They can also book tickets for special events including lectures by Guardian food writer Dan Lepard. The two-day festival will also include music from The Dalemain Trio – Andrew Watkinson, Sophie Renshaw and Shuna Wilson. They will be performing at St Andrews, Dacre, tomorrow.

There will also be a food fayre, farmers’ market, and marmalade-making sessions and Dalemain’s gardens will be open to visitors.

St Andrews at Dacre will also play host to the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, who is this year’s guest preacher. The marmalade festival service will take place at the church at 9.30am on Sunday.

Entry to the festival is £4.50 on the gate but tickets to some of the special events – such as Saturday’s concert, some lectures and marmalade-making workshops – are available at £12 (including free festival entry).

For further information, visit www.marmaladeawards.com.

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