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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Jars in their eyes as marmalade makers go for gold

Marmalade isn’t just for breakfast.

Marmalade festival photo
Erin Kirkham meets Paddington Bear, one of marmalade’s most famous fans

Cumbria hosted the World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival this weekend, which attracted devotees from as far away New Zealand, the USA and South Korea.

It was the ninth year that Jane Hasell-McCosh held the event at her family home, historic Dalemain between Penrith and Pooley Bridge.

This year’s festival attracted more than 2,000 entries, including a healthy number from novices and children.

Mrs Hasell-McCosh said: “We’ve been surprised and delighted not only by the sheer number of entries into this year’s competition but also by the range of interesting and sometimes downright unusual ingredients that you wouldn’t normally associate with marmalade.

“I believe this reflects the resurgence in popularity in marmalade, designed to satisfy modern taste buds.

“While everyone appreciates a good, traditional Seville orange marmalade, our broadening food repertoire is leading us to create a plethora of new marmalade flavours for future generations to enjoy.”

Arguably the most unusual ingredient was seaweed, used in a marmalade from South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Other innovative combinations included lemon and vodka; sweet orange and 70 per cent chocolate; blood orange and black pepper; tangelo, fennel and smoked paprika; ginger, chilli and Indian spice; and clementine and lavender.

The top prize for ‘best homemade marmalade’ went to 70-year-old Sarah Byrne, of Chiddingstone in Kent, who used beer from her small family brewery for her Seville orange marmalade with beer.

Her winning marmalade will be stocked by Fortnum & Mason in London.

She said: “I’m delighted to have won this award, particularly as this is the first time I’ve made marmalade with beer.

“It tastes wonderful and not at all like a traditional Seville marmalade.”

Three other producers were awarded “double gold” gongs and also make it onto the shelves of Fortnum & Mason.

One of them was local. Wild and Fruitful, of Wigton, won for its orange and barbecue marmalade devised to complement sausages.

Other attractions included a 10-kilometre trail race, readings from the Paddington Bear books, a marmalade Question Time, marmalade-making demonstrations, and marmalade tastings including a tasting of wines to match marmalade.

The Dalemain event kicks off National Marmalade Week (March 1-8), which encourages people to try, buy or make marmalade.

Money raised from amateur entry fees goes to Hospice at Home, Action Medical Research and Marie Curie Scotland.

The festival has raised more £120,000 for Hospice at Home since its launch in 2006.

Full details of winners online at www.marmaladeawards.com.

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