Posts Tagged ‘jam’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on February 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm
Filed under: best of the week, english breakfast, english foods, jam, marmalade

English traditions: Marmalade

I’ve just spotted Seville oranges in a greengrocer’s. I’ve had a little rest from jam making now that we’ve dealt with the last of the apple and pear harvest – but now it’s time to start making marmalade. A jam maker’s work is never done!

I’ve had jams and jellies all over the world, from Spanish membrillo (quince jelly) to coconut jam and even fig jam. But marmalade, as far as I can find out, is a distinctively British tradition – other countries call jam ‘marmelata’ but they don’t make marmalade, distinctive for its chunks of citrus fruit, including the peel.  It’s not sweet the way apricot or strawberry jam is – there’s a real citrus tang, that nice sharpness you get when you bite into an orange quarter at half-time in a football game. If you’ve got a really good dark marmalade, you get the bitterness together with a powerful sweetness, giving a complex and very full flavour.

Marmalade is, distinctly, a breakfast condiment. You might have jam with scones, at afternoon tea. You might have jam in a white bread sandwich. But marmalade goes with toast, and you have it at breakfast, and no other time. (Actually I prefer to eat mine with my sausage… but then I’m possibly a bit weird.) If you’re having a Full English Breakfast and you haven’t got marmelade, it’s not a proper English breakfast!

Making marmalade is simple. Get your Seville oranges, chop them up – preserving the pith, which will melt in to give your jam its body – add the same weight of sugar that you had of oranges, and boil, boil, boil till it’s gloopy and ready to put in the jar. You can test whether it’s ready by taking a spoonful of the syrup and letting it run down a plate – if it sticks, it’s ready.

There’s a useful recipe on the BBC website if you fancy making your own.

There’s traditional marmalade. Marmalade with lemon, marmalade with lime. You can get it coarse cut, with big chunks of translucent peel, or fine cut. You can even get it with whisky or added, with spices like coriander or cardamom, or with ginger. So, quite a lot of options here for you!

Of course you don’t have to make it yourself. You can buy marmalade from any number of places in London. Avoid the duty free shop at the airport, and head for some rather special stores:

  • Rosslyn Deli [map] in Hampstead has Bucks Fizz Marmalade, Three Fruit Marmalade, Marmalade with Honey, with Earl Grey tea, with real ale, with whisky. It even has pink grapefruit marmalade. You can buy off the website too but that’s not nearly so much fun.
  • Fortnum & Mason [map] has some quite amazing marmalades, from the most traditional to clementine and blood orange versions, also with ginger,  and dark marmalades made with brown sugar to give a deeper colour and taste, such as ‘Sir Nigel’s Vintage Orange Marmalade‘.  Well worth visiting the website to read the story of this one!
  • Borough Market [map] has several delis and stalls that sell different varieties of marmalade – worth a hunt. (Remember, the market is only open Thursday to Saturday, though some of the shops are open all week.) Someone told me they’d found a jar of marmalade made with molasses, really dark and wicked, but I’ve never been able to lay my hands on one.

Don’t fall for jars of marmalade with pictures of guardsmen or the royal family on the outside – they look nice but they’re probably ordinary marmalade tarted up. Instead, if you don’t fancy the gourmet stuff and you want an authentic English marmalade, go to a supermarket and find one of the traditional brands: Frank Cooper’s, or Tiptree. Of course you could also try Tesco’s Finest – it’s not bad – but the brand name doesn’t have quite the same appeal.

And did you know there’s a Marmalade Festival in February? It’s not in London – it’s all the way up in Cumbria, so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to go along – but it sounds like a blast. By the way, if your name is Frank Cooper, you’ll get in for free as long as you have your ID with you! (The same goes for Roses and Robertsons, also sponsored entrance to the festival by marmalade makers of that name.)

Photo by Sarah G on flickr

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