Saturday, 12 January 2013

Making marmalade to competition standard

Like a lot of people at the moment I'm making marmalade at home, Seville oranges (the ones that are traditionally used for making bitter orange marmalade) are in season now and this season is very short (late December to early February).

Last year I made my first marmalade with Seville oranges I can't remember which recipe I used but it wasn't that successful really, the marmalade was too dark, the peel was almost indigestible and even with my limited knowledge I know that was because I boiled it for too long. After that attempt I thought I should stick with the tried and trusted pink grapefruit, it never fails me...but I now know that using preserving sugar isn't the best option for preserves and you can't just eat pink grapefruit marmalade forever can you?

So this year I'm trying to improve a lot, and improve so much that I want to enter a pot (or two) in to the Dalemain National Marmalade Awards in Penrith (Cumbria) held in early March 2013. I must be mad! After all my marmalade may be edible BUT its not up to competition standard. Oh no! But one thing I learned last year when I spent a day making traditional preserves with Vivien Lloyd at her home, was that good preserving is all about knowledge, practice, the right recipe, practice and FEEDBACK. So I think if I enter then I'll get some pretty decent feedback, as the judges at Dalemain are WI judges, and you can't mess with the WI.
So I'm setting myself a challenge to improve my marmalade and then to enter it into these awards, in what categories yet I'm not sure as there are an awful lot of them...and last year over 1,700 jars were submitted into this competition. Trying to be placed anywhere in that lot will be very tough. No pressure here!  These are the homemade categories, I have discounted those I can't enter and explained why...

  • Seville Orange marmalade
  • Children’s marmalade (sponsored by Paddington Bear) (Far too old for this obvs!)
  • Any Citrus marmalade 
  • Dark and Chunky marmalade 
  • Clergy marmalade (I'm not a vicar or a priest, or a nun!)
  • Man-made marmalade (I'm not a guy so can't enter)
  • Novice marmalade 
  • Heritage marmalade (I have no relatives that I know have made marmalade nor do I have a family recipe)
  • International marmalade (Lancashire doesn't qualify, not 'international' enough...not even Chorley!!!)
  • Tri Services marmalade (I don't work for the forces)
  • Merry marmalade – marmalade with alcohol 
So I've narrowed it down a bit...and today I have made my first batch of Seville orange marmalade...its not perfect consistency and colour wise, but tastes OK.  I did learn some things today from batch one that I need to do differently...but the pressure is on...last night I had a bit of a wobble about labels for the jars for the competition...this is getting quite serious now.

If you fancy entering the Dalemain competition (its done by post) you can find the details here...each entry costs £7 and this event does raise a lot of money for two very worthwhile charities. Entries must be in by 19th February 2013.

I'll keep you up to date with how my marmalade making is going, about the recipes I use and what happens when I enter...the worlds original marmalade awards...Yikes!!!

N.B This post is NOT sponsored.

14 comments:

  1. I didn't realise you had not made much Seville Orange marmalade before. I think you have done a great job. Look forward to seeing the next batch!

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    1. Ha ha ha (laughs hysterically). Batch 2 will be better...

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  2. I've only ever made jam so you're ahead of me. I used to buy all my marmalade at the WI until we moved so I should really make some as there are empty jars in the garage waiting to be filled:-)

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    1. Please have a go, Its wrong of me to go through this alone Camilla. :-))

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  3. Good luck with your competition. :) I've never tried making marmalade before, but I don't really like it, so I likely won't try!

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    1. Aaaah but if you made your won and tried different varieties you 'might' grow to love it :-))

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  4. Ahh good luck Sue. Your marmalade looks good to me and that comes from someone whose mother makes excellent Seville marmalade. I've never tried to make it myself, but I did make my first ever lemon marmalade recently and I was quite pleased with the results.

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    1. Thanks very much, its Ok but it needs more work to be good enough to enter, I am learning a lot and thats a good thing. Why don't you enter your lemon marmalade...and you should get your mum to enter hers it sounds fab. x

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  5. Well done Sue! I am following your efforts with great interest . Air bubbles in marmalade may be due to over-boiling-welcome to the "set-anxiety" club.Also, the thinner the peel is sliced, the more pectin is released into the pan which influences the set.

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  6. Thanks Viv! I think it was over boiled because there was too much liquid to begin with (I think)...will try thinner peel as didn't know that.

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  7. I know you made Nigella's pink grapefruit marmalade. Have you tried the variation for seville on the same page? If so, how did it turn out?

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    1. Hi No I haven't tried Nigella's recipe...I am using Vivien Lloyds, this is along the lines of Delia's.

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  8. Best of luck with the competition ... I look forward to hearing about your experiences! I too am entering the competition this year ... should be fun!

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  9. Hi. I make a lot of marmalade as I live in Cyprus so am regularly given the fruit. the earlier you make it in the season, the better it will set. the later you leave it, the longer you will have to boil it to get a set. I'm happy to share my recipe which is based on my mum's - and she was a controller of a WI market so had to judge (accept or reject) everybody else's - and still keep her friends. she was a gracious lady my mum.

    My recipe is not a quick one - it takes time. But it will keep for years - a friend yesterday told me she was eating a jar from 2008. See link:

    www.cypruscalling.com

    this site also has details of how to make olives (from raw).

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Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x