Making Marmalade

| 2/13/2013 1:19:50 PM

Tags: seasonal foods, food preservation, Cathie Ackroyd,

Is marmalade eating a global phenomenon? I’m not sure but I have a hunch that marmalade is really a very British thing which is strange as it is a jam/jelly preserve made from oranges which do not grow here in the UK’s cool climate.

seville orangesThe Seville orange is the favoured fruit for making delicious marmalade from primarily to enjoy at breakfast time with some thickly sliced buttered toast and a hot cup of tea. The oranges are at their best at this time of year and come from our European neighbor Spain.

The British have many different types of marmalade for sale on supermarket shelves – lemon and lime, shredless, grapefruit but the continuing favourite is that made from Seville oranges which have a bitter taste. The traditional marmalades come in thick cut or thin cut varieties depending on whether you prefer the strips of orange peel to be chewable or swallowable.

The Seville orange is a lumpy bumpy thing compared to its well-bred modern cousins who have been genetically selected over the years for looks, taste and the ability to travel well. When a Seville orange is sliced open it seems to be all pith and pips and very little orange flesh as we have come to recognize. It is perfect for marmalade making as carries a huge amount of flavor but also within its pith and seeds are good quantities of pectin the natural setting agent required for fruit preserves to set.

The Seville orange apparently originated in India over 3000 years ago but was brought to Europe by Arab traders who prized the fruit for their strong fragrance and their flavor and small plantations of them were established in Southern Spain in the Province of Seville.

The story goes that a ship carrying a huge cargo of the fruit was forced to take shelter from a storm at Dundee, Scotland here in the UK in the 1700s. A sweetshop owner bought the lot for a low price and used his sugar supplies from his own stores to preserve the fruit using jamming techniques. The result was a hit and soon the family opened a factory to make Dundee marmalade in large quantities. The firm is still making lovely marmalade today.

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