National Marmalade Week 2024

National Marmalade Week 2024

National Marmalade Week 2024

Dalemain, Ullswater 13th to 20th April

A brief introduction to National Marmalade Week 2024, where it is and what is it all about? Honestly, it’s an event I had never heard of. Yet it’s one you can even contribute to by making your own marmalade and help benefit charity. Definitely too late for this year’s UK National Marmalade Week as the cut off for competitors was the 5th February. However, you could go along and find out what it is about and make an entry next year from a more informed position. Who knows, maybe even a prize or two? It’s held in a lovely part of the country at Pooley Bridge not far from Penrith in the Lake District. A reasonable distance away from Wigan too, so great for a day out. This year the event runs from the 13th to 20th April.

National Marmalade Week 2024 Venue - Dalemain Mansion and Gardens Ullswater
Courtesy of Dalemain

Dalemain hosts the World Marmalade Awards & Festival every year in the Lake District. From the first event back in 2005, it is almost two decades old now. It’s all about communities getting together. Oh and of course homemade marmalade makers from all around the world. Up to a hundred volunteers give their time to organise this competition to find the best marmalade from across the globe.

National Marmalade Week 2024 Dalemain

The organisers host the event in the impressive Dalemain mansion and gardens. Arguably it is worth a visit for the venue alone. The original Hall dates back to the 12th century. The objectives are to educate through cooking natural produce while raising significant sums of monies for great causes including local Hospices. Wonderfully, every penny that competitors pay in entry fee goes to the charities. It also provides a great service in preserving artisan marmalade makers from all around the world. That’s small businesses or individuals from as far afield as Taiwan, Japan, Argentina, India. Some of the competitors go back generations.

Word has it there are marmalade jars that fill every nook and cranny of the place. It’s not a small home either! World marmalade week organisers also announce the winners at the festival. Of course you can even enjoy marmalade tastings and demonstrations, talks and much more.

Homemade Marmalade for NAtional Marmalade Week 2024 Fundraising

Rathbones, Fortnum & Mason, Westmorland Family and Lycetts provide generous support in raising funds for great causes. Along with the fees from thousands of competition entries, they have raised over a quarter of a million pounds. Of course Paddington Bear is a patron! Apparently organisers assure it is a little eccentric as far as day’s out go!

Seville Oranges at Windy Arbour Farm Shop

So do you want to enter next year? You have plenty of time to perfect your marmalade and entries start in January 2025. You could even use produce from one of our local farm shops. I did see Seville oranges on sale at Windy Arbour earlier this year.

Of course you would find out in far more detail than here would you visit National Marmalade Week 2024. Well, marmalade is a fruit preserve. Those making it use citrus fruits juice and peel. Next, they proceed to boil them with sugar and large amounts of water. Although orange is the most common in the UK, there are other varieties available rather than just using bitter varieties of orange citrus fruit. You may have possibly come across lemon and lime marmalade but others may use grapefruits, bergamots sweeter orange varieties, mandarins or others.

What's in Marmalade

Marmalade makers often associate the extremely bitter Spanish orange with it. Trust me, don’t try biting a natural one, even after you peel it!  The fruit is high in natural pectin. Pectin ensures the marmalade sets into firm consistency. Be aware, natural pectin is not the same as industrial added pectin gelling agents. The citrus fruit peel delivers that bitter taste.

So, unlike jam, when you make marmalade it requires you to add a large quantity of water. The fruit’s natural pectin will set the liquid into a natural jelly consistency. Marmalade makers retain the fruit pulp and peel in it.

There is a lot of false chatter about marmalade being created in Scotland or in the UK anywhere between 1500 and later. However the word Marmalade originates from the Portuguese marmelada or marmelos. As I understand, it means made of quince. Though not a citrus fruit and related to the apple or pear, the Romans learned from the Greeks they could cook quinces with honey slowly. On cooling, they would then set. Records date back to Constatine VII and refer to recipes of Roman marmalade comprised from quince and lemon preserves.

Chester and Marmalde's History
Old Dee bridge and Weir Chester

Moving forward somewhat, though still way before even my birth, we head to Cheshire. There’s a recipe book dated 1677 by Eliza Cholmondeley. It still exists at the Chester Record Office archives. The book lists one of the earliest recipes “Marmelet of Oranges”.

Later recipes exist in Mary Kettilby’s 1714 cookery book, Collection of Three Hundred Recipes.  It lists whole oranges, lemon juice and sugar, Apparently it was much brighter and less opaque than our more familiar marmalades today.

The Scots popularised marmalade for breakfast. In the 1800s, English followed suit rather than previous traditions of consuming it in the evening. Marmalade’s place in British life appears in literature. Historic records show Samuel Johnson tried it in 1773 at breakfast in Scotland. Somewhat later the American writer Louisa May Alcott famed for writing Little Women tried marmalade when she visited England in the 1800s. She wrote that it was common at breakfast alongside cold ham in England.

Benefits of Homemade Marmalade
P 051

The big brand manufacturers of marmalades and jams typically stuff them with additives to ensure a greater shelf life. It also means they can make it in far greater quantities for storage and sell at lower prices. Sadly, the consequence is that can result in a far less natural product. That is even the case with many allegedly higher quality brands. Just take a look at the ingredients and give them a quick google if you want to know more.

Of course making your own avoids that. Clearly it requires more effort, yet even if you try it now and again you are likely to benefit. Perhaps even fun for the children with your supervision depending on age too?

There’s a great book, Ultra Processed People that explains the harm of additives by medic Chris Van Tulleken. I’ve provided a link below. Try Sainsbury first though as it is often on offer at more or less half price! There is another great read explaining much the same, tha is simpler to digest (pun totally intended). It too is often in Sainsbury’s.

Got a recipe that you would like to share, then feel free. Either here or on Winstanley What’s On Facebook Page.

Low evening light with Ullswater - National Marmalde Week 2024 Surroundings
Low evening light with Ullswater – National Marmalde Week 2024 Surroundings

National Marmalade Event information.

Dalemain House and Gardens

Pooley Bridge Ullswater, Lake District

Ultra Processed People – Chris van Tulleken

Food for Life – Tim Spector

…finally if you do go then we’d love to hear how it went. Both good and anything not so good. It only helps us with future recommendations and articles to present. Thanks #WWO.

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