What better time to announce the winners of the 2013 Marmalade Awards than in the middle of National Marmalade Week, 2nd – 9th March.
This year at Dalemain Mansion and Gardens in Cumbria where Paddington bear eagerly awaits, a retired micro-biologist from Brighton and an artisan preserves maker from a rural corner of the Czech Republic were crowned the world’s best marmalade makers at last weekend’s World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival.
Dr Yen-Chung Chong won Best in Show with his ‘Bloody Merry Marmalade’, a heady mixture of blood orange and vodka, to be named ‘The World’s Best Amateur Marmalade Maker’. Incredibly Dr Chong won the title four years ago, making him the only person to have won the gong twice. His homemade recipe will now be made commercially and sold by Fortnum & Mason, with 50p from each jar sold going to charity.
Blanka Milfaitova won the sweet honour of ‘The World’s Best Artisan Marmalade Maker’ with her mouth-watering lemon marmalade, concocted in her kitchen in the southern border mountains of the Czech Republic, a country usually more famous for its dumplings and beer. Blanka’s jars will also now be sold at Fortnum & Mason – a world away from the handful of shops and farmers’ markets that currently sell them in her native country. – an art that goes back more than 400 hundred years – which is evidence of marmalade’s growing popularity outside the UK.
Over 1,900 jars, from all over the world, were sent into the Awards, held at Dalemain Mansion near Penrith in Cumbria. The marmalades are tasted ‘blind’ by a distinguished panel of preserves experts.
Awards organiser Jane Hasell-McCosh said: "When I started this event eight years ago, I wanted to prove that marmalade was still as popular as ever. Since then the resounding message from our entrants is that it's not only a vital preserve of the British breakfast table but also one that reaches far beyond our shores, which is fantastic news. We’ve had entries from as far afield as Japan, Australia and the Philippines, as well as from all over the UK."
Other marmalade makers to receive a prestigious sticky gong at the Festival were:
· A Colonel from Andover who scooped the Tri-Services Marmalade prize
· A man from Kyoto in Japan who won the International Marmalade award, beating preserves makers from 16 other countries
· First time marmalade cook Jane Boylan from Penrith who scooped the Novice category
· Youngsters Matthew Foster from Northamptonshire and William Preston from West Yorkshire who jointly won the Children’s Marmalade prize.
· For the first time the Awards also boasted a Best Marmalade Cake competition which was won by Love Jam Kitchen.
Jonathan Miller, Food Buyer at Fortnum & Mason, who has been a judge at the awards for the last four years, said the standard of marmalade entries continued to be extremely high. "The winning marmalades stood out as they had good acidity, were fully fruited, low sugar and great zest. Like a good wine, marmalade needs to have good fruit and full body."
Judging for the amateur categories was undertaken by members of the local WI. The artisan judging was carried out by a panel including food historian Ivan Day, preserve expert Pam Corbin, Jonathan Miller, baker and food writer Dan Lepard and Tim Came from Thursday Cottage.