A Seville-ised way to start the day!

Mary Kemp:

EDP Norfolk - - IN­SIDE -

Make your own mar­malade, says Mary

For many of us, life would not be the same if we couldn’t start the day with a round of toast cov­ered in mar­malade and a cup of tea or cof­fee. It’s not re­ally a meal full of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, but it is def­i­nitely a meal which is very British and prob­a­bly best if the mar­malade is home-made.

Ev­ery­one’s taste in mar­malade is dif­fer­ent; some like it chunky, oth­ers with su­per fine shreds, and a few with no shreds at all. The bit­ter Seville or­ange is the most tra­di­tional fruit to use to make mar­malade with and, ar­guably, the best.

These or­anges have a re­ally short sea­son, just a few weeks in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, but what makes them spe­cial is that they have a unique aro­matic qual­ity and are rich in pectin. If you’re able to shop around a lit­tle, it is pos­si­ble to get or­ganic Sevilles, which Nigel Slater, and more im­por­tantly my mum, in­sist are the best; the flavour is bet­ter, and they seem to have more pectin, which helps the set.

The his­tory of mar­malade is a com­pli­cated one, with some sto­ries more be­liev­able than oth­ers. The name orig­i­nates from an Old Por­tuguese paste made in the 1500s from quince, called ‘marme­lada’, which was solid and sweet. It was im­ported by the late 15th cen­tury, and his­tory books and food his­to­ri­ans say that Henry VIII was given a box of quince mar­malade in 1524, while they also doc­u­ment Mary Queen of Scots’ love of it.

The in­ven­tion of mod­ern or­ange mar­malade as we know it is gen­er­ally cred­ited to the Scots, specif­i­cally a woman called Janet Keiller from Dundee some­time in the 1790’s. She was given a large box of bit­ter or­anges from Seville and, not know­ing what to do with them, she chopped, boiled and sweet­ened them, cre­at­ing the recipe for the shred­ded jewel-like coloured jelly we love to­day.

Whether this story is true or not the Keiller fam­ily of Dundee built the first mar­malade fac­tory in 1797 and Dundee is known as the home of mar­malade.

Look out for Seville or­anges in the shops in the New Year. I buy a bas­ket of Seville or­anges, a moun­tain of sugar and get the box of re­cy­cled jars up from the cel­lar ready to fill.

I have one good ba­sic recipe, which uses six Seville or­anges, a sweet or­ange, a lemon, ap­prox­i­mately 600g of gran­u­lated sugar and two litres of wa­ter.

How­ever, I’m al­ways in­trigued by other peo­ple’s recipes. I have found one that adds a dash of whisky, just be­fore the fruit is cooked. Ap­par­ently, there is no dan­ger of it turn­ing into an al­co­holic break­fast spread as the al­co­hol is boiled away as you cook, but I gather it does add some­thing to the flavour. I am not sure about this one as I’m not a whisky fan, but I might try a batch just to see.

Have a go. It’s easy to make, the kitchen will smell lovely, and you’ll have jars of bot­tled sun­shine on your shelves to brighten up the most dis­mal morn­ing for months to come! Find out more about Mary Kemp’s cook­ery the­atres, demon­stra­tions and more recipes at marykemp.net

ABOVE:A great way to start the day; toast and mar­malade

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