The Gift of Marmalade
A colleague gifted me with a jar of homemade Seville orange marmalade. I was touched. I had watched on his Instagram feed as he shared the laborious process of making it, and I am aware of how much work goes into making anything home-made. But here’s the thing: I’m not a fan of marmalade, and I feel horrible about this. So, I left the jar on the counter to remind me of all his hard work, and perhaps as nudge for me to actually try it. I can be brave. I mean, how bad can it be? My inner voice said “Why do I have such a dislike for marmalade anyway? What is my issue with marmalade? So many people make it, eat it and enjoy it. Surely, I’m missing something?”
Marmalade is considered a luxury product because it is so time consuming to make. The oranges that are used in making marmalade were brought to Europe in the 12th century from China. Fast forward to Scotland in the 1700s where the first recipe for marmalade is rumoured to have been created. Brits continue their love-affair with marmalade, importing about 15,000 tonnes of Seville oranges annually from Spain for its production.
According to Scottish food blogger Fraser Wright, when marmalade is made in factories using machines, and boiled in enormous vats, it produces a sticky, caramelised, and an altogether inferior product. But, small batch making preserves the precious scent of the Seville oranges and a superior product overall.
Knowing that my little jar of marmalade was carefully and lovingly crafted in a home, I
decided to give it another whirl, and to my surprise (and relief) I enjoyed it. It was pleasantly bitter and perfectly balanced with a citrusy sweetness. It was thick and chunky, and sticky and glorious when I spread it on a buttermilk scone. The peels of the oranges are suspended in the clear orange jelly, which indicates it was prepared correctly. I’m a little embarrassed to admit now that I didn’t give marmalade a chance all these years, but am attributing my lack of love for the spread to the fact that the ones I’ve sampled before were factory made.