Theresa Pereira Written by Theresa Pereira

The 2022 Marmalade Festival and its sugars

Marmalade is a fruit preserve or ‘compote’ loved by many across Britain, including Paddington Bear and James Bond. Spread on our toast, applied to flapjacks and roast duck, and even the ‘World’s Original Marmalade Awards’, an annual event in Penrith, in the English Lake District – there are true marmalade fanatics across the globe.

And not only that, the annual Marmalade Festival returns. On May 14th, the festival organisers and consumers will continue to celebrate Britain’s favourite preserve with the announcement of the Homemade Best in Show winner at the Marmalade Festival, held at Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens.

What is marmalade?

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. The most well-known version is made from bitter orange. It can also be made from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots, and other citrus fruits. Citrus is the most typical choice of fruit for marmalade, though historically the term has often been used for non-citrus preserves.

The preferred citrus fruit for marmalade production is the Spanish Seville or bitter orange – ‘Citrus aurantium var. aurantium’, prized for its high pectin content, which sets readily to the thick consistency expected of marmalade. The peel imparts a bitter taste.

Pectin is a plant fibre that binds with sugar and fruit to create a gel. While a simple combination of fruit and sugar can reach gel consistency, adding pectin into the mix will shorten the cooking time when making marmalade, which will, in turn, produce a fresher and more vibrant flavour. In some recipes, pectin allows you to skip cooking altogether, namely in freezer jam.

Buttermilk biscuits with orange marmalade.

Sugars in marmalade

When producing marmalade, there are a variety of sugars you can apply. There is ‘jam sugar’ which, ironically, is not generally recommended to apply, since different types of compotes call for varying amounts of pectin. Some fruits are naturally high in pectin, so you don’t need nearly as much pectin to make them set.

If you would like to create a marmalade with a deeper flavour, you can substitute some of the typical white crystallised sugar in the recipe for soft brown light sugar  or demerara. Seville orange marmalade’s are aromatic with a sour, tangy, and somewhat bitter taste. Higher in pectin than the sweet orange, they give a better set and yield. They also give marmalade a bitter flavour, so adding a demerara or soft brown light sugar will not only create a sweeter, mellow taste, they will add to its warm amber colour.

Small business owners who are producing their own marmalades use cane molasses due to a more natural preservative. Unopened jars will last up to 18 months. Finer-grained sugars should be avoided since they may dissolve inconsistently and could ruin the recipe.

Ragus’ products used in home made marmalade and bulk for businesses.

Winning marmalades 

If you are planning to attend this year’s Marmalade festival, you can try a variety of marmalades which are all up for an award.  There are four categories: Traditional, International, Marmalade to be Eaten with Savoury Food and Marmalade with Alcohol. The four winners will not only have their marmalade tasted by all who attend, but they will have their marmalade sold in Fortnum and Mason.

This year, the festival received over 3,000 entries from preserve lovers around the world, including Japan, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland and Taiwan to name a few. And the festival has seen jars arriving in all sorts of ways: hand delivered in baskets, by a range of couriers, at Marmalade Exchanges, on the Marmalade Motorway and the Marmalade Railway Express. The methods of transport are interesting and diverse as is the marmalade itself.

As well as the competition, there will be Q&A’s, cookery demonstrations, interviews and more as we celebrate all things marmalade.  Fun activities, tastings and displays of marmalade in the State Rooms. The perfect day out for all the family and small business owners who specialise in compotes.

 Closeup of bonne maman mini french marmalade pots.

So with so much heritage, marmalade is a British staple that will continue to be loved. Marmalade connoisseurs across the country and beyond can be inspired and create their own compote at home. Using the finest ingredients and applying the right sugars, you could create next year’s best marmalade.

If you wish to contact Ragus for more information or if you have any questions, please contact a member of our customer services team on +44 (0)1753 575353 or enquiries@ragus.co.uk to find out more about how our high-quality, consistent and natural pure sugar products can enhance your application. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, follow Ragus on LinkedIn.