Cumbria’s Dalmain Mansion and Gardens has been the home of the Hasell-McCosh Family for eleven generations and since 2005 it has been home to the quirky marmalade awards. The goal of the awards was that of preserving the traditional British custom of making marmalade. They have grown from humble beginnings first attracting around 60 entries to now inspiring people from all over the world to participate and attracting thousands of entries.

 

Competition is stiff and the panel of judges certainly know their marmalade.  This year received a record number of Artisan entries, with over 30 countries sending in their jars. Indeed 2017 has been another triumphant year for marmalade and one in which I was proud to be involved in.

 

Over the years I have made allsorts of marmalade and have had great fun experimenting with flavours. Indeed when I was looking through some photographs earlier in the week I came across lots of images of me making marmalade with Hattie and Libby before they were of school age. Indeed the girls have grown and so to have my marmalade making efforts.  My first entry to the World’s Original Marmalade Awards consisted of just one type of marmalade, a very nice pineapple and Seville orange number, it didn’t win any prizes, but I learned an awful lot about what the judges were looking for from this first entry.

This year I entered nine types of marmalade and received 7 certificates, four of these were silver awards. I was thrilled to receive not only certificates, but glowing commendations from the judges. The judges praises were especially important to me as the Artisan judges for 2017 were a prestigious panel of food industry experts, including Sam Rosen-Nash from Fortnum & Mason and Dan Lepard, food writer and baking guru.

 

This year I finally managed to get to the awards. It was a long drive from West Wales to Penrith, and the weather was sadly rather wet and windy, but I was delighted to finally collect my certificates in person and to briefly speak with Jane Hassell-McCosh the founder of the awards.

 

The guest of honour at the festival was the Japanese Ambassador, who was delighted to attend and taste the many Japanese entries ahead of plans for a Dalemain sister festival of Marmalade in Japan. Indeed it seems that the Japanese have a real flair for making marmalade and they have had great success at the awards.

For the entire weekend the rain lashed down and the weather was so bad that the car park at Dalemain had to be closed at10am on the Saturday, as five cars had already got stuck in the mud, however, there was still a fantastic atmosphere at the event and marmalade makers and enthusiasts from around the country and indeed globe gathered to celebrate the wonder that is marmalade.

 

Speaking of this years awards Jane Hasell-McCosh, said: “It has been wonderful to see how people’s love of marmalade has created a passionate community all around the world. It has been a great honour and joy to welcome so many marmalade makers to my home in Cumbria in celebration of such a well loved preserve’’

 

Clutching my award certificates and a jar or two of marmalade made by other award winners it was time for me to head off  home, but I did so with thoughts of marmalade whirling around my head and ideas for next years entries already forming.

 

My challenge now, will be to scale up my marmalade making and get it stocked in some nice farm shops and delicatessens. I am currently working on my revised labels, that will now sport the award winning roundel and I am holding high hopes for other competitions I am entered into this. Let’s hope that 2017 continues to be a winning year for my rather boozy marmalade.

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen