I was reading about the history of marmalade the other day (see http://www.dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk/cms/about-marmalade/the-history-of-marmalade.php for a useful summary of the origins of marmalade) and I was interested to see that it has its origins in a quince preserve, and that the word ‘marmalade’ developed from the Portuguese word for quince ‘marmelo’. There is a myth that the word marmalade was invented by the servants of Mary Queen of Scots when she was a child in France. The story goes that the little girl was ill while staying at her grandmother’s chateau in Joinville and the cook was looking for something to tempt her appetite because ‘Marie est malade’. When Mary became the Scottish queen she brought the recipe with her to Scotland and was very proud that it was named after her. Sadly, this more romantic origin for marmalade is not true (but it is a great story).
Marmalade has therefore been popular in the UK, in various guises, for centuries so it is not surprising that our own Mrs Beeton devotes a whole chapter to recipes for marmalade (Chapter 3 in Mrs Beeton’s Jam-making and Preserves). For Mrs Beeton making marmalade is more of a technique than a specific orange-based preserve and she includes recipes for marmalades made using a wide variety of fruit, including tomatoes! She provides four versions of an orange-based recipe – Marmalade I, Marmalade II (reproduced below), Orange Marmalade (Transparent) and Orange Marmalade with Honey.
ORANGE MARMALADE II
Have ready 24 Seville oranges, their weight in preserving sugar, and 2 pints of cold water.
Take off the rinds of the oranges, divide the pulp into small pieces, and remove the pips. Boil the rinds in water for 2 hours, changing it two or three times to reduce the bitter flavour; when quite tender, drain well, and shred them finely. Boil the sugar and water to a syrup, skimming well meanwhile, then add the pulp and shredded rinds. Boil gently for about ½ an hour, or until the marmalade sets quickly when tested on a cold plate, then pour into pots and cover down with paper brushed over on both sides with white of egg. Keep the marmalade in a cool, dry place until required for use.
The book also includes a recipe for Quince Marmalade and, harking back to the historical origins of marmalades, Mrs Beeton includes recipes for preserving oranges that are rarely made today. For example:
ORANGES AND LEMONS, TO PRESERVE WHOLE
To 1 lb. of oranges allow 2 lb. of sugar and 1 pint of water; to lemons add 3 lb. of sugar and 1½ pints of water.
At one end of each orange make a hole sufficiently large to admit a small spoon, and scoop out the pulp and juice. Cover the rinds with cold water, and let them remain for 3 days, changing the water two or three times daily. Drain, place them in the preserving-pan with sufficient cold water to cover them, simmer gently until tender, and drain well. Boil the sugar and water to a syrup, add the juice and pulp, boil gently for about 15 minutes, and pour the whole over the oranges. When quite cold, replace in the pan, simmer very gently for about ½ an hour, then turn into an earthenware vessel. On the following day boil up the syrup and pour it over the oranges; this process should be repeated on two or three consecutive days until the rinds are quite clear. Fill the oranges with syrup, place them in wide-necked jars, pour the remainder of the syrup over them, and cover closely. Store in a cool, dry place.
As described in a previous blog post (see http://www.wordstothewise.co.uk/blog/my-life-in-sandwiches-part-1), marmalade makes a delicious breakfast sandwich, particularly when eaten on a West Dorset beach. Of course a certain bear from darkest Peru had a penchant for marmalade sandwiches. Appropriately enough the new Paddington film was released at the beginning of marmalade season (in January) and it has received rave reviews. However, I don’t care how good the new film is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-d-V9jXYDE (and apparently it is great fun, even for grown-ups, particularly those grown-ups who loved the Paddington stories when they were children like me!), Paddington bear will always be this Paddington for me, narrated by the wonderful Michael Horden, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNZ3i9utHl4 Indeed, Michael Horden’s voice could be described as marmalade-like – rich and fruity!