2014 Marmalade Awards
Date Posted: 5th March 2014A South Shropshire food producer has cemented its place as one the best marmalade producers in the world.
The World Marmalade Festival takes place at the Dalemain Mansion, Penrith, Cumbria and sees entries from all over the world. Over 2000 marmalade makers sent in their jars to be judged, a 20 per cent increase on last year, proving that recent concerns over the demise of marmalade are completely unfounded. The marmalade team at Ludlow Food Centre exceeded expectation by winning two gold awards and two silver awards.
Food Centre producers Darren Marsh and Tess Slater have won more marmalade awards than any other artisan producer proving they make some of the best commercially available marmalade in the world. They make 7 varieties of marmalade and all have won at least one World Marmalade Award. This year they won gold awards for their Hand Cut Seville Orange Marmalade and their slightly more unusual Lemon & Lime variety. In addition they picked up two sliver awards for their Lady Windsor and Three Fruit varieties. Commenting on their success Darren said,
‘We never expected to become known for making marmalade but over the years we have built up quite a reputation. It is always nice to get recognition for the work we do and we are really proud to have won awards against such tough competition.’
Darren and Tess met whilst working at Tesco in Ludlow and applied for jobs working on the Food Centre’s delicatessen. Their interest in food production was rewarded with a place in the Centre’s jam and pickle kitchen where they were trained to make over 30 varieties of preserves. Where possible they use local ingredients from Shropshire and its surrounding counties but for marmalade they go a step further, (Darren explains)
‘We actually source our Seville Oranges from a single cooperative in Spain. We know the growers and we know their quality and attention to detail is paramount. We certainly have our own way of making marmalade but the quality of the raw ingredients is crucial in the process.’
For their efforts the duo have had their marmalade accepted in to London specialist food store, Fortnum and Mason. Fortnum’s have stocked a wide variety of Food Centre marmalade since they won their first award five years ago. This year they have chosen to go with the slightly more unusual Lemon & Lime variety. Jane Hasell-McCosh, organiser of the marmalade awards believes that new and unusual varieties of marmalade are what is keeping sales afloat,
“We’ve been surprised and delighted not only by the sheer number of entries into this year’s competition – which exceeds last year – but also by the range of interesting and sometimes downright unusual ingredients that you wouldn’t normally associate with marmalade. I believe this reflects the resurgence in popularity in marmalade designed to satisfy modern taste buds.
Whilst everyone appreciates a good, traditional Seville orange marmalade, our broadening food repertoire is leading us to create a plethora of new marmalade flavours for future generations to enjoy. Long live marmalade in whatever form!”