Great British Bake-off 2019 champion David Atherton to judge the Dalemain Marmalade Awards

SEATED at a table cluttered with glass jars, Great British Bake-Off star David Atherton selects one and holds it aloft, slowly swirling it as it glows amber in the light.

Then, armed with a spoon, the 2019 champion lifts the lid of the sterilized jar and with great concentration inhales the aroma before tasting the contents.

It’s the judges’ room for the World’s Original Marmalade Awards, an annual event at Dalemain Mansion, near Penrith, and David, 39, is the guest judge of what has now become a household name around the world.

“This place is so atmospheric. There are hundreds of marmalade jars of all shapes and sizes in a large room with a log fire, glowing lambs and tables. It’s wonderful,” says David.

“I love marmalade. As a kid, we had a huge garden with lots of berries and we made a lot of different jams. Now I always make a batch of marmalade, but I give it away, because I like to try other peoples,” he added.

After 17 years, judging has become a fine art.

This year, organizers received more than 3,000 entries from canning enthusiasts around the world, including Japan, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland and Taiwan, to name a few. Much of the world is in the throes of marmalade fever fueled by this eccentric competition.

This year the pots have arrived in all sorts of ways: hand-delivered in baskets, by a range of couriers, at the Marmalade Exchanges, on the Marmalade Highway and the Marmalade Railway Express. The modes of transport are interesting and varied, just like the marmalade itself!

Judge Will Torrent examines a jar of marmalade: Photo: Stuart Walker Photography 2022

This year, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was commemorated by some attendees with tags and jars bearing the longtime monarch’s name. A pot arrived with its own crown; a marmalade worthy of the Queen!

In all categories, participants experience the form in skin. Organizers saw star shapes, love hearts, bells, squirrels and fish.

“People might think marmalade is marmalade, but it’s amazing how many different types there are. We have it with alcohol, although we’re more likely to end up sugar drunk,” David said.

Each entry has a scorecard and is judged on appearance, texture and flavor, with points available for absence of stains on jar, color, brightness, skin distribution, jar filled to capacity. ‘top, balance of jelly to peel, set, peel size, peel texture, flavor balance, acidity balance, length on the finish and ‘overall harmony’.

“It’s a first for me. Marmalade is a very British thing, but we have starters from as far away as Japan, which I believe have over 200 citrus fruits. It was great fun and after a while , your mouth is itchy.” tasting”, adds David.

Last year, nine-year-old Flora Rider’s orange and orange blossom marmalade was crowned Best in Show, becoming the youngest winner ever.

“This year, there has been an increase in the number of registrants in the Octogenarians & Seniors category, say the organizers. “A lady has always made marmalade, when she unfortunately died at the start of the year, her friend “inherited” his Seville oranges and participated in the Marmalade Awards on his behalf. An important medium that can keep memories alive.”

News and Star: Jane Stuart-Smith reviews an entry.  Image: Stuart Walker Photography 2022Jane Stuart-Smith examines an entry. Image: Stuart Walker Photography 2022

Winners will be announced during the Marmalade Festival on Saturday, May 14 in Dalemain, when winners can display their “gold, silver or bronze awards” on their jars.

.The jams can receive a mention, a bronze medal, a silver medal or a gold medal. Those with the highest marks are then retried: there is a Best in Show awarded to the best homemade marmalade and a “Double Gold” prize awarded to a handful of the best in all categories.

The winner of the best homemade marmalade is sold in the London department store Fortnum & Mason.

In 2021, Rathbones sponsored the First Timers category, and this year is sponsoring a second category: ‘Rathbones Next Generation’.

Richard Dawson, Kendal Regional Manager, said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship of the World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival.

What started for Rathbones as a way to support local businesses in Cumbria, brought colleagues from Aberdeen to Exeter during lockdown, many of us making marmalade for the first time.

“We are proud to put our name in a new category this year with Rathbones Next Generation Marmalade. We hope the younger generation will have as much fun making marmalade as we do, especially as the profits support such a good cause”

The full £10 entry fee goes directly to palliative care charities and so far the Marmalade Awards have raised over £270,000 for palliative care.

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