Country mouse on the cult of marmalade

Marmalade is liquid gold or it may as well be, judging by the passion it inspires among the British, and, more particularly, a group of enthusiasts led by Lady Marmalade herself, Jane Hasell-McCosh.

The World’s Original Marmalade Festival at Dalemain House, Cumbria (, in aid of Hospice at Home, may only be a gentle hum among amateurs and professionals now, but, mark my words, that hum will grow into a roar.

I travelled north by train to judge the Citrus Marmalade category along with Jonathan Miller of Fortnum & Mason watching the dawn break over Cheshire and light flood the lakes and peaks, thawing my concrete-numbed soul, before Mungo McCosh (artist and illustrator) scooped me up at Penrith station. At the show, trestle tables laid with white saucers filled with marmalade shone in the morning light pouring through the long windows.

I quickly picked up the lingo, and ‘citric notes, full-bodied and sharp finish’ began to trip off my tongue. It was with some shock then that we awarded our gold to a Spanish marmalade made with kumquats. It’s time for British marmalade makers to fight back. Next January, lay in a stock of oranges and lemons and get cooking!