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Marmalade: oranges are not the only fruit

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Emily Angle Emily Angle | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 13 January 2012

It's that time of year when the world falls in love with marmalade. Pupils dilate with excitement when the word goes round that the Seville oranges are in the shops.  Jars are scavenged from the back of the fridge, washed free of mouldy pesto and soaked to remove the labels. The largest pot is hauled from the back of the cupboard and the house is filled with the citrus smell that I equate with perfect happiness.

Seville oranges

Taking the pith: Are Seville oranges necessary for marmalade? 

Or not. There has always been an underground scene of alternative marmalade: partly for novelty, partly because of the limited availability of Sevilles.  Quite often because the tongue-numbing tang of bitter orange marmalade is just too strong.

Of course, bitter orange was itself once an alternative marmalade – the spread was originally made in Portugal with quinces. The story is that a merchant’s wife, faced with a shipment of inedible bitter oranges, tried to make the best of things by dousing them in sugar and a long slow cooking. (What was that first breakfast like? Did they make endless rounds of toast, deliriously excited?)

If you’re like me, and Seville orange marmalade is so ubiquitous at breakfast, you’ll wonder why to bother. But there are plenty of uses for a burst of the bright sharpness that defines all marmalades. Quickbreads and muffins often need a lift of citrus so they don’t get too claggy - marmalade makes a lovely syrupy topping or filling. One friend serves her lime marmalade with coconut bread – utterly made for each other. Likewise, it makes a welcome addition to cakes – as a glaze, melted down as a brushing syrup, or as a flavoursome substitution for golden syrup or corn syrup.  Imagine a clementine marmalade in this bread and butter pudding.
The gutsiness of marmalade means that it can work equally well in salty, savoury dishes. Dipping sauces can be made from a little tangy marmalade mixed with soy sauce and chilli, or they can go into a stir-fry sauce for a sweet and sour zing.  Quince marmalade – and its Spanish counterpart, membrillo – are perfect with salty cheese as a tapa or in a sandwich. Coat your roast parsnips or bake sausages in it, or glaze a ham with it.

So now you’ve got no excuse to avoid getting in the kitchen this weekend with your big spoon and your jam funnel. Here’s a round-up of the internet’s finest alt.marmalades.
Disclaimer – quite a few of these recipes are in US cups. A rough guideline – 250g sugar = 1 cup.

Do you make alternative marmalade? What flavours would you like to try?

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