Essential reading: Jane’s Top 10 Tips for Entrants to The World’s Original Marmalade Awards.

1) Do it now

The best Seville oranges begin to arrive into the shops after Christmas.  Make sure you take the opportunity to get the best of the batch.

2) Clean equipment

If you haven’t used your equipment since last year it is important to wash it thoroughly before use. You don’t want your hard work to be undermined by musky undertones. To create award winning marmalade it is important to pay attention to these small details. If you require new equipment I would recommend trying Pattesons Jars in Grimsby – www.jarsandbottles.co.uk.  They are a great supporter and official ‘business supporter’ of the Awards & Festival.

3) Plan your recipe

Decide what sort of marmalade you are going to make and how you would like it to taste. I invented my own recipe which I absolutely adore and produce every year. To find your own winning concoction, refine and practice your ideas before sending us the best.

4) Setting point

At Dalemain, our judges taste the marmalade blind; out of its jar or on a plain white saucer. It’s therefore important that it has set correctly. Don’t be tempted to overcook your marmalade into a solid, unpleasant lump. Have confidence in your recipe and remove it from the heat when it states that you should.

5) Settling time

Make sure that the peel doesn’t all rise to the top of your vessel. The best marmalade has pieces evenly spread throughout.  After your marmalade has reached its setting point leave it to settle in your preserving pan for 15 minutes before it is poured into a jar.

6) Jars

The design of your jar and label does not matter, unless you would like to enter our Marma-label competition. If you don’t, the only important point to consider is having a clean, sterilised jar: wash it in hot soapy water, rinse well and place upside-down in a warm/hot oven for about 30 minutes.

7) Send it early

Whilst the deadline for entries to be received by us here is February 14th, there is no point in leaving it until the last minute to send your marmalade. We have plenty of space to store your entries at Dalemain; many have arrived already, from across the world.

8) Filling in your entry form

Choose a category that describes your marmalade – or you – best. Personally, I would enter the Any Citrus Marmalade category because it is full of interesting, experimental marmalades which will prove difficult to beat. In order to be considered the Best in Show you must firstly win your category so, if you want to win, choose wisely.

9) Package securely

Please wrap your marmalade securely when sending it via post. Although it doesn’t happen often, it is still desperately sad when we open parcels only to find a broken jar and lumps of orange peel inside. Use bubble wrap or polystyrene chips to secure your jar within a small, good quality, well sealed cardboard box. Also, put your entry form inside the box along with a cheque- people often forget this.

10) Come and enjoy the Festival

After all the effort you have put into producing your marmalade, you have fully deserved a fun day out at the Dalemain World Marmalade Awards! Again, your entry fee will go to Hospice at Home, and while you’re here you can attend a demonstration or wokshop run by a professional, to help you improve your technique for next year!