Call for action from UK’s breakfast tables to stop orchard decline

THE UK’s traditional breakfast preserve could be at risk if urgent steps to save the bitter orange groves in Seville are not taken, according to organisers of The World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival.

Many orange groves across Seville have been abandoned or destroyed due to a decline in demand for the bitter fruit. So festival organisers are urging marmalade makers across the UK to rally their fellow cooks, raise their wooden spoons and get their jam pans on to ‘Save the Seville’.

“This really is a drama on the marmalade front!” said organiser Jane Hasell-McCosh, who will be running the 9th World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival at Dalemain in Cumbria on 1 & 2 March 2014. “Seville oranges have been part of our lives for hundreds of years and if the orchards are lost what will happen to the breakfast tables of the UK? We need to save and celebrate the Seville otherwise we’re in real danger of losing them.”

Entries are now open for the awards, which hail the preserve in all its sticky glory. The first jar has already arrived at Dalemain, arriving by coach! The closing date for entries is 13th February 2014. Everyone who enters a jar gets their preserve tasted and judged by experts, and then gets sent a personalised mark card with feedback on how the marmalade can be improved – or if they are lucky, a gold, silver or bronze award. Last year over 1,900 jars were entered. The double gold star winner gets their marmalade made by a commercial kitchen and is then stocked at Fortnum & Mason – and 50p from every jar sold goes to charity.

There are 11 categories to enter in the competition and, as well as traditional classes such as ‘Seville’, ‘Children’s’ and ‘Novice’, there are four new ones for 2014:

‘Dramatic’ for actors who hold an Equity card to mark the start of filming for the new Paddington Bear film
‘WI’ for those who aspire to the high standards set by the Women’s Institute using a set recipe with set rules
‘Organic Orange’ to champion the fruit from the growers in Spain trying to save the Seville
Citrus with interesting, locally-grown additions (Jane grows her own lemons!)
Jane said: “I believe that all marmalade makers will readily rise to the challenge. We must save this fruit and support the growers.

“Recently I visited one grower in Seville who has been exporting oranges to England since the 1960s. Dora Gahona Fraga is now 75 and still runs the business and also makes very good marmalade! She and her daughters run the orchard and the export sales. Her mission is to save lost orange groves which are being grubbed up and destroyed and she is now bringing them back to health – she rents the orchards from disinterested owners and then goes to work on pruning and replanting and irrigating the old and dead trees and maintaining an organic, chemical free environment.”

The Awards & Festival are sponsored by Fortnum & Mason, Paddington, Mackays and wine merchants Laithwaite’s – all UK family-owned businesses. The awards raise money for two worthwhile charities: Hospice at Home and Action Medical Research for children, with proceeds from amateur entry fees going direct to charity. Since the contest was launched nine years ago by Jane, over £120,000 has been raised for charities and this year anyone entering from Scotland can put their entry fee towards Marie Curie Scotland

Of course the most famous marmalade lover of them all, Paddington Bear presides over the Festival itself making guest appearances and readings from his adventures. Visitors to the Marmalade Festival (1 & 2 March 2014), held at Dalemain Mansion, near Penrith in the Lake District, get the chance to view the entries, taste over 200 different marmalades, attend workshops, lectures and even a marmalade church service and the whole event will be well rooted in the Spanish Seville.

The event kicks off National Marmalade Week (1-8 March 2014), overseen by the awards’ organisers, which encourages people to try, buy or make marmalade – and Save the Seville!

Jane added: “So get yourself focused, remember the wrinkle test and buy your oranges fresh. Don’t forget the lovely scrunchy sound as the sugar and fruit reach exactly the right rolling boil and then why not tell us all about it on Facebook or Twitter or email us direct with photos of you in marmalade making mode.”

Closing date for entries is 13th February 2014. Further entry details including an entry form, category criteria, submission details and entry fees can be found at


Last changed: Oct 09 2013 at 1:50 PM