Merry marmalade for Fi

Fi Bird's award-winning marmalade
Fi Bird's award-winning marmalade

Children’s food campaigner and author of Kids’ Kitchen, Fiona Bird was awarded first prize in the Merry section of the 2011 Marmalade Awards held last weekend in Cumbria.

Fi, who contributes regular children’s recipes in our popular Inspire supplement, was among the main prize-winners at the quirky awards at Dalemain Mansion near Penrith.

Environment Minister Lord Henley was crowned this year’s best marmalade maker at The World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival.

Commenting on her top award, Fi said: “I make Seville Orange marmalade each January, using my grandmother, Dorothy Murray’s recipe.

“I boil the marmalade in a Murray family preserving pan which belonged to my grandfather’s great aunt.

“This year, for the first time, I added Cointreau after the rolling boil and some bay leaves as I poached the Sevilles.

“I chose bay leaves because my bay tree is one of the few garden herbs to have survived this cold Scottish winter.”

Over 1,100 marmalade makers from all over the world sent in their jars to be judged, a record number. Other winners included a team of 11 marmalade makers from Buninyong in Australia who had challenged a team from Britain to a ‘MarmalAshes’ contest, a man from the British Virgin Islands who scooped the International award and a commercial maker from Ludlow who was awarded best artisan. Over 150 Guides also helped to make the world’s largest jar of marmalade at the Cumbrian event.

Organiser Jane Hasell-McCosh said: “The standard of entries has gone up hugely and we have been overwhelmed by the number. We’ve also seen a marked increase in entries sent in from all parts of the UK and from abroad, countries as far afield as Japan and Australia. It’s been a fantastic success.”

Judging for the categories was undertaken by members of the local WI as well as a prestigious panel of judges including food historian Ivan Day, Robert Parker from Tiptree, Tim Came, MD of Thursday Cottage and Dan Lepard, award-winning baker and Guardian food writer.