Taste test: What’s the best marmalade in East Anglia?
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We taste tested nearly 20 marmalades from Norfolk and Suffolk - these are the 10 we loved the best.
On the darkest, dreariest of days, when the sky is inky and cold creeps into every crevice of the house, there is one beacon of hope - marmalade.
Shining, jewel-like, at the breakfast table, a jar of marmalade, brought out in prime marmalade season, brings promise of spring days to come. A promise of lighter afternoons, dainty snowdrops, daffodils and sunshine.
I have to confess, I've always hated marmalade. As a kid it was either dayglow and sickly sweet, or so bitter and dark it felt like it should have been administered as some kind of medicine.
Having taste tested nearly 20 East Anglian marmalades though, I think I'm thoroughly won over, and there are several I'd happily spread over my toast. Here are the best!
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Essence Foods Lime Marmalade with Bergamot and Bay
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STAR BUY 10/10
Everyone raved about this one. Far from tasting of that foul lime cordial you get in some pubs, this had a subtle, refreshing flavour and a touch of tang. The bergamot and bay were a magical combination, bringing a mystical elegance to this preserve. I personally would love this sandwiched in a courgette cake, but everyone else wanted it slathered over buttered toast. Unlike any marmalade any of us had tried before.
Ollands Farm Foods Seville Orange Marmalade
Of all the pure Seville orange marmalades we tried this was the best. It had a light colour, soft texture and zippy nature with tonnes of fruit and a mouth-puckering orange juiciness to it. Another one to convince those marmalade naysayers.
Peachey's Preserves Lemon and Thyme Marmalade
An absolute stonker of a preserve. Unfortunately the jar we tasted hadn't set and was very runny which has held it back points wise, but wow, the flavour. Imagine a Sherbet Dib Dab, mixed with a glass of French lemonade, consumed as you wander through a herb garden. For me food starts with flavour, and this had it in spades. Loads and loads of lemon peel, no bitterness at all, and just that remarkably bright fizzy citrus taste. I was eating it out the jar with a spoon!
Thursday Cottage Blood Orange Marmalade
It tastes like the jelly bit in a Jaffa cake,' said one taster. 'I think it's like that blood orange San Pellegrino,' said another. Both were spot-on. This is a fantastic marmalade that, despite its chunky nature, could easily lure in a non-marmalade conformist. It is very juicy, with a fresh orange flavour. The peel is almost candied and very moreish.
Tiptree Orange Marmalade, Medium Cut
A good quality traditional marmalade with a nice set and spreadable consistency despite the sizeable chunks of fruit within the jar. It had a really fragrant orange peel aftertaste without being bitter. As one taster put it: 'It's just the ideal taste you want in your mouth when you leave the breakfast table''.
Ollands Farm Foods King Harry Marmalade
Infused with Norfolk Saffron's King Harry liqueur, this marmalade had a subtle initial flavour of saffron that just hit the tip of the tongue before giving way to a fresh, tangy orange bite. There was a hint of bitterness, but it was another good all-rounder.
Stokes Seville Orange Marmalade No7 Fine Cut
If you've been put off marmalade as a child, this is the one to go for. It has an almost neon orange colour, wibbly jelly set and a touch of sherbetty fizz about it. There's not as much character as some of the others, but no one will turn their nose up at this jar of sunshine.
Essence Foods Seville Orange and Lavender Marmalade
Floral flavours aren't for everyone, but here lavender met its match against bittersweet Seville orange, with a punchy, balanced taste that really worked. It's a pretty, gently set marmalade that should probably be served at afternoon tea, with dainty cakes and doilies.
Thursday Cottage Pink Grapefruit
A clear set, pretty marmalade that errs on the side of bittersweet. It's got bags of character and a flavour that builds and builds on every mouthful thanks to the pungent oils embedded in the grapefruit's skin. Very nice. Not my favourite but a good all-rounder.
Annee's Classic Orange Marmalade
A truly traditional preserve that's something akin to what most people's parents or grandparents might have made. Anne makes her marmalade with less sugar, and it's clearly been cooked slowly, giving it a sticky, almost chutney-like quality. The Northerner amongst us tasters (who prefers his marmalade like his tea - strong and dark) gave this the seal of approval. Its peppy flavour defied its darkness, but I'd say this one's for staunch marmalade fans only.