Marmalade: A Bittersweet Cookbook by Sarah Randall

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Reviewed by Hayley Anderton

There is a not very scientific argument that claims that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. Not for me though; it’s a time when I can reasonably expect to see Seville oranges for sale and as an enthusiastic maker of marmalade that’s something to look forward to.

Sevilles may not be the most attractive citrus fruit on the shelf but they’re probably the most rigidly seasonal, and the short window of opportunity to buy them comes just as the evenings are getting noticeably longer, so to me they’re also a promise of spring around the corner. But enough of my personal marmalade obsession and onto the book.

This is both the perfect introduction to marmalade if you’re flirting with the idea of making your own, and extremely useful for anyone who makes more than they can personally use on toast. The introduction includes a history of marmalade, which makes interesting reading, a list of necessary kit, and then it’s on to a collection of recipes.

The kit list is a short one – it’s one of the nice things about this kind of preserving. All you really need and might not automatically have around the house are jars and muslin. There is a handy list of suppliers for jars included if you’d rather buy than recycle or if you want something prettier for presents.

First up there is a collection of marmalades, starting with the classic Seville before moving on to other citrus fruits and even quinces. There are also plenty of suggested variations on the general theme, which is all very inspiring.

My problem is that I always have more marmalade than I use (a recent clear out of cupboards yielded a grand total of 30 jars). It makes a great present but there are limits, and this is why I’m really excited by this book. It’s full of recipes for all sorts of delicious-looking things that use the stuff as an ingredient. Organised into chapters for breakfast and brunch, lunch and supper, puddings, tea time, and finally drinks and cocktails there will be something for everybody (there are lots of things for me).

It’s maybe irrelevant but it’s also a beautifully produced book; nice size, nice to hold, lovely to look at – basically an all round pleasure. Combined with the practical contents and engaging tone it’s a winner, a perfect companion to start the new (cooking) year with.

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Hayley Anderton blogs at Desperate Reader

Sarah Randell, Marmalade A Bitter Sweet Cookbook (Salt Yard Books: London, 2014) 978-1-444-78432-9, 184pp, hardback.

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