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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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marmalade in Britain, refers to a jam-like preserve made from the bitter, or Seville, orange. The inclusion of the orange peel, cut into thin ‘chips’ or shreds, is characteristic of this preserve. ‘Marmalades’ based on other citrus fruits, such as lime or lemon, are made as is ginger marmalade. However, orange marmalade is perceived as the archetype (although not the prototype), and orange marmalade, with toast, is part of the 20th-century concept of the traditional English breakfast.

The evolution of marmalade is a complicated story, well told by C. Anne Wilson (1985a). Marmelada was the Portuguese name for a sweet, solid, quince paste (see quince preserves). This luxury good was imported to Britain by the late 15th century, to be used as a medicine or a sweetmeat. Clear versions were known as cotignac (France) or quiddony (England). Recipes for quiddonies and thick quince marmalades of this sort are frequent in 16th- and 17th-century English cookery books.