Scottish legends.


(Holidailies Day #15.)

As I typed that, I headed into blind-panic realising that I can’t afford Christmas this year unless my bank finds that lost money. Also, I am having a party and my house is still a tip. Yay.

The title does not refer to me.

So let’s focus on the (very) good. I am very lucky that my friend Jackie is a marmalade maker, which is not a terrifying confusing euphemism, but a straight-up fact. Every precious jar I am gifted is portioned out ridiculously carefully, so even though my current jar is about a year old, I still had a tiny bit to scrape into my favourite oatmeal concoction. Seriously, dried cranberries and marmalade. Give it a whirl.

I should be leaving for work very shortly, but this morning, I wondered about the connection between marmalade and Scotland, thinking it was some ancient technique of preserving citrus, which would have been a rarity, especially in the northern bits of Britain. Perhaps there was a shipwreck involved, probably near Dundee, hence why so many jars mention that city?


Dundee marmalade is a kind of marmalade that originated in a shop in Dundee run by Janet and James Keiller in the early 19th Century. It helped popularise that delicious, rindy goo in Scotland because their preserves were relatively affordable. There is a kind of shipwreck story which is still told and retold (in it, a Spanish sailor with a ship full of Seville oranges got stranded and had to sell his stock quickly), but it’s probably apocryphal.

Versions of citrus-based marmalade had been made in Britain for centuries before that. But, marmalade has its origins in quince-based stuff (quince preserved in honey as done in ancient Greece, as well as quince paste from Portugal). In Portugal, marmelada still refers to to this (quince in Portuguese is ‘marmelo’. Words with a similar root refer to any kind of jammish stuff made from fruit in many languages.

I was almost the opposite of right with the scarcity leading to preservation. They only started making sweetmeats and preserves out of oranges once they were a more regular product in the British Isles. Which, duh. A fresh orange must have been like expensive, rare candy so why would you hand it over, along with dozens of others.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.