Recipes from Scotland 1680s to 1940s

Jams and preserves

The story of marmalade

A recipe book of 1683 from Dunrobin Castle, probably belonging to Helen, Countess of Sutherland, is devoted entirely to fruit preservation.

Of the 12 recipes, three are for marmalades.

One was a stiff quince preserve, in which the quinces were boiled in water until soft, and then boiled again with their weight in sugar. The others were for cherry and orange marmalades.

Oranges have been imported to Scotland from the 15th century. Like sugar, their cost put them beyond the purse of all but the very wealthy.

The recipe book gives instructions for preserving oranges whole, as well as for orange marmalade.

The Countess of Sutherland's orange marmalade was a beaten or smooth conserve in which the peel and pulp were boiled until soft and then pounded in a mortar. This stiff conserve would be poured into boxes rather than pots.

When needed, it was removed from the box and served in slices as a delicacy.

Handwritten recipe

'How to make orieng marmolet', from a recipe book probably of Helen, Countess of Sutherland

Recipe book probably belonging to Helen, Countess of Sutherland, née Cochrane, begun in 1683. By permission of the Countess of Sutherland. [Library reference: Dep.313/503]

Jams and preserves