Marmalade award joy for Geldeston woman

IT’S known as the sandwich filling of choice for Paddington Bear.

But while many instantly think of orange, the most famous resident of “Darkest Peru” could tell you that there are so many other types of marmalade.

And in Geldeston you can find a variety that is now officially among the world’s best.

Mandy Harrison, of Dunburgh Farm, first started selling pickled onions on the roadside three years ago, but in this short time her business has grown and now she can boast a prize-winning grapefruit and ginger marmalade.

Mrs Harrison entered her marmalade in The World’s Original Marmalade Awards and, despite competition from across Britain as well as Singapore, China, Australia and America, she was delighted when it was presented with a silver certificate in the artisan category.

It was the first time she had entered the Cumbria-based competition, which saw more than 1,700 jars of marmalade sent in for the artisan, amateur or bed and breakfast and hotel owner categories.

However, Mrs Harrison, 42, admitted she almost didn’t enter and needed the persuasion of others to do so.

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“My husband passed away on December 27 and my friends told me to send some jars off. It is all because they bullied me into it,” she said.

Mrs Harrison had run the farm, which is a Natural England Site of Special Scientific Interest, with her husband Paul for 15 years, but he died in December after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in January.

Today she continues to run the farm and makes 400 varieties of chutneys, mustards, marmalades and pickles under the name Mandy’s Pickles.

She admits she never dreamed it would reach that stage when she started three years ago.

“I had a horse livery yard and needed a new saddle so I thought I’d make some pickled onions and went from there. I still haven’t got my saddle,” she said.

Mrs Harrison initially sold from the roadside with a range of fresh produce, but two years ago she opened a shop on the farm.

In November 2010 her production was hit by a fire, but with a new pickle production room almost ready for use, she expects her production to increase again significantly, although she continues to use a traditional open pan method that means she fills no more than 15 jars at a time.

Despite this setback, she continues to come up with new recipes using local produce.

She said: “I specialise in natural ingredients, with no added preservatives or anything. I always source locally.”