Singapore marmalade wins award

Ms Sharon Lee, owner of Straits Preserves, with her Ginger Garden marmalade.
Ms Sharon Lee, owner of Straits Preserves, with her Ginger Garden marmalade. PHOTO: STRAITS PRESERVES

An artisanal marmalade made by Singapore label Straits Preserves has struck gold at the World’s Original Marmalade Awards, held three weeks ago.

The home-grown label won for its Ginger Garden marmalade, a zesty lime and grapefruit-based preserve spiced with ginger, turmeric and cardamom.

The awards received about 3,000 entries this year from more than 30 countries, including first-timer entries from Lebanon, Sudan and Switzerland. Straits Preserves’ marmalade was one of 55 gold winners in the Artisan category, open to marmalade producers.

This is the first gold win for the brand in the 12-year-old international marmalade-making competition that is held in Cumbria, Britain, every year.

The Ginger Garden marmalade, which was launched last year, was inspired by the Ginger Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which collaborated with Ms Sharon Lee, 44, owner of Straits Preserves, on the concoction. The three spices used are from the ginger family. There are more than 500 species growing in the gardens.

Ms Lee had also submitted the Ginger Garden marmalade to the competition last year. It won a silver award.

For this year’s contest, she tweaked the ginger blend in the marmalade by adding an Indonesian ginger, which “has a spicier kick and a more powerful aroma and taste”.

This updated recipe has already been introduced to the marmalades that she produces here.

On her victory, she says: “It is nice that a marmalade inspired by my country gets recognised.”

She adds that with more countries taking part in the competition, the way that marmalade is being made and enjoyed is evolving.

More unconventional ingredients have been introduced, such as chocolate and chilli, instead of the traditional Seville oranges.

The panel of 13 judges, including marmalade and jam experts and food critics, commended the marmalade for its “good ginger colour and notes, excellent aroma and set (texture). Perfect. Just what you’d want in a ginger preserve”.

Ms Lee says: “Participating in these competitions is the best way to get professional feedback from the experts in Britain, where there is a long history of making marmalade.”

Three other marmalades that she submitted under the Straits Preserves label – Singapore Sling, Spice Island and Tropical Calamansi – bagged silver awards.

Ms Lee got into producing marmalade through a “happy accident”.

A former owner of a product innovation company, she started making marmalade in 2011 to use up an abundant harvest from her potted calamansi plants.

She entered her calamansi marmalade into the World’s Original Marmalade Awards in 2012 and clinched a gold award in the Homemade category.

The win, coupled with a lack of Asian marmalade flavours here, led her to start Straits Preserves in 2014, after two years spent sourcing for suppliers and scaling up her recipes with help from Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre.

These days, the company produces “a few hundred jars” of marmalade weekly, made and bottled in a cooking facility.

They can be bought online (go to www.straitspreserves.com for a list of online retailers) and from more than 10 stores such as Naiise and Isetan Scotts supermarket. Each 220g jar costs $15.

Ms Lee says the majority of her customers are tourists who buy the marmalades as food souvenirs.

Her marmalades have received other accolades. Last year, the Tropical Calamansi and Ginger Garden marmalades were given two-star ratings in the Great Taste Awards, which honours artisanal food and drink products, and is organised by British-based The Guild of Fine Food.

Ms Lee hopes to showcase the versatility of marmalades, saying that they can be used in cocktails, as a glaze for roast meats and stirred into tea as a sweetener.

“People can find new and exciting ways to enjoy it and, hopefully, the love of marmalade keeps growing.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore marmalade wins award'. Print Edition | Subscribe