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Marmalade – an essential part of Azerbaijan’s tea culture

Marmalade – an essential part of Azerbaijan’s tea culture
Especially beneficial during winter months, marmalade has its own special place in promoting our country

"Add 2 teaspoons of cornelian cherry marmalade to a cup of tea and drink it. See how your sickness goes away."
I remember, this is what my grandmother would say when I was a child. She would make us drink cornelian cherry marmalade in tea as soon as we coughed. She would advise my mother to cook a lot of marmalade to prepare well for winter. In fact, my grandmother was right. One of the most exquisite type of dessert served with tea to guests in winter, maybe the most important, is marmalade. When you drink tea without marmalade, it is as if it has no taste.
In depth, the tradition of cooking marmalade dates back to ancient times. Today, this tradition is widespread. Marmalade is now also prepared from vegetables as well as fruits. For example, eggplant, tomato, red chili pepper, carrot marmalade. There are also those who cook marmalade from olives, and walnuts. You may not believe it but it is even possible to cook pine cone marmalade. Apparently, marmalade is of great importance to Azerbaijan. It is regarded as one of the most important types of food in promoting the country to the world. The biggest indication of this is the marmalade festival held here.
It is interesting, what are the benefits of such a wide spread of marmalade, how long can cooked fruit be stored, and do fruits retain their vitamins after being cooked?
Professor Adil Geybulla, a medical expert, said that patients with diabetes are not advised to eat marmalade. "Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from sugar and other components. The fruits are boiled with sugar and stored in jars. Any product can lose its quality over a certain period of time, including marmalade. The sugar crystallizes as it changes its form. This is especially true of cornelian cherry marmalade. Thus, marmalade also has an expiration date. It is best to store marmalade in a cool place after cooking. Of course, marmalade is the most common type of dessert our people eat with tea. But patients with diabetes are not advised to eat marmalade due to the glucose in it,” he noted.
The expert said that it is more desirable to eat marmalade during winter. "In general, when it comes to the benefits of marmalade, it certainly has a lot of positive effects on the human body. The biologically active substances and vitamins remain preserved in the marmalade and enter the body when consumed. True, marmalade is now eaten in every season but it is more sensible to consume it during winter. Because most fruit is already available in its natural form with all the vitamins that we need. In winter, eating marmalade can prevent vitamin deficiencies. Some marmalade have significant health benefits. For example, cornelian cherry, raspberry marmalade is used to strengthen the immune system during colds. In other words, these types of marmalade are part of ancient Turkish medicine,” the expert noted.
According to Jeyran Alasgarova, Deputy Director of Azerbaijan’s National Culinary Center, marmalade is an essential part of the Azerbaijani tea culture. "Marmalade is not just preserved fruits and vegetables, but an integral part of the Azerbaijani cuisine and tea culture. We definitely drink tea with marmalade. Let me point out that there are several types of marmalade. Some are expensive as their cooking process is a little more complicated, and their raw commodities are also expensive. For instance, walnuts, olives, apricots. Then there are some that are a bit cheaper, too, such as watermelon and eggplant marmalade. Marmalade is even sometimes priced accroding to the type of tableware it is offered in. The ones I mentioned earlier are offered in high bowls that have stands, where as the cheaper ones come in low bowls with no stands,” she said.   
We also asked the proper way of using marmalade. "No matter how much the fruit is cooked, it retains some of its nutritional value and vitamins that are essential for eating in winter. Marmalade should not be consumed in excessive amounts. It is not recommended to eat it more than once daily. Too much consumption may cause harm to the human body,” she added.
According to the Deputy Director, there is specially prepared marmalade unique to Azerbaijan which has casued interest in world countries. "Some fruit is only grown in Azerbaijan and only we prepare marmalade from it. For example, acca sellowiana (feijoa). We take our marmalade with us when travelling abroad, and it is of great interest to foreigners. Also, noting walnut marmalade which is also unique to our country. In this regard, marmalade, as a part of our national culinary, plays a big role in the promotion of our country ,” she said.
Gunel Azade



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