Edwin Waldo Ward, Sr. was on a marmalade mission when he opened his namesake Sierra Madre canning and preserving company in 1917. The former New York-based luxury food salesman planted local Navel orange trees on his 30-acre property when he moved to California; he later imported Seville orange trees from Spain to make a tangier English-style marmalade. Nearly a century later, E. Waldo Ward's grandson, Richard, and his son Jeff, produce more than one-hundred products, including marmalade, jams and jellies, as well as relishes, fruit butters and stuffed olives.
But it's still the chunky, fruit-packed marmalade made the old fashioned, all-natural way without food coloring that are the best finds here. The original Seville orange marmalade is still made according to Edwin's recipe, and there are some interesting variations introduced by later Ward generations, including a gingery Valencia orange, blood orange, and Tangelo marmalade. You can find the marmalade at many specialty grocery stores around town or buy them online. But for a real taste of marmalade past (gingham check ribbons and all), it's worth the drive to Sierra Madre to sift through the wicker sampler baskets in the barn-turned-retail shop that Ward build on the family property in 1902.
E. Waldo Ward: 273 Highland Ave., Sierra Madre; (626) 355-1218.
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Look for more "Best of L.A." pieces in our annual Best of L.A. issue, coming Oct. 7th.