Yellow Man - In Season

Yellow Man - Auld Lammas FairNot exactly ‘in season’ of course, but the crunchy sweet, Yellow Man, is unique to Northern Ireland and - although it is also found on stalls at other country fairs and, nowadays, in the shops - this traditional toffee-like sweet is firmly associated with Lammas Fair, which is held at Ballycastle, Co Antrim, in late August and marks the end of the summer (24-25th August 2015).

The fair dates back to the 17th century and is connected with the harvest festivals of lunaghsa, held earlier in the month throughout Scotland and the Isle of Man as well as Ireland.
All sorts of things are sold at Auld Lammas Fair, which attracts thousands of visitors - but the most popular stalls are sure to be the ones selling Yellow Man and another, very different, traditional food that’s always been sold at the fair, the sea vegetable dulse, or dillisk (Rhodymenia palmate).

A famous maker of yellow-man was Dick Murray, of Lurgan who, it is said, sometimes put a ha'penny or two into it in its liquid state, and whoever found it could return it to him in exchange for more of his yellow-man which, he claimed, 'cured all diseases'.

Yellow ManRECIPE: This 'Modern Rendering' of the traditional recipe is the version I gave in my first book ‘Good Food From Ireland’ (Grafton Books/HarperCollins, 1991) and it’s from one of my favourite cookery books Florence Irwin's ‘The Cookin’ Woman’ published in 1949.

4 oz/l00g butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ lb/225g treacle
½ lb/225g golden syrup
1 lb/450g Demerara sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda

Melt the butter.

Add the vinegar, treacle, syrup and sugar.

Stir until it has melted, then bring to the boil.

Boil hard until a strand 'cracks' when tested in a saucer of cold water. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the soda.

When it foams up, stir again.

Pour into a greased tin.

Mark into squares when cool.

Store in an airtight tin when absolutely cold.

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