Forgotten Foods: Use Them or Lose Them
Ancient Grains: What are they?
Why is everyone talking about them? And what do we do with them? Grains like barley, millet and spelt have become popular over recent years, as have pseudo-grains like quinoa and buckwheat. Because they are grown less intensely than standard cereal crops like rice, wheat and corn, they create a more diverse crop rotation and diet for us, plus they are popular with vegetarians and vegans looking for alternative sources of protein. There are a couple of Scottish so-called ancient grains though that have our attention.
We love shining a light on artisan producers at Fresh Food Express - the guys who are growing and breeding using traditional, sustainable methods, handed down through generations - who without your support could potentially disappear. We also know how our FFE customers like to get cooking from scratch, and both of these grains are officially on the endangered food list so this week we're looking at Beremeal and Peasemeal - ancient Scottish grains which are rare and special. Get to know them better and enjoy some simple recipes and tips on how to cook with them.
Bere is an ancient, genetically pure variety of barley which is kiln dried, providing and earthy, nutty flavour and then stone ground to create a creamy coloured whole flour - Beremeal. It dates back to around 2000BC and is only grown these days in the far north of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, and the Western Isles. Beremeal makes excellent traditional Scottish bannocks and blinis and adds flavour and texture to other baking. We're loving Neil Forbes' (chef at Café St honour Edinburgh) super-simple Beremeal Bannock recipe on Oh! Taste. And for recipes straight from one of our producers, take a peek at Golspie Mill's recipe page.
Peasemeal (as the name suggests) is made from roasted yellow field peas. It is a protein-rich alternative to wheat, oatmeal and barleymeal, and more versatile too - from making brose and bannocks to noodles, soup and pate. We found some innovative uses for peasemeal, with Slow Food chef Paul Wedgwood coming up with an Asian peasemeal noodles recipe. Or for something a bit more traditional, Red Book Recipes offers bannocks and brose.
Thankfully both of these ingredients (which also happen to be low gluten) are enjoying a renaissance, as top chefs and whole food outlets bring them into the public's consciousness. One of our artisan suppliers, Golspie Mill, produces both of these. In fact, they are the only remaining producer of Peasemeal in the UK. One of the few remaining water mills in the country, they refurbished in 1992 and have been traditionally producing Peasemeal, Beremal, Wheat, Oats and Rye ever since.
Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe
Scottish Hebridean Lamb Kofta Kebab BBQ Recipe
If you like to put a little more effort in to your BBQ food than just throwing a burger on the grill, then these lamb kofta kebabs should float your boat. Really simple and quick to put together, but delicious enough to earn the praise of your guests. Koftas are a popular Middle Eastern dish and can be made from a variety of meats. We think our Hebridean lamb lends itself well to these spices.
Ingredients (makes four kebabs):
Finely chopped chilli - optional (how much depends on how hot you like it – seeds = hot)
1 tspn cumin
2 tspn paprika
1 tspn ground coriander
1 garlic clove crushed
Salt and pepper
Fresh coriander - optional
You'll need four long BBQ skewers (metal is best)
Lay out the lamb mince on a plastic chopping board – spread out until flat and thin. Sprinkle all of your ingredients over the top, then smoosh and smoosh through your fingers until you’re happy that it’s all mixed in well.
There are two ways to shape these. You can choose the skewer method or shape them into mini oval patties. Either will work, and different recipes choose different methods. It's a preference thing. Here's the skewer method...
Split the mixture in to four and begin shaping the first lump in to an oval sausage shape. Then insert the skewer at one end and carefully, evenly thread it all the way through the sausage. You can then shape it a little further until you’re happy that it will stay in place during cooking and that it’s the right size and thickness.
BBQ them for a few minutes each side. When they’re done sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander on top and serve alongside a summer salad, griddled red peppers and some cucumber raita, which you can trust Delia Smith with. You can even sprinkle on some crushed pistachios for a luxurious finish.
WE ARE HIRING
JOB ADVERTISEMENT: PART TIME PACKHOUSE COORDINATOR
Fresh Food Express Limited is looking for someone to run our packhouse operation in Inverkeilor, Angus. We are a small but growing business who are passionate about changing the food system for the better by bridging the gap between small local producers of high quality fresh food and consumers nationwide and so the more passion you have for good food, the better you’ll fit in.
As the last point of contact with our producers’ high quality local food before it reaches our customers, we need you to be an organised, methodical, self-starter who can think on your feet, with very strong attention to detail and a willingness to take ownership of the role and its responsibilities.
You will be responsible for all aspects of the day to day operation of the packhouse, including:
· Receiving inbound deliveries - ensuring what has been delivered matches the orders placed in terms of both quantity and quality and if necessary, breaking bulk including appropriate weighing & labelling.
· Picking and Packing - ensuring all goods are picked and packed with respect, precision and an appropriate amount of packaging
· Quality Control – identifying any goods that are not up standard
· Wastage – identifying goods that are near their sell-by date and completing the related paperwork
· Packaging – managing stocks of packaging including completing the related paperwork
· Despatch – ensuring all packages match the relevant customer order and meet courier requirements as regards, size, labelling etc. and readiness on time.
· Cleanliness - Ensuring the packhouse provides a safe workplace at all times, including keeping it well organised, clean and tidy
· Food Safety - adhering to our protocols, including completing and safeguarding environmental health paperwork on schedule
The ideal candidate will be:
· happy to handle our entire product range, which includes vac-packed meat, seafood and alcohol
· comfortable working to tight deadlines
· fit enough to handle weights up to 18kg
· happy working independently and sometimes on your own
· able to work very extended hours / days for the two weeks before Xmas.
· available to start on or before Tuesday 22nd May.
· hold a current Elementary Food Hygiene Qualification
· have experience of computerised stock control methods
although these are not essential as full training will be given.
16 hours per week, with some potential for overtime as follows
· Tue 1.00 – 5.15
· Wed 9.00 – 5.00 (including 30 minutes for lunch unpaid)
· Thu 10.00 – 2.15
· £8/hr over 21s (£6/hr under 21s)
· 30% staff discount on all full price Fresh Food Express goods
· 11 days and 1.5 hours of holiday (i.e. 28 days pro-rata) including compulsory New Year shutdown
To apply, please send your CV with a covering letter to Jillian at email@example.com.
Applications will close at midnight on Sunday 13 May.
Interviews will be held in Inverkeilor on or after Tuesday 15 May.
Although we will endeavour to respond to every application, you should consider you application to have been unsuccessful if you have not heard from us by close of business on Friday 18 May.
4 of the Best Scottish Porridges Worthy of a Golden Spurtle
This week, we are celebrating the 24th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships, which is taking place in the Scottish Highlands village of Carrbridge. The oaty cook-off draws competitors from across the globe to compete for the coveted Golden Spurtle trophy and title of “World Porridge Making Champion". We deliver some of Scotland's finest oats to porridge connoisseurs worldwide, so we've put together 4 of our best Scottish Porridges worthy of a golden spurtle here:
1. Medium Organic Oatmeal by Golspie Mill, Sutherland
Golspie Mill's ever-popular medium-ground oatmeal is makes traditional porridge perfection. Die-hard fans for this Scottish porridge rave about its nutty texture and complex flavour profiles. It's also fantastic toasted to make Cranachan, and makes most crumbly oatcakes.
Based in Sutherland in the north of Scotland, Golspie Mill is one of very few traditional water-powered mills remaining in production in Scotland. Built in 1863 as an estate meal mill, it was fully restored in 1992 and has been producing specialist meals and flours using traditional methods (and renewable energy!) ever since. Many of their products are organic and wholesome and all of them are entirely free from additives and made with pure, milled whole grains and pulses. Golspie Mill is also a member of the Traditional Corn Millers Guild, a guild of artisan millers, open only to those using traditional methods to produce flours and meals. Golspie Mill is also the home of another classic Scottish breakfast, Peasemeal, one of Slow Food's protected foods.
2. Porridge Oats by Aberfeldy Oatmeal, Angus
Made using locally grown Scottish oats and milled by age-old methods, Aberfeldy Oatmeal's quality shines through. We handpicked Aberfeldy Oatmeal's porridge oats first and foremost it was the flavour. Aberfeldy Oatmeal has distinctive nutty characteristics both in texture and flavour, because of this, their oatmeal is very unique.
When Aberfeldy Oatmeal’s original owners decided to retire and close the company for good, an Angus based farmer, Sandy Gray, who had sold their oatmeal for decades in his farm shop decided that he could not let this happen. He bought the company and continued to use locally grown and milled Scottish oats to supply his loyal regulars with Aberfeldy Oatmeal. Because of Sandy’s dedication to re-invigorating traditional local products, we were keen to support and promote his wonderful product.
3. Organic Oats by Eden Valley, The Borders
If smooth creamy porridges are more your cup of tea, then newcomer, Eden Valley's organic oats are for you. They make their organic oats from pinhead oats, which are steamed to partially cook them and then rolled to make a smaller flake. These cook quicker than jumbo oats and give a smoother textured porridge.
Eden Valley Oats have been farming oats for over 30 years on their family farm near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. Their organic oats are grown with care in a beautiful location and taste fantastic. Eden Valley's organic approach helps nature thrive as well as their oats. We love that Eden Valley Oats are fully in control of the certified supply chain. It takes 6 months to grow the oats in their fields, then they harvest them and take them to the local mill. The quality of our unique oat products is not just down to the idyllic growing conditions, but also depends on the skill of the millers, who have perfected their craft over the years. Eden Valley Oats have been working with them since their very first crop.
4. Gluten-free Organic Oatmeal of Alford, Aberdeenshire
Alford's award winning gluten free porridge is made with 100% pure Scottish oats. The oats are grown and harvested on the family farm in Aberdeenshire and milled at Montgarrie Mill before every batch is rigorously gluten free tested to ensure they are complete safe for coeliacs. Their traditional methods of milling give the oats a wonderful nutty flavour.
One of the oldest working watermills in Scotland, Montgarrie Mill is the home of Oatmeal of Alford. The Medlock family grow the oats on the family farm at Mains of Haulkerton, Laurencekirk which is a fully organic farm. Oats have always been the main crop, however, nowadays; this is shared with free range chickens and a rotation of potatoes, wheat and grass. Their oats are then dried and graded on the farm before being delivered to Montgarrie Mill, where the oats are turned into a very traditional product. Many mills were set up by monasteries and local lairds, and run on their behalf by artisan millers. In fact, the base course of the current mill at Montgarrie is actually part of a previous mill that dates back to Jacobite times, although legend has it that there’s been a mill on the Esset burn since the Bishop of Aberdeen built one in 1317.
All of the exceptional Scottish porridges are available for worldwide delivery through Fresh Food Express.
Order online here: https://freshfoodexpress.co.uk/farm-shop-groceries...
Shockingly Good Veggie Recipes: National Vegetarian Week, 15-21 May 2017
This week, more so than most weeks, is all about the veggies for us - in both senses of the word! Like Si King and Dave Myers, aka The Hairy Bikers, who have thrown their support behind National Vegetarian Week, we have too! This week we thought we'd share some of our favourite veggie recipes with you, and as a bonus, they use the ever so tasty fruit and veg you'll find in our Heavenly Fruit & Veg Box from Gather.
Safe to say, we agree with the Hairy Bikers who had the following to say about National Vegetarian Week:
“As cooks, we’ve always appreciated our veg and they’re a hugely important part of our cooking. And lately, without really thinking about it, we’ve been eating less meat. The more we learn about cooking great food, the more we enjoy making use of all the amazing produce that’s on offer and creating dishes where vegetables, pulses and other plant foods are the stars of the show. That’s why we’re getting stuck into National Vegetarian Week this year… and we think you should too!”
Couldn't agree more....Bring on the veggies we say!
Below are two recipes that we consider to be staples and work for all manner of occasions when tasty food is called for. They come courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall and Anna Jones, two chefs who create incredible and healthy veggie and vegan food making fruit and vegetables the star of the show.
And we've thrown in a pudding, just because....
Hope you like them!
RECIPE: Cambodian Wedding Day Dip
Image courtesy of the River Cottage
This wonderful dip from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall can often be found in the fridge, ready to be served with crusty bread and a salad for lunch or made into a sauce and served with rice and a good sprinkling of fresh coriander for a tasty dinner. Tasty, cheap, healthy and simple to make, it ticks all of the boxes for us!
What you'll need:
- 600g mushrooms, very finely chopped (3-4 mm pieces)
- ½ Red chilli, finely chopped
- 3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3tbs Rapeseed oil
- 1 tbs Medium curry powder
- 2 heaped tbs crunchy peanut butter
- 400ml Coconut milk
- ½ lime-juiced
- 1tsp soy sauce
- A few coriander leaves
What to do:
Heat the oil in a large pan, when hot add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat stirring frequently until all moisture is driven off.
Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute, add the curry powder and peanut butter stir to mix. Add the coconut milk and simmer until thickened stirring to ensure the mixture doesn't catch.
Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and soy to taste. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a few coriander leaves.
RECIPE: Sweet and Sticky Roast Jersey Royal and Tomato Bake
Photograph by Issy Croker for The Guardian
This Anna Jones recipe appeared in the Guardian and really does make such simple ingredients sing. This is a dinner in its own right. Just add a zingy lemon-dressed green salad and you will feast like kings!
What you'll need:
- 500g baby onions
- 500g cherry tomatoes
- 750g jersey royals, scrubbed clean and halved
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 200g feta cheese
- 1 lemon, zested
- A small bunch of fresh basil
What to do:
1 Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
2 Put the onions into a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Use a slotted spoon to fish them out and peel back the skins, which will have been helpfully loosened by the hot water. Cut any larger ones in half.
2 Tumble the peeled onions on to your biggest roasting tray and add the tomatoes and the halved potatoes. It might be a squeeze, but this way the tomatoes will cover the potatoes with their juices. Everything will shrink a bit as it cooks, so don’t worry. Season generously with salt and pepper, and pour over some olive oil. Toss the tray contents to coat in oil, then roast in the oven for 1 hour, returning to toss everything again every 15 minutes or so.
3 Once the bake has had an hour, it should be smelling delicious: the onions should be soft and slightly browned in parts and the tomatoes blistered and charred. Remove the tray from the oven and crumble over the feta, grate over the zest of the lemon and scatter with basil, then put the tray back in the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.
4 Spoon on to warm plates and make sure not to miss a drop of those juices.
And, because we all need dessert, here is a yummy fruit based recipe courtesy of BBC Good Food, using our lovely Angus Strawberries and Angus Rhubarb. Just add good quality custard or clotted cream if you feel naughty (!) - it makes everything better!
RECIPE:: Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble
Image courtesy of BBC Good Food website
What you'll need:
- 400g Rhubarb
- 250g strawberries , hulled and halved
For the Crumble:
- 85g plain flour
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 25g ground almond
- 50g butter, at room temperature, chopped
- finely grated zest 1 small orange/clementine
- 2 handfuls pine nuts
What to do:
Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
Prepare the Roasted rhubarb adding the halved strawberries after 15 mins of cooking. Cook, uncovered, for a further 5 mins until the rhubarb is tender and the strawberries slightly softened.
Tip into a shallow dish, about 25 x 18 x 5cm, with enough of the syrupy juices to keep the fruit juicy. (Any leftover can be served with the crumble.)
While the fruits are roasting, prepare the crumble. Mix the flour, sugar and ground almonds, then add the butter and rub together to make coarse crumbs. Stir in the orange zest.
Spoon the crumble loosely over the fruit, then scatter with the pine nuts. Bake straight away for 25 mins until golden and bubbly. Cool a little before serving with custard and any remaining syrup.
A Pie's a Pie for a' That: Mr C's Handcrafted Pies
Robert Corrigan, owner and baker extraordinaire of Mr C's Handcrafted Pies knows a good pie when he sees one.
The same can be said of the Scottish Baker's Awards who awarded him, not one but two titles for the best Savoury bake for his Piggy Black Pie this weekend: one for the Scottish Central Belt & Tayside and the other for the whole of Scotland.
His award winning pies have been "oohed and ahhed" over across the country, from double Michelin starred Andrew Fairlie at the five star Gleneagles Hotel, who described Mr C's handcrafted pies as the "Best hand crafted pies I've tasted and I've tasted lots" to foodie magazine Delicious Magazine who gave it an outstanding product award in 2016. These pies are a thing of beauty.
Robert pours his heart and soul into every pie he bakes. One of their hallmarks is the crisp, crumbly hot water pastry, prepared with Shipton Mill organic flour and superior Italian lard, giving a melt-in-the-mouth experience. Robert has also made it his business to source the finest ingredients, such as outdoor-reared pork from Ramsay’s of Carluke, venison from Highland Game and organic flour from Shipton Mill. All of his pies contain fresh ingredients, with no artificial preservatives. True to his original idea, nothing is wasted. It doesn't get any better than that!
Exceptional quality from nose to tail - be tempted!
From the delectable, award winning Piggy Black Pie which features Ramsay's of Carluke's award winning black pudding and outdoor reared Scottish pork to the more Traditional Pork Pie, again made using outdoor reared Scottish pork, there is a pie for every palate. Simply add salad (try our magnificent Fruit & Veg box for inspiration) and handcrafted chutney (what about some Fiery Fig Chutney) and you have a meal fit for a king!
Having a party then why not organise a showstopper of a pie like the Cranberry Topped Traditional Pork Pie which will easily feed 8 to 10 people. Make that the centre piece of your table and wow your guests!
Make Mr C's Artisan Pies the shining star of your table today. We know they won't disappoint!
Mr C's complete range of handcrafted pies are available baked fresh to order via Fresh Food Express for delivery to homes, cafes and restaurants throughout the UK.
6 Stunning Spirits from Scotland that We Love
The Gin Bothy's Bothy Original Gin, 41% vol
We've picked our 6 favourite spectacular spirits from Scotland for you to kick back and enjoy. If the fresh smell of Scots pine needles and rosemary is your thing, then I'd recommend, The Gin Bothy's Bothy Original. Fresh and invigorating. Like running through a Scots pine forest after the rain.
Wild Island Botanic Gin, 42% vol
Sourced from the remote Scottish Isle of Colonsay, Wild Island Botanic Gin is a complex bouquet of meadowsweet, watermint, lemon balm and sea buckthorn. A classic dry gin with underlying mint and citrus notes.
Perfect Pour Cocktails, 20% vol
Ogilvy's new cocktail range; their premium Scottish potato vodka blended with natural fruit juices. Simply pour a 50ml measure and top up with the mixer of your choice. Great cocktails without the fuss. Choose from Scottish Raspberry, Apple & Elderberry, and Mint & Lime.
Aelder Elixir, 17% vol
Handcrafted in small batches from hedgerow to elixir, Aelder Elixir is deep, complex, fruity and decidedly moreish. A Scottish version of Chambord with much more complexity. Deep purple in colour from its wild elderberries, it can be sipped neat, or, our favourite, enjoyed Kir-style with Champagne or Prosecco.
NB Gin, Navy Strength, 57% vol
One for the gin purists, NB Gin Navy Strength is crisp, clean and everything that you'd expect from classic, dry gin. Juniper and coriander are at the fore front, with a slight herbaceous finish. With its high alcohol content, this is gin that keeps on giving.
Lussa Gin, 42% vol
The creation of three foraging female distillers who live on the tiny remote isle of Jura, Scotland, adjacent to Islay. They forage for unique botanicals in north end of Jura, where the terrain can be tough going and the weather unforgiving. Lussa gin is unique balance of 15 botanicals including lemon mint, rose hips, honeysuckle and sea lettuce. Try with soda water, ice and a fragrant rose petal.
Asparagus....The Crowning Glory of Angus
Asparagus, the fillet steak of the veggie world, is now at its prime and ready to go. What more could you want? We wait all year for these delicate green stems to shoot forth in May, heralding the start of summer and of food heaven as we know it. Here at Fresh Food Express, we are as excited as the next person when Rory from our neighbouring farm comes calling to say the time is right and the cutting can begin. The crowns that have lain dormant for many months under the cold winter soil, are ready to burst forth bringing a little taste of heaven to our plates.
Whether served simply roasted with shavings of Bonnet Hard Goat's Cheese and a scrunch of Hebridean Sea Salt, or as part of a creamy risotto, there is nothing quite like a bundle of Angus Asparagus to get the taste buds working. It is such a short season, our theory is that you can't have it often enough so get the green stuff loaded up on your plate. It really is delicIous!
All about the White Stuff
New for this year is white asparagus. Prized throughout Europe for its delicate favour, it is also grown locally and is ready to go right now.
Similar to its green counterpart, it has a ridiculously short season
(5-6 weeks) meaning we are champing at the bit to get this delicacy on to our plates as often as we can. White asparagus, like its green bed fellow is cut, packed and delivered to you within 24 hours, so you can't get any fresher than that!
White asparagus is grown using the process of etoilation which is the deprivation of light. Think of forced rhubarb as another example of this process. Dirt is kept mounded around the emerging stalk, depriving it of light. The plant cannot produce chlorophyll without light, thus there is no green colour to the stalks.
This process has an impact on the asparagus spears making white asparagus slightly milder in flavour and a bit more tender than green asparagus. We recommend that you peel the white asparagus with a potato peeler or cheese slicer before cooking it as it can have a woodier exterior than the more traditional green spear we are familiar with.
Anna Jones, who writes a column in the Guardian, and is a fellow lover of asparagus, inspired us with her recipe for this salad which really does make asparagus the shining star of the plate. By adding eggs and purple sprouting broccoli, Anna has made this into a more substantial meal. She prefers to shred the boiled eggs to achieve a texture that sits well next to that of the asparagus, and we agree. The punchy dressing of mustard and dijon, a “mimosa” of chardonnay vinegar, oil and herb, is balanced by some heady dill and buttery avocado. A salad with every tone of green – just like the spring Angus meadows. It works perfectly with asparagus.
RECIPE: Asparagus Mimosa Salad, serves 4
Photograph: Issy Croker for the Guardian
200g purple sprouting broccoli
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - or why not try Cold Pressed Rapeseed oil from SUMMER HARVEST
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 ripe avocado
Bunch of fresh dill or fennel tops, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche (optional) - why not try Katy Rodger's Natural Yoghurt
Rye bread, to serve
Salt and black pepper
1. Boil the kettle. Put the eggs into a small pan and cover with hot water. Bring it back to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 7 minutes. Drain the eggs as soon as they are cooked and run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
2. Meanwhile, snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them (or keep them for making stock). Chop the asparagus stems into 1cm rounds, stopping when you get near the top and keeping the tips intact. Chop the broccoli in the same way, stopping when you get close to the floret.
3. Put the asparagus tips and broccoli florets into a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and simmer for 3 minutes, then add the asparagus and broccoli rounds for the final minute.
4. Chop the shallot finely and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt and black pepper, then stir to combine.
5. Once the green vegetables have finished cooking, drain in a colander and add them to the bowl while still warm. Toss in the dressing.
6. Halve, stone and cut the avocado into thick slices, then add them to the bowl.
7. Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and grate into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, grate over the zest of the lemon, scatter the dill or fennel on top and mix gently. If you like, you could add a tablespoon of creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt here.
8. Serve the veg with spoonfuls of the lemon-and-dill shredded eggs, and a little buttered rye bread, if you like.
What Makes Our Highland Beef So Special?
Highland cattle have developed into an efficient and versatile beef breed. They are natural foragers in a variety of terrains and years of breeding have adapted them to out wintering in the severest of climates. Being largely self-sufficient, they require minimal maintenance.
They are fertile and usually calve outside unaided and unattended. Capable of surviving in the harshest weather conditions, Highlanders thrive where other breeds would fail. The Highland cow is long lived and matures on low input natural feed. Their outstanding hardiness minimises costs and many farmers are now recognising the inherent qualities of Highland cattle as a beef breed because of their ability to efficiently convert rough fodder into low fat, high quality beef. Because of the excellent way Highland cattle pass on to their progeny their many virtues they have become the basis of many breeding programmes for beef with that sought after quality.
The wonderful taste of the Highland beef produced is reflected in this diet of natural goodness because beef from grass and grass silage fed animals, as opposed to grain fed animals, generally produces a better quality meat. Feed can alter the fatty acid composition, flavour and oxidative stability of meat and forage based feeds tend to give lower saturated concentrations of fatty acids. Grass fed animals therefore produce ultimate flavour beef.
Full Flavour Beef
Pure Highland beef is slow maturing, lean, firm and very low in fat while at the same time rich in protein and iron. It is unsurpassed for flavour, tenderness and juiciness which comes from having just the right amount of marbling through the meat to give that succulent flavour so typical of old fashioned traditional beef. It lends itself magnificently to a range of cooking methods and different recipes.
Traceability & Provenance
Today’s stringent market means that complete traceability of the product is essential. Through the Highland Cattle Society’s Herd Book, traceability can be assured. Records are now fully computerised. Each carcase has a provenance and can be instantly traceable to the farm where it was born and reared.
Key Factors that Affect the Taste of Beef
When we create such conditions, we allow enzymes to do their work. And we end up with a complexity of flavour—savouriness, sweetness, some bitterness-that just wasn't there before. There's no cooking method that can generate the depth of flavour of a dry-aged piece of meat.
Key Factors that Affect the Taste of Beef
In rearing animals, diet has the greatest effect on the flavour of the meat, because animal diet is an important factor in producing fat type, which effects flavour. Our Highlanders are allow to roam freely throughout our Angus glens in the North East of Scotland. They graze all year round mainly on wild grasses, heather and other native plants that they discover whilst roaming. Our beasts are never finished on grain like many of the commercial breeds. During the winter when grass is scarce on the hills, we may supplement our cattle with homegrown haylage or silage.
Dry-aging beef means that once the animal is butchered, portions of the carcass are allowed to rest in very carefully controlled conditions (cool temperatures, with relatively high humidity) for a period of time—often several weeks, and sometimes up to a couple of months.
When we create such conditions, we allow enzymes to do their work. And we end up with a complexity of flavour—savouriness, sweetness, some bitterness-that just wasn't there before. There's no cooking method that can generate the depth of flavour of a dry-aged piece of meat.
During dry-aging, collagen, which is what holds the muscle fibres together, is broken down. Collagen is what can make a steak tough. After the dry-aging process the collagen is broken down leaving protein which is extremely tender.
Typically we dry-age our completely free range beef for up 28 days, which is already 2 weeks longer than the industry average. However, we know that extended maturation up to 35 days increases the meat flavour intensity and complexity even more.
- Increased meat flavour complexity
- Extremely tender
- Intense beef flavour due to loss of meat moisture
- Dark colour of meat and fat
Meat develops its flavour during the cooking process. Heat affects the compounds in the meat and the reactions that take place between these compounds result in the overall taste. Water soluble compounds and fatty acids are just two, which are characteristic of the species’ flavours, and these in turn may vary due to the animal and the breed and the degree of “fatness”. Fat adds specific flavour and aids the entrapment of moisture within the meat and during the cooking process, it keeps meat moist and succulent
3 Unique Food & Drink Gems from Orkney Not To Be Missed
1. Wilson's of Westray Creamery, Westray, OrkneyAlong with running our own farm, we also search the length and breadth of Scotland meeting likeminded food and drink producers to showcase to you through our online marketplace, Fresh Food Express. So we were delighted when we recently discovered this new Orcadian gem....Coming all the way from the tiny Isle of Westray in Orkney are new cheesemakers, Wilson's of Westray Creamery.
Creamery owners, Jason and Nina Wilson, left their native South African and decided to live the "The Good Life," when they upped sticks and moved everything they owned to a small farm on Orkney. They've been working tirelessly to convert their beef farm back to a dairy farm and creamery, to house their herd of Ayrshire cows. Jason and Nina farm organically and are certified with Demeter for their land, animals and milk. Being a new business, their creamery (i.e. their cheese and yoghurt) is not yet officially organic certified but they plan to achieve this accreditation very soon.
They produce Westray Wife, a washed-rind matured cheese and Noltland Castle, a fresh cloth-hung soft cheese with a texture not dissimilar to Mozzarella but bursting with flavour. During our taste testing, Kathryn and I will happily admit that we uncontrollable scoffed the whole packet of Noltland cheese. Tip: allowing this cheese to warm to room temperature will ensure you lose your self-control!
2. Beremeal, Barony Mills, Birsay, Orkney
Beremeal is a special product. It is a creamy coloured ground flour that comes from a traditional grain called bere. Bere is an ancient and genetically pure variety of barley, grown in Scotland since around 2000BC, but now grown only in the far north of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland and the Western Isles. It has an earthy, nutty flavour, is lower in gluten and historically has been used to bake bread, shortbread, biscuits and bannocks.
Bere has been grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. In the old days, it was called Bygg, and this is still the name given to barley in Norway. Although we call the meal beremeal, the crop is usually called corn in Orkney. It has been the staff of life in Orkney - in the form of bere bannocks and home brewed ale - since time immemorial. It is a variety of barley, although it differs in both appearance and taste. Generation after generation of Orcadians have been raised on bere bannocks.
The present Mill that grinds Beremeal is located at Birsay on Orkney, and was built in 1873, and has changed little since. It is run by the Birsay Heritage Trust who have operated it since 1998. Like most northern mills of this period, a kiln for drying the grain is integral with the building.
The "Barony" is an area of good farmland in the northwest corner of Birsay near the Earl's Palace. The land here has been a prime estate of the rulers of Orkney since medieval times, and probably Viking times and earlier. The original name of the Mill was Barony; in the 1980s the Mill was called Boardhouse, a name that still occurs in the older guide books. Rae Phillips - whose father and grandfather were millers at the Barony Mills from 1910-1972 - worked with his father at the Mill from 1957 to 1963 and is now the miller himself.
It is a grain that is becoming less and less popular commercially but, we love the flavour and are great believers that everyone should experience this amazing product. Beremeal is currently classified as an endangered food by Slow Food's Ark of Taste. This is why we are actively supporting the beremeal industry by stocking the flour, biscuits, oatcakes and shortbread made using this beautifully flavoured flour. If you fancy something a little more unusual, try this!
Beremeal and beremeal products (shortbread and oatcakes) are available for UK wide delivery via Fresh Food Express HERE
3. Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin, Kirkwall, Orkney
Kirkjuvagr, pronounced kirk-u-vaar, means “Church Bay” in Old Norse. Back when Orkney was emerging as a seat of power in the Viking Empire, the Norsemen would sail their longships into Kirkjuvagr, which over the centuries grew into the islands’ capital, Kirkwall. In name, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin reflects the rich history of these islands and the boldness of those ancient seafarers. In character though, it’s utterly contemporary and has been crafted with the modern, discerning gin enthusiast in mind. The quest is to earn Kirkjuvagr mythical status with gin drinkers around the world.
Reflecting the boldness of their Norse ancestors, the clarity of the Orcadian seas and the purity of their air, this gin is handcrafted on Orkney for the modern, discerning gin enthusiast. It is quite simply, unmistakably Orcadian.
Key botanicals include juniper, angelica, ramanas rose, burnet rose, borage, bere barley and calamondin citrus fruits. On the nose, think fresh sea breeze with a sweetness reminiscent of sherbet, lemons and pine. Tastewise, it starts warm and sweet with a hint of spice followed by a floral, smooth and long finish. This is an incredibly smooth gin and is great sipped neat or on the rocks with a twist of orange. It pairs beautifully with Walter Gregor Scottish Premium Tonic Water, again with a twist of orange peel
Kirkjuvagr Gin is available in 10cl, 20cl, and 70cl for distribution through the UK via Fresh Food Express HERE