Our Hot and Cold Smoked Trout comes from Chalk Stream Foods, based within Hampshire – on the Rivers Itchen and Test. Interesting fact: Did you know that there are only 210 chalk streams in the world and 160 of those are in England!
Chalk streams occur when water is filtered through chalk hills, the chalk acts as an aquifer (filtration system). Water is filtered through the chalk and re-emerges lower down the slope in springs/rivers. The temperature of the emerging surface water is fairly stable and rarely deviates from 10°C (50°F). On cold winter mornings, it can look as though steam is rising above the relatively warm river.
From the image above, you can see that the river enters the farm at the lower right corner. (Only some water is diverted, the River Test continues to run alongside and around the farm.) The water, which is Class 1A, the highest water rating you can get, is diverted through the farm and is used like a treadmill for the fish so they are constantly on the move, making them tasty, rich and lean.
They don’t just divert the water into the farm, they oxygenate it for the fish as well to compensate for the carbon dioxide produced by the weed at night. As water flows into the farm a sensor measures the amount of oxygen and will add oxygen when the reading is below a certain level. It is hugely important to maintain constant oxygen level to create a stress free and stable environment for the fish to live in. There are several other points throughout the farm that also measure the oxygen levels.
Chalk Stream water flows in one direction through every tank and returns to the Test on the other side of the farm (top middle). It returns to the river in the same Class 1A bracket as when it entered. This is achieved as the water from the farms goes through the settling canals that are deep and wide that act like gravity filters for suspended solids and waste products. Every couple of years the canals are dredged and the fertile silt spread on the surrounding fields.
The trout are fed on pellets that are mostly made up of protein and oils from soya and rapeseed with a small percentage of fish meal and oil that is sustainably sourced from Chili that is fully traceable. For every kilo of fish meal and oil used in the feed the farms produce in excess of one kilo of chalk stream trout and so are a net producer of fish.
All trout stock is from UK eggs and when the fry are delivered they are placed in these tanks. Each tank holds 50,000 fry, from there they are thinned to 20,000 and moved along the farm into bigger and bigger tanks, thinning as they go.
The trout are sustainably grown in these gin clear waters and take about 2 years to get them to the 2 Kg mark. The fry are hand fed and as they get larger, are fed by machine that is always operated by the farmers to prevent over-feeding that stresses the fish causing more waste. The farmers are extremely passionate about the trout they grow, with many of them spending the majority of their working lives there – Pete, the Farm Manager, has been working here for 35 years.
Hampshire Chalk Stream rainbow trout is some of the tastiest, richest and leanest in the UK as a result of their unique natural habitat.
These world-famous spring-fed chalk streams with crystal water, constant water flows and excellent light and vegetation create havens for the fish, making them rich and lean with a distinctive, sensational taste.
They are one of the only trout suppliers in Hampshire to fillet and smoke on-site. This guarantees freshness and taste, as well as reducing the environmental impact of operations as a result of unnecessary travel to smokeries.
A few old photos from 1978 show that working of the farm hasn’t really changed all that much and that for over 40 years traditional trout farming produces the best tasting trout.