Farmers Choice are seeing STARS

award_tasteFor over 20 years the most coveted blind tasted food awards has taken place, celebrating the very best in food and drink and this year is no exception. Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs and producers as well as a whole host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers.

This year we are very proud to announce that out of 10,000 entries, we have been awarded those 6 beautiful gold stars for our British South Downs Free Range meat.  We are so proud that 4 of our products have won awards. We already think our products are amazing and now they are being more widely recognised. These 6 gold stars now sit alongside our previous 6 from last year; 3 for our Rose Veal Club Roast, and 1 each for our Minced Steak, Slow Roasting Lamb Breast and Back Bacon Dry Cure.

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Our 3 golden star winner was our Belly Pork with Black Pepper and Sea Salt Coating. Out of 10,000 entries only 141 were awarded the 3 golden stars, we are over the moon with this result. Judges commented “Powerful peppery coating”, “A gorgeous crunchy crackling full of warming, fragrant pepper”, “the pork is sweet and succulent”, “The fat has great creamy flavour” and “Tender and succulent, full of flavour”.

Our other awarded products were Minced Pork, Mini Lamb Roast and our Back Bacon Oak Smoked.  These all received the one gold star award. The judges comments were “A good looking rasher of bacon” “the smoke comes through well and the cure has brought out the flavour of the pork”, “Juicy succulent meat”, “Good lamb flavour”, “A well butchered little roast” and “Moist and with good pork notes”.

Now it is a waiting game to see who will be awarded the Golden Fork, “the best of the best” as they say in Top Gun.  Those nail biting results will be announced in September – fingers crossed!

What are Great Taste judges looking for?

They’re looking for great texture and appearance. They judge the quality of ingredients and how well the maker has put the food or drink together. But above all, they are looking for truly great taste.

How do they work?

Each team of four judges blind-tastes around 25 products per session, discussing each product as a coordinating food writer transcribes their comments directly onto the Great Taste website which producers access after judging is completed. Over the years, numerous food businesses, start-ups and well established producers have been advised how to modify their foods and have subsequently gone on to achieve Great Taste stars. Food or drink that is deemed worthy of Great Taste stars is also tasted by a team of arbitrators, who taste, confer and agree on the final award given. If judges feel that a product needs some adjustment, and therefore not likely to receive an award, the food or drink gets a second chance on a referral table, where another team, blind-tastes and deliberates. For a Great Taste 3-star award, the vast majority in the room – which can be as many as 30-40 experts – must agree that the food or drink delivers that indescribable ‘wow’ factor.

Escape to the New Forest this Summer

New Forest Escapes, rent five very special homes on or near the seaside in the New Forest National Park. They specialise in luxury, beautiful and eccentric properties, all have been designed to be a relaxing and interesting family bases from which to explore and enjoy the New Forest.
 
They have summer holiday availability and offers on breaks in July, August and September, starting from £40 per person per night at Eat me Drink me Cottage that sleeps 8 + kids.

Whether you’re wanting ‘Swallows and Amazons’ beach adventures for all the family or you’re coming to birdwatch, cycl the Forest or celebrate a milestone birthday. They can help you organise a story-teller to wow you with tales of Roman soldiers walking out of a parting sea, a chef to do an Alice in Wonderland tea, or just sandcastles, marshmallow cooking and sparklers on the beach – just ask.

Pitts Deep sleeps 9. Metres from the door is the amazing beach in the pics which few others visit or can reach. It is utterly glorious and still a hidden secret.

Pitts Deep Special Offers:

29th – 5 Aug. 7 nights.
12th – 19th Aug 7 nights.
26th – 2nd Sept 7 nights.

Was £3900 per week now £3600 per week. Or £514 per night, or £57pppn.

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Gins is right next to the Beaulieu River, and sleeps 8 + kids, in super-duper luxury. You can travel from here to Bucklers Hard by boat taxi and eat at The Master Builders Hotel with 10% off your food bill with our discount card. Perfect crabbing, reading and picnicing from the jetty which has a park bench on the pontoon on the end too….

Gins Special Offers:

25th -29th Jul. 4 nights.
Was £2000, now £1700. Or £500 per night, now £425 per night, or £53 pppn.

12th to 19th Aug.
19th-26th Aug.
26th-2nd Sept.
Was £3450p/wk now £3000. Or £53pppn

Or we can do short stays in these dates. Approx £500 per night.

5th to 7th Sept.
Was £2000, now £1700. Or £500 per night, now £425 per night, or £53 pppn.

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Don’t forget, you can get your locally sourced/produced food delivered by us and put away, just select what you want from the website and we will do the rest. How about a free range Sunday roast or a grass fed British steak on the BBQ.

Contact: www.newforestescapes.com    +07723319970 for more information.

Eat Local Stay Local

When it comes to things to do, places to visit and food to eat, you can’t beat Hampshire! Offering a wealth of attractions and events for all the family, from messing around on the water, wildlife walks deep in the heart of the New Forest, to a picnic full of Hampshire produce to enjoy on those perfect summer days.

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Hampshire offers miles of idyllic countryside to explore, stretching from the South Downs National Park in the east to the New Forest National Park in the west and the North Wessex Downs in the north of the county.

With its unique mixture of rolling hills, chalk streams, country parks and bustling market towns, Hampshire’s countryside offers the perfect rural escape for short breaks or day visits for all the family.

We’ve teamed up with New Forest Escapes a small team who rent five homes on or near the seaside in the New Forest National Park. They specialise in luxury, beautiful and eclectic properties, all of which have a touch of magic. Each has a properly well set up kitchen and enough kit to cook and serve smart meals.

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Would you like to arrive at your holiday destination, put down your bags and relax without having the hassle of going to the supermarket? How would you like your holiday food waiting for you when you arrive, already packed away? We are pleased to offer a unique local food and drink service supplying the best Hampshire has to offer, delivered and packed away at your holiday destination.

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From five very special cottages on offer, catering from 6 – 10 people, from Beaulieu to Lymington – whether you’re wanting ‘Swallows and Amazons’ beach adventures for the all the family or you’re coming to birdwatch, cycle the Forest or celebrate a milestone birthday, New Forest Escapes help busy families create slow holidays. All holiday places have been designed to be relaxing and interesting family bases from which to explore and enjoy the New Forest.

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Rachel, who runs the business, says, “Mainly I’m a match-maker. I match houses and people every day. Family get-togethers and 70th birthdays are our mainstay and we go out of our way to help busy people create slow holidays, full of cheap (and luxury) thrills. I signpost people to story-tellers, help organise Alice in Wonderland teas, or just tell people where the best sandcastle and marshmallow cooking beaches are near or at our houses. It’s great fun. We have very creative guests and I especially love helping people cook outside or find fab private picnic spots”.

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Rachel says, “Our top picnic spots are:

1: on the beach at Pitts Deep Cottage. It’s 2 hours from London and has a beach 10 metres from the front door. The beach has private access so there are rarely other people there. It faces the Isle of Wight and gets all the evening sun – amazing for foodie treats and picnics”.

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2: on the Gins Barn jetty (80 metres into the Beaulieu River). Great for low key picnics and it’s just the best place to read a book, nibble on cheese and biscuits, drink some good wine and boat-watch the passing traffic.

3: bonfire in the garden at Eat me Drink me Cottage with the kids. This is a great house for families with lots of kids than like to run wild. It sleeps 10, has a giant trampoline and best of all a bonfire area. Kids can forage for wood. Make their own fire. Cook their own sausages and scoff them down with hunks of fresh bread and tomato sauce. Then roast marshmallows for pudding before racing to the beach 1 km away down the lane and tracking the wild ponies that live there. Heaven.

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It’s lovely to get away, but sometimes you want the freedom of your own place, in beautiful surroundings, and with all the comforts of home. What could be better than having fabulous British free range food from Hampshire/South Downs/Isle of Wight to enjoy on your Hampshire holiday!

When booking a holiday with New Forest Escapes enter NFE30 at the checkout to receive a discount.

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Orange and Honey Pulled Gammon Recipe

orange and honey pulled gammon

Why should pulled pork get all the attention!

Serves 6

Ingredients

Method

Put your slow cooker on to high. Unwrap the gammon joint and place it in the bottom of the pot of your slow cooker. Fill with water until the gammon is just covered and drop in the bay leaves, the garlic bulb and the orange slices. Replace the lid and leave to cook for three hours.

Once the three hours are up, carefully lift out the gammon joint using two forks, onto a roasting tray lined with a sheet of foil. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200ºC.

Carefully remove the string the joint is tied up with, and most of the fat, making sure to leave a thin layer of the fat still on the joint. Drizzle the honey over the top of the gammon joint, over the remaining fat, and slide it into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it during this time, you don’t want the honey to caramelise too much and burn.

Once you can see that the honeyed gammon joint is golden on top and sizzling, take it out, transfer to a plate or board and then shred it with a couple of forks. Serve straight away.

Perfect served hot, as it is, straight out of the oven – but it’s also perfect cold in a salad or breakfast hash with vegetables.

Get your ingredients online with our Easy Recipe Shopper

This is a fantastic Recipe from @joromerofood (twitter).

Alternative Christmas Centerpieces

 

Want something other than Turkey? Here are a few alternatives; our delicious Free Range Beef, Lamb or Pork joints.

Getting the timing right

Getting the timing right!

BEEF | Roast Silverside | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4 – 5 | Timing – rare 15 – 20 mins per 450g plus 20 mins, medium 21 – 25 mins per 450g plus 20 mins, well done 26 – 30 mins per 450g plus 30 – 40 mins.

LAMB | Rolled Shoulder of Lamb | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4-5 | Timing – pink/medium 30 mins per 450g plus 30 mins, well done 35 mins per 450g plus 30 mins.

PORK | Loin | Temp 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4-5 | Timing – 35 mins per 450g plus 35 mins.

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Roast Silverside of Beef

Roast Silverside of Beef

Prep – 20 mins, Cook 2.5 hrs approx, Serves 6

Ingredients – 2kg boned and rolled Farmer’s Choice Beef silverside, 1 tbsp beef dripping or butter, 8-12 small red onions, peeled and slit in a cross at the pointed end (so that they do not burst in the oven), 4 heads garlic (halved), a few sprigs of thyme.

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rub the rolled silverside joint with the beef dripping and sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper. Put the joint into a roasting tin and into the hot oven for 15 minutes to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Add the onions, garlic and thyme around the beef with about 100 ml of water. Cover with foil and cook for about 1.5 hours, basting from time to time and adding a little more water if necessary. This will keep the meat moist. Re-cover with the foil each time. Uncover the meat for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Remove the meat to a warm serving dish to rest with the onions and garlic, cover well and keep it warm. Slice the beef and serve.

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Roast Loin of Pork

Roast Loin of Pork

Prep – 10 mins, Cook 2 hrs 15 mins approx, Serves 6-8

Ingredients – 2.4 kg loin of Farmer’s Choice Pork, and the skin deeply scored, 2 or 3 tsp salt, 6 small apples left whole with the core removed, finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 2 tsp soft brown sugar, 6 sprigs of rosemary, 500 g new potatoes

Method

Preheat the oven to 210ºC/ 190ºC fan/ gas 7. Rub the salt all over the skin and deep in between the score lines, so that it will work with the fat to make crackling. Place the joint in a roasting tin leaving space to add the apples and potatoes later. Put the meat in the hot oven and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes to form the crackling.

With a sharp knife score a fine line around the waist of the apples so that they won’t burst in the oven. Mix the lemon rind and sugar together and divide this between the apple cavities, Pop a rosemary sprig into each apple. Set aside with the lemon juice until ready to use.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC/ fan 160ºC/ gas 4 and continue cooking for a further 45 minutes.

Resisting the temptation to baste the meat, spoon off and discard any excess fat from the pan before arranging the apples and new potatoes around the meat. Spoon a little lemon juice into each apple. Return the roasting tin to the oven and cook for a further 45 minutes until the pork is thoroughly cooked, the potatoes tender and the apples are soft and sticky. If at this stage the crackling is not done to your liking, cut the whole of the rind away from the meat, cut it into strips with kitchen scissors and place them on a baking sheet and return to the oven at 200ºC/ 180ºC fan/ gas 4 for about 15 minutes, keeping the meat, potatoes and apples warm meanwhile.)

Serve with your favourite green vegetable or some leafy green salad.

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Rolled Shoulder of Lamb

Rolled Shoulder of Lamb

Prep – 20 mins, Cook 1 hr 40 mins approx, Serves 6-8

Ingredients – 60ml/4tbsp pine nuts, 50g/2oz fresh basil , 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, 75g/3oz pitted green olives, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 boned shoulder of Farmer’s Choice Lamb weighing 1.3kg/3lb, 500g/1lb potatoes, 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks, 2 red onions cut into wedges.

Method

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/Fan 200ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and olives on a large board, then use a large sharp knife to chop them all together until you have a rough paste. Season with salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Unroll the boned shoulder and place skin side down on a board. Scatter the basil paste over the meat, rubbing it into all the crevices and cut surfaces. Roll up the shoulder of lamb and tie it together with string at regular intervals to make a neat parcel.

Place the lamb in the centre of a large roasting tin. Roast for 10 mins. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/Fan 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and roast for 40 mins.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven, add all the vegetables and toss together until coated in the pan juices. Roast for a further 40 mins. Transfer the meat to a board and leave to rest for 10 mins, covered with foil. Keep the vegetables warm in a serving dish.

To serve, thickly slice the lamb and serve with the roasted vegetables.

Celebrating British Food

We have just come to the end of British Food Fortnight, the biggest annual celebration of British Food and Drink.
Buy British Food FortnightEvery year, since 2002, British Food Fortnight has become an opportunity to promote the benefits of buying and eating from our home produced British Larder.

Britain has so much to offer but it sometimes gets overshadowed by the supermarket giants and their ability to showcase ripe strawberries at the end of September! But with new labelling laws, we can now see where the food has come from – Peru, South Africa, Kenya, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and the list goes on. Have we all forgotten how to eat seasonally?

Choosing British means you will be supporting the local farmer/producer.

Take Charlotte Brown’s Handmade, Catch, Wild Island, Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Hampshire Honey, Hampshire Chutney Co – all products are produced locally from produce collected within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Charlotte Browns Handmade

Catch Isle of Wight

Fruit and vegetables always seem to taste better when you know it has just been picked! It is also cheaper if bought in season than out of season. This also affects the carbon footprint.  Seasonal food = Local = little or no carbon footprint, Out of Season Food = more expensive to cover the cost of transportation and freezing or chilling = large carbon footprint.

Wild Island Dressing from Isle of Wight

Cold Pressed Oil Company Ltd

Farmer’s Choice has teamed up with local farmers and producers to bring you the best Britain has to offer. A very high percentage of our products come from Hampshire/The Isle of Wight/the South Downs, and all our meat is British Free Range, reinforcing our ethos of Supporting the British Farmer!

Eat Seasonably Chart

Eating British fruits and vegetables in season is better for your health and your pocket. Foods in season contain the nutrients and minerals that our bodies need at particular times of the year.

British beef and sheep industries are the envy of the world; sometimes exporting our breeding livestock as they are much sought after by farmers in other countries. Our British chicken is the safest chicken meat in Europe!

British pig farmers operate by UK law to standards of welfare that are higher than those of nearly every other EU member state. “Buying pork that is not British means there is a 70% chance that it comes from a farming system that would be illegal in Britain” – extract taken from Love British Food. Farmer’s Choice make sure that not only is all our meat British but it is ALL CERTIFIED FREE RANGE.

Enjoy your Delivery

Mother Nature shows us that at the moment, apples, courgettes, cabbage, cauliflower, plums and squash are all in season.  With the change in temperatures comes the change to our diet, it’s time to dust off the slow cookers and build up that immune system ready for the temperature drops.

We have lots of seasonal recipes online for you to cook your local, seasonal produce, delivered by Farmer’s Choice, direct to your door!

Farmer's Choice Free Range Ltd

Do you know where your meat comes from?

 

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Can you decode the jargon used to distinguish different types of meat and its origins? Indoor Bred, Outdoor Bred, Outdoor Reared and Free Range – all clear if you understand the meaning behind the label, misleading if you don’t.

Indoor Bred – (All pigs stay indoors) The pigs live their entire life indoors, commonly on hard solid floors with straw or similar material for bedding.  A pigs’ natural instinct is to forage – get its snout in the mud and forage for food, the indoor bred pig will never get to do this. Sows may still give birth in farrowing crates – this restricts the sows’ movements and the piglets only have access to her to feed. There is no access to the outdoors, although they get to move around freely within a pen, they are kept in small groups so there is less likelihood that there will be conflict or tail biting,caused by boredom.  Pigs are social creatures, their social behaviour is highly developed, new born piglets begin to form social dominance relationships with littermates within hours of being born!

Outdoor Bred – (Breeding herd outside free range but pigs reared for meat inside). The breeding females or sows are kept free range in paddocks, outdoors, with huts for shelter and straw for bedding. Around 4 weeks after the sow gives birth the piglets will be weaned, being taken away from her and moved indoors and fattened in extensive and intensive conditions. In this system the sow will have the higher quality of life and is able to act naturally – nesting, rooting, wallowing and foraging. The piglets only get this quality until they are weaned.

Outdoor Reared – (Breeding herd outside free range with pigs reared for meat outside but unable to roam freely). The sow, again, gets to live her life outdoors naturally and the piglets are weaned at the same time. They are reared in pens outside but unable to roam as in a free range system.

Free range: Breeding herd and pigs reared for meat outside free range

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Free Range – Whilst there is no legal definition of ‘Free Range Pork’ a voluntary industry code in the UK requires that free range pigs have permanent access to pasture, they are born outside (without stalls or crates) and are then reared outside throughout their lives. On the best free range pig farms, the sows and the growing pigs are kept outside for their entire lives.

Blog 9Our South Downs pigs are no exception. On a bitterly cold morning at the end of January we went to see Richard and Aimee on their free range pig farm in West Sussex. Their farm sits in the South Downs and enjoys a real countryside vista. Richard and Aimee have been raising free range pigs for over 12 years, producing first class pork from traditional breeds and are proud to be one of a few free range pig farmers in the South of the UK.

The breed raised on the farm is The Duroc. Their thick winter coat and hard skin allows them to survive the cold and wet of the British winter. This coat then moults in summer to leave the pig looking almost bald but able to cope with hot dry summers. Its tenacity in looking after its young combined with its docility between times makes it an ideal candidate for an outdoor pig producing succulent pork.

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On the tour of the farm, we are shown several distinctly different areas.  One houses the gilts (a young female pig that has not yet bred/first time mum), sows waiting to be mated again, pregnant sows and the boars. They are in fields that look like a semi-circular sundials with a hut in the middle, a pivot point. That way Richard can bring the boar down to the pivot point and place him in whichever section he wants (to mate) without too much stress to the boar.

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The pregnant sow has a particularly precise gestation period of 114 to115 days (3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days) and when she is ready to have her piglets she is moved into the maternity of “farrowing” area which has the individual huts for her and her piglets, she is given lots of straw but even in the middle of our cold winters, inside the hut is toasty warm. For the summer Richard paints the huts white to reflect the sun so they don’t bake inside (4º difference, which might not sound a lot but very important to a pig).

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Richard has the breeding set up so the Sows give birth 3 weeks apart, in one area are the new mums, then the next one is filled with piglets running around, following mum, rooting around in the mud, learning to use the wiggle feeders.

Richard will only breed the sows for 6 litters. He tells us that after the 6th litre the sow tends to become clumsy even laying on the piglets, eating too much of the food – not letting the piglets get enough.

family hello

In another field are the adolescent pigs, they have so much space to wallow, run eat, drink etc. Pigs do tend to carve up the ground wallowing and foraging so they are constantly moved round to ensure that they always get the best of everything. This lot are due to be moved to the green pasture in the background in April.  Here they will live out their lives, naturally growing fat. The large tent in the middle is where the pigs are weighed.

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Richard and Aimee wanted a completely stress free life for the pigs and here on this farm is exactly what that is.  Even down to their final days the pigs are kept in their field, just moved down to the transport vehicle hours before they leave the farm.

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Britain is only about 25% self-sufficient in bacon and 70% in pork, meaning it imports large quantities of pig meat, which farmers in the UK complain comes from animals generally raised in worse and more intensive indoor conditions, including in much of the EU. But the RSPCA’s Julia Wrathall said even in this country “a significant number” of the 9 million animals reared for meat each year “are living out their lives in unacceptable conditions”. – (extract taken from theguardian.com/ethicalfood-animalwelfare)