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Duchy Treats: The Culinary Traditions of Cornwall

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As the southernmost and westernmost region of England, the Duchy of Cornwall is also one of the most culturally distinctive. In many ways, Cornwall has more in common with Wales, Brittany, Ireland and Scotland than it does with England, owing to its Celtic history, and Cornish, like Welsh, Gaelic and Breton, is a far older language than English, deriving from Celtic origins.

Cornwall has long been associated with a rich seafaring and fishing tradition, along with its tea mines, but the Duchy  has also provided some of the most popular and distinctive culinary contributions in the history of English food. The famous Cornish pasty, covered elsewhere on Made in England, is arguably their most famous product, but in this article, we’re focusing on those other dishes and foods from the Duchy of Cornwall, with which you may be less familiar.

Cornish Pilchards


At one time the pilchards were at the heart of the Cornish economy and even those who aren’t fans of this small, oily fish, will appreciate their importance. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Cornwall, those who didn’t work in a mine were likely to be involved in the pilchard industry. Pilchard fishing led to the emergence of those numerous Cornish fishing villages that have so defined the Duchy in the last two centuries, including Mousehole, Mevagissey, Polperro and St Ives. The heyday of the pilchard industry has faded, but these days, often rebranded as the Cornish sardine, the pilchard has come to be regarded as a delicacy, found in upmarket supermarkets around the country, and grilled pilchards are a tasty and nutritious food enjoyed widely across England.

Stargazy Pie


While we’re on the subject of seafood, it would be impossible to mention Cornwall without talking about this famous, or, depending on your opinion, infamous Cornish pie. The pie draws on the plentiful supply of pilchards (see above) in Cornwall, which are baked with potatoes and eggs in a pastry crust. This makes for a tasty combination but the most distinctive part of this pie is in the finish, which leaves the heads of the fish poking through the crust, apparently ‘gazing at the stars’.

Tradition has it that the recipe dates back to the 16th century and the village of Mousehole and was created to honour a local fisherman, who set off into treacherous seas one winter when the storms had been so bad that no-one had been able to catch any fish and the community was close to starvation. The fisherman, Tom Bawcock, returned with enough fish to feed the village, which were supposedly baked in one huge pie, with their heads sticking out to celebrate the return of the fish.

Saffron Bun


Sometimes known as the Cornish tea treat or the Revel bun, this is best known as a saffron bun. It has some similarities to the tea cakes eaten across England, in that it contains currants, but with the addition of saffron. This would seem to be an unusual ingredient, given that this is one of the world’s most expensive spices. No-one is quite sure how it came to be used in a Cornish bun, though one explanation is that it was first acquired in ancient times from the Phoenicians who came to England to trade tin. Whatever the origin, the saffron bun has become a distinctively Cornish food.

Cornish Meaderies

Cornwall didn’t create mead, which is made from fermented honey and water, although the Cornish version is a sweet and heady brew. But the Duchy can claim to have created the meadery, an unusual venue, which can best be described as a medieval themed eating facility, where food is served to customers on wooden plates and eating with your fingers is compulsory. Naturally, there is plenty of Cornish mead served, along with the equally potent Cornish blackberry wine!

Hevva Cake


Sometimes called the Cornish heavy cake this is a traditional Cornish cake produced from a generous mixture of lard, flour, butter, milk, sugar and raisins. Another food from the height of the pilchard industry, this cake was a way of commemorating a successful catch. At that time, a local man would be employed as a ‘huer’ whose job was to sit on the cliff top and act as a lookout for shoals of pilchard. Whenever he spotted them, he had to rouse the cry of “Hevva, hevva!”, which means “here they are!” in the local language. He would direct the fleet through arm waving and when the pilchards had been landed, there would be a celebration at which hevva cakes would be eaten. Traditionally these cakes feature a criss-cross pattern on the top, representing fishermen’s nets.

Cornish Cream Tea


The cream tea has become synonymous with Cornwall although there is fierce dispute in the south west over precisely where it emerged, with many in neighbouring Devon claiming the honour.

The basis of the cream tea is simple. It is built around a fresh scone, which is split in half, then spread with strawberry jam following by clotted cream, and best served with a pot of tea. The Cornish cream tea has become popular with holidaymakers and across England, and while it is similar in most respects to the Devon cream tea, the Cornish cream tea strictly conforms to the jam-first approach, which is a matter of considerable disagreement with Devon folk.

Yarg Cheese


Cornwall produces more than 60 varieties of cheese, but the most famous is undoubtedly the Yarg. It is believed that the recipe goes back to the 13th century, but it was revived in the 1960s by a married couple, the Grays, who supposedly gave it their name, spelt backwards. Yarg is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with some similarities to Caerphilly, but a major distinction is that the cheese is wrapped in nettles, which eventually form an edible rind, though the nettle stings are removed through freezing the leaves. Produced at the Lynher Dairies, Truro, Yarg is exported around the world.  

Cornish Fairings


The Cornish fairing has the distinction of being the traditional biscuit of Cornwall. It has some similarity to a ginger nut, though less crunchy and more buttery. Originally, fairings were found across England and earned their name through being sold as a treat at fairs, but the efforts of Cornish baker John Cooper Furniss, led to the Cornish version becoming nationally dominant and today the traditional Cornish fairing is one of the highlights of the Duchy’s food cupboard.

Newlyn Crab


Crabs are caught widely around the coasts of Cornwall, but those caught in Newlyn, near Penzance, have a reputation for being the best. Both types of crab meat, the white, which comes from the crab’s claws and the brown, are widely used. The white meat is found in seafood dishes, while the brown is most popular in soups and broths. All types of crab recipe are popular on the Cornish coast, but there are few more tasty experiences than enjoying crab soup or a crab sandwich in Newlyn.

Head East to Norfolk for Classic English Food

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The eastern counties of England have a distinctive local history and one of the most interesting of those regions is the county of Norfolk, the most easterly point of the nation.

Like many areas of England, Norfolk is steeped in history. Stone Age and Bronze Age sites such as flint mines, long barrows and round barrows, have been found in the county, testifying to its importance in the prehistory of England. The region was also settled by Celtic tribes, including the Iceni, who arrived in Norfolk from the European continent. Subsequent invasions by the Romans, the Saxons and the Danes left their mark on Norfolk, most notably the long period that the county spent as part of the Danish kingdom in England, the Danelaw.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Norfolk was a thriving centre of agriculture, largely through the success of the wool trade. That status was maintained throughout the Medieval period, and the agricultural heritage of the county, which was also known for its barley, wheat, sugar beets, oats, peas and beans, have left a rich and enduring culinary legacy, enhanced by the impressive variety of seafood drawn from the Norfolk coast. Here are some of the most distinctive and tasty Norfolk contributions to English cuisine.

Cromer Crab

There’s no doubt about the most popular Norfolk food, and the one that deserves first place in our list. Cromer crabs are to Norfolk, what pasties are to the people of Cornwall and champagne to one region of France. Cromer crabs have a reputation for being particularly tasty because they thrive in the combination of chalk reef and shallow waters that characterise the Norfolk coast.

In principle, Cromer crabs are the same as any other brown crabs caught all around the coast of England, but they have a superior taste that has been recognised in law. In fact, the rules relating to what can be called a Cromer crab are strict. A Cromer crab must have a minimum legal shell span of 115 millimetres, making it smaller than any other crab caught in English waters .

Cromer crab meat is known to be tasty and healthy, packed with Omega-3 and having very little fat. Available from April onwards, it is best eaten with black pepper, a twist of lemon juice and a sprinkle of smoked paprika on buttered brown bread, often served with avocado, mayo or cucumber.

Norfolk Cheeses

The county of Norfolk has an impressive array of cheeses to sample, ranging from the Binham Blue, a soft blue-veined cheese produced at the Copys Green Farm at Wighton with milk from two herds: the Chalk Farm herd of Holstein Friesians and the Copys Green herd made up of Swiss Browns. You should also try Copys Cloud, which has a fluffy white rind and soft centre; the fresh curd cheese known as Wighton or Warham, a semi-soft cheese, available in a variety of flavours.

Black Turkeys

Norfolk is particularly well known for its flocks of black turkeys. These are most popularly eaten at Christmas, but the lean, versatile and healthy meat is an ideal food for any time of the year.

Historically, Norfolk has been the leading poultry producer in England, mainly as the birds are able to feed on grain that is left over from the plentiful local arable harvest. At one time, geese were the dominant poultry livestock, but from the early 16th Century, when Spanish explorers first returned from Mexico bringing these strange, jet black birds, turkeys have been taking over. The fertile and flat plains of the county of Norfolk were the ideal habitat for these birds to thrive in and the turkey has long since overtaken the goose as our favourite winter feast.

Norfolk Asparagus

Asparagus is a delicate and seasonal delicacy that has been held in high regard since the Romans arrived in England. Asparagus is technically the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant, and can be tricky to grow, but is considered to be one of vegetable world’s most luxurious delicacies. The light soil in the Norfolk region makes for the ideal growing conditions for this vegetable, and if you drive around the county, you will find plenty of roadside stalls and farm shops selling these delicious shoots. Norfolk asparagus is highly sought after in the food industry and features in the dishes of many of the country’s top restaurants.

Brancaster Mussels

Another sea-borne delicacy, the clean harbour waters of the coastal town of Brancaster Staithe on the Norfolk coast make this an ideal area for shellfish. Brancaster mussels are collected while they’re young and then moved to beds in the local tidal creeks, where they mature prior to harvesting. Enjoyed from September through to April, Brancaster mussels are enjoyed all over England.

Marsh Samphire

Marsh samphire is sometimes known as sea asparagus, and it thrives in the tidal salt marshes and creeks that characterise the North Norfolk coast. This curious plant looks like a small cactus, though without the tricky spines, and it has a fresh crunch when you bite into it, as well as a distinctive tastes. Best served steamed and eaten with butter, it has a salty, delicious taste and is one of the treats of any trip to Norfolk.

Kippers

Kippers have long since become a national dish, but their origins are in Norfolk. Back in 1850 a local fisherman landed a huge catch of herring in Yarmouth. After selling some of his haul, he was at a loss what to do with the rest, so he split them and hung them in a hut that was kept warm by oak chippings. The rest is history, and the delicious smoky taste of kippers has gone on to be a breakfast classic, along with the ‘bloater’, a whole fish smoked over a shorter period.

Norfolk Beer

Beer has always been a key part of Norfolk cuisine, with some breweries and beer making facilities in the county dating back to the 16th century. At one time, famous English breweries including names such as Bullards, Steward and Patteson, Morgans, and Youngs Crawshay and Youngs stood out in the Norfolk area, and in recent decades there has been a resurgence in brewery operations. In fact there are over 40 breweries in the Norfolk area and a higher concentration of microbreweries than you will find in almost any other region of the world. There are countless food and drink festivals in Norfolk that will give you the chance to try the fantastic variety of Norfolk beer, along with the famous Fine Ale in the Fine City festival, held at St Andrews Hall, Norwich, in the early summer

Food Around England: Yorkshire’s Culinary Heritage

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England may be a relatively small country, but there is a wealth of regional variation across the land, whether you’re talking about accents, music, language, history, traditions or food. Each region and each county has its own culinary traditions, and one of the most distinctive regions of England has an array of local foods that have a unique and attractive flavour.

Yorkshire is the largest county in England. Technically, Yorkshire is made up of four counties, North, South, West and East Yorkshire, covering a huge area roughly east of the Pennines, from Sheffield in the south to Richmond in the north, and from the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales to Scarborough and Hull on the east coast. The Dales and the Yorkshire Moors are two of the largest National Parks in the country, and the region offers a huge diversity of economies, ecology and industry.

The county has been shaped by a number of influences. The once-forested region was settled by a Celtic tribe, the Brigantines, before the arrival of the Romans, and there is a strong Viking influence throughout, dating from the Viking occupation from the mid 9th century. Yorkshire was a thriving hub of the industrial revolution, with coal mining, steel production, wool and cloth manufacture all contributing to a transformation of many areas of the county.

That long and varied history has inevitably resulted in the development of a unique variety of culinary contributions. And the sheer size of the county means that there’s plenty to choose from. In fact, there are over 1,100 companies in the Yorkshire food and drink sector, employing over 50,000 people and producing a fascinating selection of much-loved food products, some of which are popular all over the world. Here is the pick of Yorkshire’s contribution to English cuisine:

Yorkshire Curd Tart

Of the many unique dishes to emerge from the county of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Curd Tart is one that deserves a much bigger audience. Surprisingly little known outside the county, it is a delicious delicacy with a history that goes all the way back to the 1750s. By tradition, the Yorkshire Curd Tart was baked for Whitsuntide, or Pentecost, in May, a day marked by fairs throughout the county.

It is made from Yorkshire curd cheese, with just a hint of lemon curd to give it an edge and is served throughout tea rooms and coffee shops in Yorkshire, and the surrounding counties. These days it is eaten all the year round, it is both sweet and refreshing and the perfect alternative if you’re looking for something more sophisticated than a cheesecake.

Yorkshire Pudding

No article on Yorkshire food is complete without a mention for the ubiquitous Yorkshire Pudding, a dish that has travelled the world, spreading the name of Yorkshire to every culture on the planet.

The Yorkshire Pudding may be a simple dish, made from nothing more complicated than eggs, flour and milk, a genuine Yorkshire-made Yorkshire pudding is a cut above the sometimes generic versions you find in supermarkets. The beauty of the Yorkshire Pudding is that it has the reputation for being one of the few dishes that works well as a main course or dessert.

Typically, the Yorkshire Pudding is seen with a roast dinner, either as a small addition to the plate, or as a larger base for the entire dinner. But its versatility means that it can also be the basis for many kinds of savoury snacks, while some see it as a dessert, served with jam or golden syrup.

Chilli Jam

Many of the most famous Yorkshire foods are backed by centuries of tradition, but the thriving Yorkshire food sector regularly produces new classics, and Chilli Jam is a perfect example. A fascinating alternative to regular fruit-based jam, it was produced by chef Simon Barrett, who perfected the recipe over many years. The result is a distinctive and award-winning jam that has since inspired other creations including Mango Bhutney and Jammonaise.

Forced Rhubarb

Rhubarb is an unassuming fruit, but it has a versatility and richness that has made it a favourite for many families, and Yorkshire represents the pinnacle of rhubarb growing, in the so-called Rhubarb Triangle, a roughly nine-square mile area situated between Morley, Wakefield, and Rothwell known for its production of forced rhubarb; a version of the fruit that is sweeter and more fragrant than regular rhubarb. Yorkshire can lay claim to being the capital of rhubarb, in fact at one point, West Yorkshire once produced 90 per cent of the world’s rhubarb production.

The significance of the region’s rhubarb industry is marked each year in the Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb, held in late February. This is a rhubarb-lovers delight, showcasing everything from rhubarb gifts and souvenirs to entire rhubarb menus.

Wensleydale Cheese

First produced in the Yorkshire village of Wensleydale, Wensleydale cheese has earned global admiration for its subtle taste and crumbly texture. It is believed that the cheese was first produced by Cistercian monks in the valley of Wensleydale in the 12th century, and it wasn’t produced on a large scale until 1897. Nowadays, Wensleydale is made throughout Yorkshire, and is so distinctive and popular that it has won European Union Protected Geographical Indication status, which puts it in the same distinguished category as the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie and the Cornish Pasty.

Yorkshire Parkin

England is well known for its array of cakes, biscuits and sweet treats, and another high profile Yorkshire contribution to that tradition is the Parkin cake. It is a classic local sweet treat that is believed to have originated around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night, November 5, it was originally made in the West Riding of Yorkshire, from a recipe that uses flour, butter, oatmeal, ginger and black treacle, although there are other variations on the basic recipe, including an East Yorkshire version, that has more of a biscuit-style texture.

Whichever version of Parkin you sample, it is the perfect hearty, filling food for a cold winter, and ideal served with butter or eaten at tea time, with a cup of rich Yorkshire tea.

Henderson’s Relish

While the rest of England went crazy for Worcestershire Sauce, Yorkshire folk were not impressed. They had their own take on the famous brown condiment, called Henderson’s Relish.

This is a spicy sauce that was developed in Sheffield at some point in the 19th century, and like its Worcestershire equivalent, is a tasty and versatile kitchen additive. You can use it in all manner of recipes, from sauces for meats to marinades and soups. And while it has some obvious similarities to the more southerly sauce, it has a distinctly warming flavour all of its own.

Food Fit for a Fan: England’s Football Cuisine

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Going to the football (or soccer, if you’re reading this on the wrong side of the Atlantic) is one of the most quintessentially English pastimes around. Every weekend millions of people head to their nearest stadium or travel across the country to watch their team compete. Football is a religion to some, but even the most fanatic football fan has to pause to refuel. Let’s face it, watching professional sports people run around can soon build up your appetite.

Not surprisingly, that has led to the development of an entire food culture associated with English football. We’re not talking about pre-game meals in the nearest pub or that fried breakfast you gobbled down before you set out. Football food is the food that you can eat while watching the game.

To be fair, England isn’t alone in developing a football cuisine. Most major football cultures have developed their own style of football food, from sunflower seeds in Russia to currywurst in Germany.

Our climate means that much of the football season is played out in freezing, damp or otherwise inhospitable weather. When you’re chilled to the bone watching an FA Cup game in the middle of January, you need more than a few nachos to keep you going! As a result, English football food tends towards the hearty rather than the healthy. So the foods on this list may not feature in many Hollywood diet books, but they will keep you warm and tickle your taste buds. And, depending on which team you support, they may help to take your mind off what’s going on out on the pitch.

Steak Pies

Pies and English football have a long and intertwined history. You won’t find meat pies on the menu in Barcelona or Napoli, but in the depths of an English winter, there are few foods more welcome than a steak based pie. Despite numerous challengers, including burgers, hot dogs and chips, the pie remains the top-rated English football foods, and it has become part of football culture.

The famous chant of ‘Who ate all the pies?’ can often be heard at football matches, a chant that was famously embraced by former striker Micky Quinn in 1992, who responded to a fan throwing a pie onto the pitch by picking it up and eating it. While the quality of steak pies can vary widely, the best are a perfect combination of flavour and nourishment. There is a regional divide in England, with northerners more likely to opt for a steak and potato pie, while southerners are partial to a good steak and kidney, but there is no doubt that the pie rules the English football diet.

Balti Pies

The supremacy of the steak-and-something pie was largely unchallenged at English football grounds until something strange began to emerge in the West Midlands in the late 1990s. The Balti Pie is the fusing of the traditional English meat pie with the Balti cuisine for which the West Midlands became famous, and the result is a distinctive but delicious spicy, meaty snack, which proved particularly popular amongst football fans, first in the West Midlands, but eventually across the country.

Cornish Pasty

Like its cousin, the meat pie, the Cornish pasty didn’t start out life as a football food. In fact, it has been part of English cuisine since the 13th century. Initially a dish filled with venison, lamb, beef or even eel, the pasty was favoured by the rich and powerful, but was reinvented in the 17th century by the mining communities of Cornwall, to give the miners something sustaining to eat.

The pasty has come a long way since the days when the pie crust was simply designed as a means of holding the contents together. Traditionally, the Cornish pasty has a beef filling, with potato, onion and swede, and a hint of spiciness that helps to warm up the cold football fan. And one of the major advantages of the Cornish pasty, besides its being a tasty and quintessentially English dish, is the fact that it can be eaten hot or cold, making it perfect for away day football trips.

Sausage Roll

The principle of wrapping food in dough, which ultimately gave us the steak pie and the Cornish pasty, also came from the early Greeks and Romans, but it took an interesting direction in the early 19th century, when flaky pastry was combined with a pork filling. The result was the sausage rolls, that quickly caught on among the Regency English. As with the meat pie, the sausage roll can vary in quality, but the best sausage rolls offer a delicious and nourishing form of sustenance, and, like the steak pie, the sausage roll can be eaten hot or cold, making it a perfect football snack.

Bovril

You could argue that lager or ale are the most popular football drinks, but alcohol isn’t allowed pitch side or in the stands at English football, so the crown of most popular football drink has passed to the humble cup of Bovril. To those who have never come across Bovril, the best way to describe it is as a sort of beef tea. Made from a form of beef extract, it has a distinctive taste and is not for everyone, but for many football fans, it is the perfect drink for a cold afternoon at the football. Hot Bovril can be found sold at most grounds, alongside tea and coffee, but it also fills the flasks of many of the intrepid football explorers who travel the nation every Saturday afternoon.

Vegan Burgers

The rise of the vegan burger is representative of the way that English football has changed over the last thirty years, since the advent of the Premier League. Veganism may seem an unlikely partner with football, but ever since Forest Green Rovers led the way in 2015, by making the club food 100% vegan, football has been embracing the potential of vegan food. Cardiff City produced a plant-based menu in time for the current season, and many English football clubs have followed suit. The traditional burger remains popular, but the vegan burger, usually made from a mixture of beans and spices, combines both flavour and healthy nutrition, and is catching on all over the coun

Feeling Saucy? The Pick of English Condiments

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Since the beginning of human civilisation, people have used various additives to enhance their food. In fact, the first condiment was one of the most basic additives of all: salt. Salt has had a long history, both as a flavouring and a preservative. Vinegar, which gets its name from the French for ‘sour wine’ has also been popular since ancient times, for both food and medicine.

The Romans came up with many innovations, and they were particularly keen on inventing new condiments, such as mint sauce and a fish sauce that they called liquamen. They may have introduced the mustard plant to Britain, and this soon proved to be the basis for a popular form of English condiment, though like vinegar, it was also used medicinally.

English condiment tastes became gradually more sophisticated from the 16th century onwards, as English explorers and colonisers travelled the world. Pesto, which was invented in Italy in the 16th century, was known to the English upper classes of that time, while bechamel sauce, chutney, soy sauce, hollandaise, ketchup and mayonnaise all had their moments of popularity.

But as well as taking the best of condiments from Europe and elsewhere, English tastes led to the development of some unique and distinctively English sauces, particularly once the mass production methods of the later Industrial Revolution coincided with the inventiveness of the English food industry. The result was the production of some of the most iconic condiment brands in the world, sauces that are instantly identifiable with England and with English cooking.

HP Sauce

It is hard to imagine an English fridge or food cupboard that does not contain a bottle of HP Sauce. The HP stands for Houses of Parliament, and it is arguably as recognisable an institution as its namesake. This distinctive sauce, that was first made from tomatoes, malt vinegar, tamarind spice and molasses, was created by grocer Frederick Gibson Garton of Nottingham.

Garton sold the recipe in 1895 to Edwin Moore, who created the Midlands Vinegar Company. Moore had learned that a restaurant close to Parliament was selling the sauce and he had a plan to rename it. The result was a wave of national popularity and HP sauce has become an institution, the perfect accompaniment to a bacon sandwich or a plate of fish and chips.

Colman’s Mustard

There are many varieties of mustard in the world, but there is only one English Mustard. This fiercely yellow condiment, with a powerful kick, is made from the combination of two types of mustard seed: brown, which brings the heat, and white, which packs the punch. It is a versatile condiment, available in powder for stirring into recipes or paste, which can add extra kick to sandwiches and salads.

Colman’s has the distinction of being the most famous version of the original and one of the oldest condiment brands in England. It was established by James Colman in a Norwich watermill in 1814. Colman began producing mustard powder in 1823 and to this day, the company draws on local crops of Norfolk mustard. Colman was one of the good guys, as an employer, providing schooling and medical treatment for his employees, and Colman’s Mustard earned the Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1886, which is the biggest endorsement available at the time!

Marmite

This may not be a popular addition with some, but there is no denying the enduring appeal of this quintessentially English snack. It is, then, slightly disconcerting that its origins lie in Germany, with scientist Justus Von Liebig, who in the late 19th century found that it was possible to concentrate and eat brewers yeast, producing a rich and distinctive spread.

The new food product proved particularly popular in England, and in 1902, the Marmite Food Extract Company was created in Burton, near the famous Bass Brewery, which provided a source of yeast. The name Marmite is derived from the French name for the pot that the product was originally sold in and which decorates the modern Marmite label. If you’re a Marmite fan, you will find an impressive array of uses for it, from spreading on toast to adding to stews or pasta dishes.

Bovril

Not far behind Marmite in the divisive stakes is Bovril. Another dark extract, Bovril is made from beef, and was originally developed during the Franco Prussian war, as one way of ensuring more nutrition to the soldiers. Originally burdened with the name Johnson’s Fluid Beef, the product was rebranded as Bovril in 1886 and has built up a big following. Many an outing on a cold winter’s day has been enlivened (or ruined, depending on your view) by a flask or mug of this steamy meaty drink.

Worcestershire Sauce

Arguably the most English of sauces, Worcestershire Sauce is another example of colonial influences. The traditional story is that Landy Sandys, of Worcestershire, had commissioned two local chemists Wheely Lea and his colleague William Henry Perrins to create a spicy condiment based around a recipe she had obtained from the Chief Justice of India.

Their initial experiments were not successful. In fact, it is said that when they first tasted their sauce, made from brine, anchovies, vinegar, molasses and spices, it was nearly inedible. But after a few months of fermentation, in 1837, the flavours had settled and smoothed out to produce a pleasant and distinctive condiment, that was poised to become a household name.

By the Second World War, the sauce was regarded as an essential, and the Lea & Perrins company were asked to ship bottles to the front for the troops. These days it is used in a variety of recipes, from Bolognaise sauce to Welsh rarebit, and has become an essential in the English food cupboard.

Salad Cream

The divide between mayonnaise and salad cream is another mark of Englishness. Salad cream doesn’t have much of an audience outside these shores, but for many, there is no alternative.

A creation made from mustard, vinegar, oil, egg yolk and water, it was the first product produced by the famous Heinz company that was specifically aimed at the UK consumer. Created in Harlesden in 1914, it soon became popular when war time rationing hit most food products, particularly tomato ketchup, as tomatoes were in short supply. Salad cream proved a big hit and has been boosting salads and pepping up sandwiches in English kitchens ever since.

Branston Pickle

Branston Pickle has a popularity of its own, but it has also been boosted by its inclusion in the classic Ploughman’s Lunch, which usually consists of a crusty bread, a range of British cheeses, possibly an apple and a slice of pork pie, and definitely a dollop of Branston Pickle.

This is not the standard pickle, of the kind you might find in your burger. Traditional English pickle is made from chopped vegetables, sugar, vinegar and spices, and provides either warmth and spice or pleasing sweetness. Branston Pickle, first produced by the Branston factory, is the sweet version, and is made with onions, carrots, cauliflower, and gherkins, mixed in a tomato sauce.

The precise origins of this condiment are a mystery, but the generally accepted version is that a worker at the new Crosse & Blackwell factory in Branston, Mrs Graham, created it in a kitchen for her two daughters Ermentrude and Evelyn. The combination proved incredibly popular and Branston Pickle has been a big seller since the first jar was produced in 1922.

The Sweetness and Light of English Honey

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There are many examples of mankind and the natural world working together but one of the most fascinating is the production of honey. A typical bee colony can contain tens of thousands of bees, all of them working in harmony to create honey, and if correctly maintained and looked after, a thriving colony can produce some of the sweetest food products to delight the taste buds.

Honey is not only delicious, it is packed with health benefits, and it is not hard to see why it has been popular across all civilisations since the dawn of time. These days, the honey making process has been refined considerably, which means that when you go into any supermarket you’ll find a huge range of options, from mass-made and commoditised honey to artisanal and specialist brands.

The basis of honey production is the industry of the bees, who work hard to make honey so they will be able to eat during the winter. This means that when flowers are in bloom bees will often travel for miles to find flowers containing the precious nectar, which they extract with their tongues and store in special stomachs. Once they are full up with the good stuff, they head back to the hive and pass this nectar over to the worker bees, which transform it into honey through chewing. The honey is then stored in those familiar hexagonal honeycomb cells, and then sealed with wax.

Beekeepers are able to harvest this honey, but ensure that they only take the surplus amount, so the bees don’t starve. The honey can then be bottled or jarred for us to enjoy.

The beauty of honey is that individual hives in different areas can produce wildly different flavours. As with wine, there is a wide number of variables and other factors that can go into producing the final flavour, texture and colour. The plants and flowers that have been harvested, the way that the beekeeper processes the honey, and the type of honey bee involved, will all have an effect on the final product, which means that even honey harvested from the same flowers will taste very different in different parts of the world.

And although honey from Greece, Saudi Arabia and Italy can be popular, the English honey tradition is a long and proud one. Honey bees may have arrived on these islands around 9000 years ago when there was no such thing as the English Channel, and by the time the Romans arrived, the tradition of bee-keeping and honey production was well established.

Over the years, English honey production has faced numerous challenges, and right now, there are genuine concerns about the future of beekeeping, with a variety of factors combining to create a more difficult environment for English honey bees. So why not show your support for English honey producers by sampling some of the truly flavourful products out there.

Bees and Co – Wild Countryside British Honey

Based in the Peterborough area, Bees and Co have produced some fine honey products, and their Wild Countryside British Honey has been one of the most successful, landing a Great Taste Award in 2018. It is made from honey produced in the summer months when bees are able to gather pollen and nectar from the widest possible array of sources, including hedgerows, wild flowers and even  lime trees, which helps to give this particular honey a citrus edge.

This is a runny honey that has a unique floral flavour, and a versatility that means it is equally suitable for drizzling on porridge, stirring into your tea or using in any recipe.

Black Bee Honey – British Spring Honey

Black Bee are one of the most popular and well known of the English honey making brands and their British Spring Honey is a particularly well liked product. Their first venture into the world of soft set honey, this is a creamy and light product, produced by bees that have been foraging among spring flowers in the Somerset region, and it makes a perfect spreading honey. Black Bee also produce a Summer and Autumn version, each of which has a distinctive taste.

Keepr’s – Cotswold Honey

Another popular English honey producer, Keepr’s produce a range of distinctive local honeys, including this brand, collected from apiaries in the Cotswolds area. It’s a multi-floral honey that has been carefully developed to capture the unique flavour of Cotswold flowers. It’s particularly tasty when paired with toast, marmalade or jam at teatime or breakfast.  

Keepr’s – Oxford Honey

Another entry from Keepr’s on our list, and another 100% English honey. This one is produced by bees from apiaries in and around the city of Oxford, and like the Keepr’s Cotswold Honey, it has been lightly filtered, ensuring that it retains all the natural honey goodness. This is a honey that works well when spread on crumpets or toast, and also goes well in cup of peppermint tea.

Littleover Apiaries – Pure English Clear Honey

Littleover Apiaries produce popular raw honey products, all of which are cold extracted from hives ensuring minimal interference with the bees. Their organic honey is produced from a wide range of wildflowers, which are not contaminated with pesticides or chemicals, and their dedicated laboratory ensures that their honey is of a high quality. This brand is a liquid honey that has an intense, warming flavour. Ideal for spreading on toast, it also works well as a cooking ingredient or sweetener.

Paynes South Down Bee Farms – English Honey

Based on the South Downs, reaching across Sussex, Kent and Surrey, Paynes are able to draw on a wide array of flora for bees to forage, while the South Down National Park provides a safe and natural environment for them. In producing their honey Paynes go to extra lengths, ensuring that the hive locations are perfectly balanced to provide sufficient quality of nectar and honey.

Their time-tested beekeeping methods eschews modern technology and ensures minimal disruption to the hives, while honey harvesting is carried out twice a year, in May and August. The result is a wonderful local honey with a subtle, but beautiful taste.

Urban Bees – Regent’s Park Raw Honey

Although beekeeping is under pressure nationwide, due to habitat and pest challenges, one bright spot is the development of a thriving urban community of beekeeping. Urban Bees represent the best of this trend. Their bees harvest plants in the Regent’s Canal and Camley Street Natural Park areas, along with flowers growing in the railway sidings at Euston and St Pancras. They can also explore the many parks and residential gardens in the area. The result is this beautiful and fragrant floral honey that has proven to be a hit with consumers all over England.

More Tea with That? England’s Tea Time Biscuit Tradition

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There are few things more English than the traditional cup of tea and selection of biscuits, but the humble biscuit long predates the existence of England.

In fact, the earliest foods that could be called biscuits came from the Neolithic era, and were baked on stones, though archaeologists can’t be sure what form those early biscuits took. For the word biscuit, we have the French to thank, though it has a Latin root, referring to twice-cooked bread. The Romans themselves were partial to a biscuit, though their version was more like a rusk, produced through re-baking bread, ensuring that it would keep for longer.

By the height of the Middle Ages, the definition of biscuit had become more refined, as had the variety of biscuit types. There was a weird and wonderful array of proto-biscuits in England at this time, including wafers, made with a sweet batter and cooked over a fire. And by this time, biscuits had developed into a pleasurable food, often eaten at the end of meals, as a ‘digestive’.

There was still plenty of call for the traditional long-lasting biscuits, most notably in the Navy, where the need to develop enduring food for the long journeys associated with exploration and colonialism. The staple diet of sailors in the 18th century was salted meat and the biscuit, although this wasn’t exactly a chocolate digestive. These biscuits were hard to the point of being inedible, so its no surprise to learn the earliest surviving biscuit is a ship’s biscuit from 1784.

The more widespread availability of sugar from the middle of the 17th century, made possible through the horrors of the slave trade, affected all types of cuisine. This led to a degree of experimentation with biscuits and cakes, a development that was further fuelled by the adoption of Italian and French cooking influences, and the collapse of the guild system as more people started to bake their own biscuits. By the Victorian era, biscuits were widespread in English life, and as major food companies began to mass produce them, the biscuit came within reach of most English people.

Many of the biscuits that English people enjoy these days have a long history, and it is remarkable how enduring their popularity has been. Here are five of the best of English biscuits.

Bourbon

The Bourbon biscuit is a simple formula: two thin rectangles of dark-chocolate flavoured biscuit around a chocolate buttercream filling. It was first produced in England in 1910 by Peek Freans, based in Bermondsey in London, and was originally known as Creola. The Bourbon name, taken from the name of the French royal house, was added in the 1930s, and the biscuit has become immensely popular with English tea drinkers and biscuit eaters.

In fact, surveys have found that the Bourbon is one of the top tea-dunking biscuits for English people. Incidentally, the small holes in the biscuit are not just a distinctive design. They are there to ensure that steam can escape during the cooking process, so the biscuit doesn’t break up. Bourbons are popular in many countries, and are one of the most recognisable of English biscuits.

Custard Cream

Another enormously popular biscuit, both in England and throughout the wider UK, the custard cream is another sandwich-type biscuit, but this time the filling is a custard-flavoured mixture. Originally, the filling was buttercream, and this is still used in some home-made versions, but butter is an expensive product to use in biscuits, so custard cream filling is now generally made with a mixture that has a vanilla taste, making it close to the taste of custard made with custard powder.

The custard cream predates the bourbon by two years, having been first seen in 1908, when the elaborate design on the sandwich biscuit sections helped them to stand out. There have been various versions of the custard cream, employing a variety of fillings, ranging from lemon to coconut, but the custard filling remains dominant in one of the most popular English biscuits of all.

Rich Tea

Rich tea biscuits have some similarities to the digestive biscuits developed in Scotland, but this English product is distinctive. It is a sweet biscuit, made with flour, sugar, malt extract and vegetable oil, and have a surprisingly long history, dating back to the 17th century. It is believed that they were developed in the county of Yorkshire, and were originally known as tea biscuits, designed for the upper classes to dine on as a light snack between their meals.


The rich tea has become one of the most popular biscuits around, and makes an excellent tea-dunker. Many supermarkets and biscuit makers produce their own varieties, and the rich tea has also developed a following on the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta.

Ginger Nut

Another biscuit with a long history, ginger nuts were reportedly enjoyed in the UK from the 1840s and they were the best selling biscuit produced by the firm Huntley & Palmers between 1933 and the end of the Second World War. These days, they are widely eaten in England, the UK and in various other parts of the English-speaking world, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.

The ginger nut’s hard texture makes it perfect for dunking, which helps to explain its enduring popularity in England. And in fact, given how tough this biscuit can be on the teeth, a little light dunking is often advised to loosen it up. In some countries, ginger nuts are baked even harder, and are sometimes moulded into different shapes before being baked.

Jammie Dodger

The newest English biscuit on the shortlist, but the Jammie Dodger still has a long history, dating back to the 1960s. It was first produced by the Burton’s Biscuits company, who have produced a variety of well known biscuits over the years, but this is the most attractive of their classic products.

The Jammie Dodger is based on a simple idea of sandwich of two shortcake biscuits with heart shaped holes that reveal a jam filling. The jam is often described as raspberry flavour although it is not technically raspberry jam, as it has to be sufficiently adhesive to keep the two biscuit halves together. The design is particularly distinctive and a throwback to an earlier time, referencing the Queen of Hearts from the Lewis Carroll stories. A particular favourite with children, the Jammie Dodger continues to hold its own in the extremely competitive English biscuit market.

England’s Sweet Tooth

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English people famously have a sweet tooth, and most of us have memories of our childhood favourite sweets. You might think that a love of sweets is common place around the world, but in fact, England is famous for its range of attractive confectionary, so much so that visitors from other countries, particularly the USA and Australia, often take plenty of them home when they return, while there is a thriving export trade in English sweets and confectionery.

More than £3000 million is spent every year in the UK on chocolates, toffees, sweets and other confectionary every year, from traditional seaside rock to the latest in artisanal chocolate. And the taste for English sweets has led to the growth of traditional-style sweet shops, complete with jars of the old favourites and bags in which to put your treasure!

We can trace the origins of sweets to around 2000 BC when the ancient Egyptians were known to create sweet products from fruits, nuts and honey. Liquorice juice, which is extracted from the root of a leguminous plant, was also used, though for medicinal purposes. In England, sweets and confectionaries were luxuries, available only to the aristocracy, but the industrial revolution changed all that, and a combination of mass production technology and a fall in the price of refined sugar led to the creation of a range of new sweet products.

Many of the most popular sweets to have hit the big time in England were created within the last 120 years or so, and have met the challenge of changing fashion to delight successive generations of English folk. Here are some of the most enduringly popular English sweets.

Jelly Babies

A soft sweet designed to look like babies, they are made by several companies, though they were originally launched by Bassett’s of Sheffield in 1918, when they were known as Peace Babies, to mark the end of the First World War. Production was suspended during the Second World War, but they were relaunched as Jelly Babies in 1953 and proved hugely popular.

Jelly Babies that are manufactured in England are dusted in starch left from the manufacturing process, which distinguishes them from other versions, such as Australian jelly babies, that lack the dusty coating. The sweet has become a popular part of English culture. The late Beatles guitarist George Harrison famously once revealed that he liked jelly babies and was subsequently pelted with them at gigs, while the sweet is a favourite of Doctor Who.

Licorice Allsorts

One of the strangest but most iconic of English sweets was created by accident. In 1899, Sheffield entrepreneur and confectioner George Bassett’s biggest claim to fame was the fact that he had baked a giant cake to commemorate the end of the Crimean War. But in 1899, one of his salesman, who was showing off some of Bassett’s sweets to a prospective buyer, knocked trays full of sample sweets onto the floor, resulting in a jumble of confectionary. The buyer was so delighted by the effect of the jumbled sweets that he asked for the mix to be made deliberately. This unusual mix of sugar and licorice has proven irresistible and Bassett’s now produces millions of boxes every year.

Rock

There are few more distinctive English sweets than the humble stick of rock. A long cylinder of sugar flavoured with a variety of tastes and featuring the name of the seaside town where it is sold through the centre of the sweet, this is a ubiquitous and distinctly English holiday gift. It is believed that the rock we know today was invented by a Yorkshire confectioner in the 1880s, following a trip to Blackpool. The skill involved in producing those original sticks of rock is not to be underestimated and the stick of rock remains the quintessential holiday sweet.

Wine Gums

Although the name might suggest an adult-only sweet, there is no wine in the wine gum at all. The supposed creator of the wine gum, Charles Gordon Maynard, is alleged to have created the sweet to appeal to adults, giving them names such as port, sherry, champagne, burgundy, and claret, and matching the flavours of those drinks, if not the alcohol content. It is also believed that he had to work hard to convince the founder of the sweet company where he worked, who just happened to be his father, and a Methodist teetotaler, that there was no alcohol involved in their production.

Sherbet Fountain

Sherbet is these days sold in plastic tubes, although the original fountains were sold in paper packets. The fountain features a stick of licorice which supposedly can be bitten off to produce a straw through which the powdery sherbert can be sucked, though many prefer to dip the liquorice in the sherbet and lick it off. The sherbert in sherbert fountains is usually left without flavour, and features a more reactive chemical than traditional sherbert, which causes a fizzy foam to develop in your mouth.

Love Hearts

Love Hearts are an eyecatching sweet manufactured by Swizzels Matlow, and first seen in the 1950s. These are had, fizzy, tablet-shaped sweets decorated with heart shapes. The front of the sweet is embossed with a motto, and there are a variety of colours. The result is a distinctive sweet that fizzes in the mouth and that has proven perennially popular with schoolchildren.

Sweet and Tasty: How English Chocolatiers Make our Mouths Water!

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Chocolate is the ultimate indulgence, both a luxurious dessert base and a daily pick-me-up, and since it was first discovered by the Maya of Mesoamerica, chocolate in all of its forms has been delighting the human race, from South America to Siberia.

This delicious food product starts with the cacao bean, which comes from the Spanish translation of the Aztec word for the bean that chocolate came from: chcahuatl. The story goes that English traders added their own spin on the word, misspelling it as cocoa, which stuck.

The Mayan’s didn’t produce anything that we would recognise as chocolate. They dried and ground the beans before mixing them with water to make a drink that was bitter, frothy and often combined with chilli. When the Aztec empire conquered the Mayans, they embraced the drink. In fact, both groups believed that chocolate came from the gods. The Aztecs gave it as drink to victorious warriors after battle, used it during religious rituals, and even employed cacao beans as a form of currency. They called the drink derived from the cacao bean ‘xocolatl’ which may be the source of the modern word chocolate, although it may also come from ‘choqui’, meaning warmth.

After the Spanish colonised the region, the drink came back to Europe, and became a big hit. Originally it was used as a medicine, but modern chocolate was born when some Europeans tried sweetening it with sugar, honey or vanilla. The result was delicious and from the Spanish royal family, the drink spread rapidly among the European aristocracies.

The next stage in the development of chocolate came in 1828 when Coenraad van Houten of Amsterdam invented the ‘cocoa press’, which made it possible to remove the fat from a cacao bean, leaving a fine powder. This produced a tastier drink, and soon people started to add milk to it to enhance the luxury of the product. Then in 1847, JS Fry and Sons hit upon the idea of recombining the fat of the bean with the powder, adding sugar and setting it in moulds, thus creating the first chocolate bar, a product that was further refined by Daniel Peter of Switzerland, who added powdered milk to produce milk chocolate. Since then, chocolate has gone from strength to strength.

The supermarket shelves may be heaving with mass-produced chocolate, but there are a number of English artisan chocolatiers, who are producing a fabulous range of chocolate confection. Here are six of the best English chocolate makers to look out for.

Dormouse Chocolates – Manchester

The founder of Dormouse Chocolate, Isobel Carse, started making chocolate in her home back in 2015, even down to the peeling of the cacao beans. From those humble beginnings, her business has expanded and now operates out of Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse, producing micro batches of chocolate.

The core product is based on a combination of simple ingredients: cacao, sugar, and organic milk powder, but Dormouse also make a range of limited edition bars, such as the Christmas stollen bar, containing roasted almonds and cherries. And fans of white chocolate will enjoy the 39% Madagascan Toasted White, produced with caramelised milk powder, which has the distinction of being the only white bar to earn gold at the 2018’s Academy of Chocolate Awards. 

Land – East London

Land was founded by chocolatier Phil Landers, who launched the company after returning from travelling in Central America where he worked on a cocoa farm. From his base in East London, Landers hand sorts cocoa beans before going through the protracted process of roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding and conching, producing 60kg batches twice a week.

As well as using single origin beans from around the glob, Landers also works with local producers where possible. For example, his 65% Malt Dark Chocolate bar draws on malt barley grain from an East London brewery, and he works with a local forager to obtain London-based ingredients including cobnuts, fennel and alexander seeds. Land is also well known for producing an exquisite drinking chocolate, which is sold in some of London’s top eateries.

Pump St Bakery – Suffolk

As the name suggests, Pump St operates primarily as a bakery, in Orford, Suffolk, but it also turns out some of England’s best small batch bean-to-bar chocolate, which has won a host of awards. Like the bread products that are its staple, Pump St’s chocolate is built around the beauty of local sourcing, and it employs a host of close to home ingredients, including rye and sourdough breadcrumbs. And if the combination of bread and chocolate sounds ideal, you should definitely check out the Pump St limited edition bars, based around Panettone, Eccles cakes and Hot Cross Buns.

Creighton’s – Bedfordshire

Creighton’s was founded in 2010 by a mother-daughter combination, Andrea Huntingdon and Lucy Elliott, and has become famous for its small-batch, handmade chocolate as well as the innovative flavour combinations they come up with, including everything from ramen to retro biscuits. Creighton’s operates with an all-woman team of five and over the last ten years has expanded to the point where they can produce as many as 10,000 bars a week, with almost all the work carried out by hand.

Their distinctive bars incorporate ingredients from all over the UK, including Maldon sea salt, Scottish edible flowers, Bedfordshire-roasted coffee beans and Yorkshire biscuits. A particularly popular product from Creighton’s is the Spoon of Cereal bar, which features marshmallow-flavoured white chocolate with cereal hoops, and gin lovers should definitely check out the Pink Gin chocolate bar which is produced through a collaboration with Tatty Devine, a London jewellery maker.

Willie’s Cacao – Devon

Founded by chocolate maker Willie Harcourt-Cooze, Willie’s Cacao produces over 25 products, yet still relies on a low-tech approach, relying on antique machines and a hand-made ethos. Harcourt-Cooze employs 100% natural ingredients to produce small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate and employs a famously painstaking attention to detail, ensuring that the chocolate is tried and tested at each stage of the process, so each batch can take up to 21 days to produce. Known for its range of chocolate truffles and bars, Willie’s also produces a popular drinking chocolate. 

Solkiki – Dorset

Launched in 2015, Solkiki has earned an impressive collection of awards and prizes for their bean-to-bar vegan chocolate. In fact, the company has gathered over 70 international awards. Their core range is focused on high quality single-estate chocolate, produced in a building that is powered by renewable energy, and includes over 40 bars that cover the whole range from white to ultra dark.

Solkiki’s micro-batch chocolate, produced in batch sizes of less than 50kg, is a much sought-after product, which features local ingredients, including Dorset apples and home-grown chillies.

The Return of the English Champagne: the Rise of Perry

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Long before the advent of Champagne, people in England were drinking perry, a similarly luxurious drink with fine bubbles, produced from varieties of inedible pears. At one time there were over a hundred indigenous varieties of perry pear trees in England, mostly in the Three Counties area of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, and the evidence shows that perry making was established by the 1500s in this area.

The drink remained a favourite with the English for hundreds of years, but it began to fall out of favour in the 20th century, with orchards increasingly neglected, until in the 1960s, a Somerset brewer created the drink Babycham. This wasn’t perry, in fact, it was a mass produced sparkling drink made from Somerset dessert pears, but it reminded producers of the potential of the old perry tradition .

In the decades since, proper perry has been making a return. In 1996, perry production was protected in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire, through European Union Protected Geographical Indication status and it has now become a fashionable champagne alternative for hot summer days and warm evening. This has also been good news for the rural areas involved in perry making, as traditional perry pear varieties have thrived, many of them with unusual names such as, Merrylegs, Late Treacle, Mumblehead, Lumberskull, Huffcap, Longford, and Stinking Bishop.

The perry making process itself is complicated, largely down to the difficulties of working with the perry pear. This is a small, hard and sour fruit that offers a fleeting window of ripeness, while its juice spoils easily. You may also have to wait up to 20 years after planting a perry tree before you are able to enjoy any harvest. And yet, in the hands of a master perry marker, these pears can produce a drink that is golden and refreshing, with a complexity and flavour to match the best champagne.  

But those looking for the genuine perry experience, should be wary of many of the commercial pear ciders sold in supermarkets. In most cases, these are simply apple ciders mixed with pear juice or pear flavourites. True perry is made only from fermented perry pear juice, and while the complexities of its production mean it is unlikely to attract the attention of mass-market operators, there are fortunately a number of perry artisans keeping this English tradition alive.

Oliver’s – Bottle Conditions Medium

Tom Oliver is renowned as one of the best cider and perry producers in England, and his ability to produce gold from the perry pear is remarkable. Oliver’s bottle conditioned medium is an unfiltered, unpasteurised, unpreserved perry, that has preserved a host of intriguing flavours ranging from the merest hint of elderflower to the taste of tropical fruits.

Oliver’s – Fine Perry Keeved

Another classic Oliver’s perry, this showcases the process known as keeving. This is a technique used also in cider production, in which fermentation is halted before all the sugars in the fruit have been converted to alcohol. The result is a juice that still has some of its natural sweetness, and this is a perfect example of the craft; a golden coloured drink that provides an instant orchard experience.

Hogan’s – Vintage Perry

Allen Hogan’s traditional approach to perry, which he learned from a neighbour in Warwickshire, at a time when he was making cider, has earned him widespread praise. Based at the top of the Malvern Hills, Hogan’s draws fruit from the pear-growing counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, and the result is a delicate, well-rounded and complex, perry that has just the merest hint of farmhouse cheese, lemon sherbet and parma violets.  

Napton Cidery –  Medium Sweet Perry

Produced by a small-scale, family-run cidery, this is a single tree perry that has been slowly fermented with wild yeasts before being aged in oak. It’s a still, rather than sparkling perry, so it feels heavier on the tongue, and offers a full-on blast of perry fruitiness.

Dunkertons – Organic Perry

Julian Dunkerton’s perry operation was founded in Herefordshire by his parents in the 1980s and nowadays the Dunkertons organic perry orchard features over a dozen varieties of perry pear. This organic perry has plenty of fizz, along with a lovely floral aroma and a touch of sweetness, though it feels extremely fresh. Among the pears used to make this perry is a variety known as Merrylegs; an appropriate name for such a delicious golden treat.

Gwatkin – Farmhouse Perry

The perry-makers at Gwatkin are known for their ability to extract the maximum in flavour from the perry pear. They offer a wide variety of perries ranging from single variety sparkling specials to full flavoured blends, and the Farmhouse Perry is undoubtedly one of their best. It’s produced from a mixture of old fashioned perry pear varieties that create a drink with plenty of sweet fruit on the palate, balanced with a fresh, sharp, acidic bite.  

Bushel and Peck – Perry

Bushel and Peck is a small-scale producer based in Gloucestershire, which sources only locally obtained pears, for a distinctive product. Their perry is a lovely mixture of smooth fruit and precisely crafter acidic edge. The relative rarity of the fruits used to make this perry ensure that this drink is always in demand, so it is definitely one to pick up if you get the chance.