All Posts By

Susan Holtham

Living

How to choose the best Christmas turkey

6th December 2017

Not sure which turkey to get? Once you’ve made the decision to ditch cheap commercially reared birds (that never see the light of day indoors and are grown in ultra-quick time), it can be tricky to know which higher-welfare free range one to choose. After all, the quality of outdoor life can vary still for free range birds and depends on the methods used by each farm.

To clear things up, here’s a quick guide to our farmers’ birds so you can choose the best turkey for you and your family this Christmas.

Fosse Meadows Farm, Leicestershire

Free range turkey crowns and whole turkeys

How to choose the best turkey this Christmas

Nick and Jacob at Fosse Meadows farm, where ‘happy birds taste better’.

 

Nick and Jacob rear traditional free range Bronze turkeys at Fosse Meadows Farm. They enjoy a natural diet of oats and foraged grass and are grown slowly over six months. Raised to the highest welfare standards, these turkeys live life on the wild side scratching around the farm’s hedgerows. Bronze turkeys are a little gamey and have an essence of wild turkey about them. Fosse’s turkeys are wax plucked to perfection and game hung for up to 14 days for a superior flavour and texture. Nick says: “We are transparent. Our turkeys are reared on the farm and slaughtered on the farm. We slaughter in a traditional process which none of the supermarkets will be able to do.” Catch their turkeys living a truly free-range life in this video.

Pipers Farm, Devon

Free range whole Bronze turkey

How to choose the best turkey this Christmas

Pipers Farm founders Peter and Henri Greig with grass fed cattle on their award-winning farm in Cullompton, Devon.

 

Pipers Farm founders Peter and Henri Greig rear Bronze turkeys in Cullompton in Devon. Together they chose them for their ability to grow slowly and produce beautifully textured meat. Their birds hatch in early spring and spend their first few weeks feathering up in a toasty barn. After that, they’re released into cider orchards where they eat a totally natural diet of simple cereals, herbaceous forage and windfall apples until they have reached natural maturity. Once ready, each bird is dry plucked each one by hand and then hung for a least 12 days. Peter and Henri say: ‘We started Pipers Farm over 20 years ago, with the goal to produce healthy meat that we, as a family, could enjoy eating with complete confidence.’ See their turkeys roam amongst the orchards in this video.

Frenchbeer Farm, Dartmoor

Organic free-range whole turkey

How to choose the best turkey this Christmas

Mike Malseed with his family’s free-ranging organic Bronze turkeys.

 

The Malseed family rear their slow growing Bronze turkeys at Frenchbeer Farm in Dartmoor National Park. The day old birds (poults) are hatched early in the summer. From start to finish are fed a simple traditional cereal based and certified organic diet. When big enough, the turkeys are given access to the surrounding fields and meadows. Here they forage on grasses, herbs and seasonal berries. After six months the birds have reached maturity and carry a layer of fat which ensures the meat to be tender and succulent when cooked. Crucially, this layer of fat is found only in the traditional rearing of the Bronze breed. The birds are then dry plucked by hand and game hung for 10 days to further enhance flavour and texture.

High-welfare farm-fresh turkeys have a superior flavour and slightly denser texture. Our farmers’ truly free-ranging turkeys are grown for at least twice as long as the average supermarket turkey, are never plastic wrapped and come in handy cardboard box. All of our farmers’ turkeys are all free range, exercise outside and encounter no routine antibiotics. Wave good bye to dry, flavourless mass-produced commercial birds.

View our full range of turkeys and get everything you need for an unforgettable Christmas.

Cooking

How to cook the perfect slow-grown turkey

5th December 2017

First time on turkey duty? Panicking over a dry crown? Can’t get to sleep over a Mr Miyagi-like repeat of the ‘foil on’ or ‘foil off’ question? With roast turkey being the traditional choice in Britain at Christmas, have it deliciously under control with our foolproof guide on how to roast a whole turkey.

So take a deep breath, pop on some Perry Como, and pour yourself a glass of something lovely – because this year, you’ve got Christmas.

How to cook the perfect slow-grown turkey

First things first, which kind of turkey is the best?

Don’t let the family Christmas dinner down before you’ve even switched the oven on. As with all farmed animals, there can be a huge variation in the way your turkey is reared and grown. Choose your turkey wisely and cook it correctly and you should be able to shake off any fears of a lacklustre, dry-breasted bird.

The cheapest commercially reared turkeys you can buy will spend all of their lives in dark, crowded barns and will never see or spend any time in natural daylight. The low light reduces in-fighting due to a lack of stimulation, a crowded barn means less is spent on housing the birds and a lack of outdoor exercise enables the birds to gain weight more quickly, and in turn reduce production costs.

Higher-welfare organic, free-range and slow-grown turkeys on the other hand, spend time socialising outdoors, pecking at forage in grassy pastures and exercising in woodland. These birds lead an incredibly different life. However, the quality of outdoor life can vary still for free-range reared birds – legally, free-range birds must have outdoor access for at least half of their lives and a minimum allowance of four square metres of outside space. So what to do?

Absolutely expect the quality to be reflected in the cost when it comes to turkeys. The best birds come from small farms who can guarantee lots of space, grassy pastures and forest for them to run around in. Turkeys reared in this environment tend to be grown more slowly than the cheapest indoor reared supermarket turkeys, which on average are grown over three months compared to the six of our farmers’. In this time they build muscle and fat from exploring outdoors. They develop a deeper flavour and a firmer texture that’s impossible to achieve in commercial farming – and crucially, means they’re less likely to dry out in cooking.

Take a look at our guide on how to choose the best turkey for a helping hand.

The easiest way to roast a fresh free-range turkey for Christmas

Keep things simple. Yes, you can brine, deep-fry and even slow-cook your turkey, but to keep stress levels down, make your life easy and strip things back to basics. When you’re starting with an already beautiful high-welfare, slow-grown, truly free-range and superior quality bird, you don’t need to go messing about it too much with to make it amazing. That’s not so say you can’t add your own flourishes along the way, but to start, stick to simple. This easy method is foolproof, so there’s no reason to be afraid of the biggest bird you’ll cook all year.

How to cook the perfect slow-grown turkey

Step 1 

Take out the fridge for an hour (at least)

Remove all packaging, string and any giblets from the turkey. Take it out of the fridge for at least an hour (you can leave it out for up to four hours), before cooking and pat the skin dry. Removing it from the fridge before roasting it allows your bird to come up to room temperature and makes for more accurate cooking times. Remember, you don’t need to wash it because the bacteria will be killed in the cooking.

Step 2

Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 250ºC for 20 minutes. Place your bird in a large roasting tray, either on a bed of roughly cut carrots and onions, or simply on a rack on that sits above the base of a baking tray.

Step 3

Season to perfection

Season the turkey with a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the whole bird in olive oil. You can use a brush for this or just get down and dirty and use your hands. For extra flavour, throw in a half a lemon and a skinned onion sliced in half into the cavity.

Step 4

Use timings and do not overcook

Cover the bird loosely in foil, cook at 230ºC for the first 30 minutes, and then reduce to 190ºC for the remaining time (20 minutes per 500g or per 1lb 2oz). At 30 to 50 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil.

The British Turkey Information Service advise that if a turkey is over 4kg, the total cooking time = 20 minutes per kilogram + 90 minutes. When using foil, the timings to work to are:

4kg = 2 hrs 50 minutes

5 kg = 3 hrs 10 minutes

6 kg = 3 hrs 30 minutes

7 kg = 3 hrs 50 minutes

8 kg = 4hrs 10 minutes

9 kg = 4hrs 20 minutes

It’s very important not to overcook turkey, which so often leads to disappointment when it come out dry. Always and keep an eye on your bird by testing an hour or so before the end of your calculated timings. Test the turkey by poking a clean knife or skewer into the fattest part of the bird or inside of the thigh – when the juices run clear, it’s done, or use a meat thermometer. Which leads us to…

How to cook the perfect slow-grown turkey

For a perfectly cooked turkey, use thermometers (yes, that’s more than one)

To ease any doubts on whether your turkey is cooked, use both a meat thermometer and an oven thermometer. Use your meat one to check the temperature at the inner thigh, outer thigh and breast. Use your oven one to keep tabs on the actual temperature of your oven.

Commercially raised supermarket turkeys should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 72ºC. Slow-grown, free-range turkeys raised on small-scale farms and from a trusted high-welfare source can be cooked to 65ºC as they should be a safer product to eat.

Step 5

Give it a rest

When your turkey is cooked, leave it to rest. Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. Take it out of the oven, place onto a serving platter and cover in lots of foil. Turkeys that weigh 4 to 6 kilograms should be left to rest for around 1½ hours and ones from 6 to 10 kilograms can rest for up to two hours. Don’t worry, it won’t go cold. Your bird will carry a lot of residual heat even outside of the oven. Reserve the juices from the bottom of the tray to make an awesome nutrient-rich gravy.

Why do cooked turkeys need resting?

This resting period is essential to helps the meat to relax and take on more of its juices. A dry bird can happen as a result of a deadly combination of overcooking and not enough rest time, throwing all your good work (and that of the farmers’) out of the window. Have faith in your timings, your tastebuds will thank you for it!

Our free-range and organic traditional Bronze turkeys are lovingly slow-grown by Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows Farm in Leicestershire, Peter and Henri Greig at Pipers Farm in Devon and The Malseed family at Frenchbeer Farm in Dartmoor National Park. They are never plastic wrapped and come in handy cardboard box.

High-welfare farm-fresh turkeys have a superior flavour and slightly denser texture. Our farmers’ truly free-ranging turkeys are grown for at least twice as long as the average supermarket turkey. Wave good bye to dry, flavourless mass-produced commercial birds.

Living

A guide on how to have the ultimate ethical and green Christmas

30th November 2017

Don’t let your Christmas be destined for landfill. From presents with provenance to DIY decorations, here’s your ultimate guide to a more ethical and green Christmas.

green Christmas

Jazz up festive napkins with fresh herbs and twine. Easy.

There are many things in life that are taken over by the big corps – don’t let Christmas become one of them. As retailers are doing their darnedest to get you to part with your pennies and line their pockets (thanks to 7-foot monsters, Paddington Bear and big, big budgets), there is another way. This Christmas, we invite you to make your mark by embracing an ethical and green spirit, so you can leave a smaller one on the planet. Together, let’s not forget what really matters this festive season.

Gift’s galore: what is a good green Christmas gift?

Christmas is undoubtedly a time for giving and receiving, sharing and loving (Joey knows it). It’s also an ideal time to exercise your spending power wisely and give a meaningful gift that your friends/mother/lover will rave about in years to come (rather than regret the skincare set that was ⅓ off but looks dodgy at home, away from the shiny high street lights). Broaden your ideas of what a gift could look like and you’ll set the wheels in motion for winning the in-family award for ‘most thoughtful gift 2017’.

Gift an experience

Photo: Hobbs House Bakery/Mark Lord.

How about the gift of a bakery course with the Fabulous Baker Brothers? Photo: Hobbs House Bakery/Mark Lord.

Try giving an experience or course where the lucky recipient will try or learn something new (this also handily requires little or no packaging). There are plenty of online and in-real-life courses out there to satisfy every curiosity. Help someone get to grips with all things sustainable with a course at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys, Wales, where they cover all aspects of green living: from environmental building, eco-sanitation and renewable energy to energy efficiency and organic growing. Help save ancient woods under threat and create new native woodland in the UK buy gifting a membership to the Woodland Trust.

If they’re a foodie, consider fermentation, pickling and jam making with our award-winning producer Newton & Pott in Hackney or a casual afternoon whipping up British free-range charcuterie in the Norfolk countryside with Marsh Pig for the wannabe self-sufficient carnivore. Send them to Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury for a course by the Fabulous Baker Brother Tom Herbet or for the ultimate last minute gift pop ’em a Farmdrop gift card. There’s always foraging and mushroom hunting to be done too, just so it’s clear your friends and family know you’re a funghi to be with

Give less, give better

Don’t bundle up on gifts. Tempting as it may be to add on a few little extras here and there, it’s makes for a much better experience for the giftee to bask in the glory of one lovely, wonderful thing that needs no accompaniments. By giving less you’re also contributing less to the vicious cycle of cheap and disposable items destined for landfill. Wave goodbye to presents without provenance and give a warm welcome to lovingly-made homegrown items that’ll last and are made by ethical traders where the people behind them are treated fairly.

Try Nudie jeans – they’ll literally last a lifetime with their free repair service and have transparent production to boot. Or how about a mighty fine umbrella? Ince Umbrellas are the UK’s oldest makers and they pride themselves in a sustainable supply chain. Rest easy in the knowledge that the one thing someone living in Britain will always need is a proper good brolly.

Sustainably secondhand

Pre-used goodies might not scream Christmas, but you’ll be amazed at what you can find on sites such as Preloved or Oxfam where you truly can contribute to the reduce, reuse, recycle cause. Many items listed are brand new and have never been used at all, and some perhaps just once for a special occasion. If you have a certain gift in mind, spend a little time searching and you could save a lot of money and help the planet out too.

Green Christmas tree, oh green Christmas tree

green Christmas. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

To buy a real tree or not to buy a real tree? Did you know 8 million Christmas trees are felled each year in the UK? The majority of which land in the tip a few weeks later. Some will say it’s not a proper Christmas unless you have the scent of pine wafting around the living room and yet many of the trees available in garden centres will have been intensively farmed on a large scale. Some may even have arrived at the petrol station forecourt via a long-haul journey from overseas.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are ways to bring the German-born tradition of a decorated tree indoors without leaving a huge environmental footprint. 95% of Christmas trees grown in the UK are from farms that provide habitat for wildlife. So whilst a freshly cut spruce is greener than an imported fake tree, here’s what to look out for for a green Christmas tree.

Know where your tree is grown

To make sure your tree is grown in the UK, check out the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved trees (as well as cards and wrapping paper or even paper-craft to decorate the tree with and keep little ones busy). These trees are grown in a well-managed forest, minimising the use of pesticides and protecting forest plants and animals. The Forestry Commission have a list of Christmas tree sales centres where you can buy a sustainably grown, local tree. The Christmas Forest is small and independent family business who provide sustainable trees from 10 sites across London (or you can order online). Every tree cut after its nine-year growing cycle is replaced, and for each tree sold, another is donated so it can be grown by a family in Africa through Tree Aid.

Go locally grown or organic

If you can’t get an FSC tree, you could try sourcing one that is organically or locally grown by a nearby farmer, which can provide benefits in terms of pesticide use and carbon footprint reduction as well as the added benefit of organic Christmas tree farms providing a rich habitat for wildlife. To find a retailer selling organic trees, head to the Soil Association’s website.

Rent, reuse or recycle a tree

Did you know it’s possible to rent a tree? You’ll receive your tree in a pot and it’ll be returned to the ground after Christmas so it can happily live on. Try Forever Green Christmas Trees in Essex. Or try reusing a potted tree or using an existing (i.e. secondhand) fake tree year after year and win brownie points in the reducing-waste department. If you do go for a real cut tree, make sure it does some good to the environment by giving it to the council and recycling it – it’ll be shredded and then go on to be compost or wood chip mulch. Check with your council on their Christmas tree recycling scheme or try www.letsrecycle.com.

Hello Christmas dinner (and some)

Know where your food comes from

There’s almost nothing sorrier than scrambling around a crowded supermarket, fending off the rest of your neighbourhood for the last sad bag of sprouts. By avoiding the stress of the last minute supermarket dash not only will you save yourself time and energy, you’ll also avoid mass-produced food without provenance that’s been sitting around in distribution centres reaching your plate. Not what you want for your festive feast, aka best-meal-of-the-year, right?

Source local food where you know how it’s been produced and where it’s come from. How can you know how your Turkey was raised? Go for a free-range or organic turkey from a source you trust. (Catch farmers Peter and Henri Greig who started Pipers Farm ‘over 20 years ago, with the goal to produce healthy meat that we, as a family, could enjoy eating with complete confidence’ and Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows with their turkeys on video).

Make a meal of your leftovers

The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy at Christmas. Save your pennies and the planet by planning in leftover dishes that you and the gang will really look forward to. Try a few simple tricks and tips, such as throwing leftover herbs into a frittata or going hell for leather on a cracking bubble and squeak. Make stock by roasting turkey bones and simmering them with water and leftover herbs. Be the ultimate Christmas multitasker and leave it to simmer whilst your favourite festive film is on. Leave to cool and freeze in an ice cube tray and it’ll see you into the new year. And there’s always room for turkey tacos and a panettone bread and butter pudding

Say goodbye to BOGOFFS

Avoid waste by resisting erroneous buy-one-get-one-free deals. Don’t end up lumbered with a mountain of not-so-special sweet treats you and your family simply won’t need after all that tasty turkey and nut roast. Notoriously designed by supermarkets to get you to buy more, BOGOFFS aren’t there to help you, but help line their pockets.

green Christmas

Win ultimate thrifter by whipping up gift tags using old Christmas cards.

Decorations and all the trimmings

During the festive season alone, in Britain we create 3 million tonnes of waste (gulp). We use over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which creates over 83 square kilometres of rubbish – that’s enough to cover Guernsey (blimey, let’s just call the whole thing off…). Together, we can ease contributions to the rubbish pile by using recycled paper and recycling it again after use. As an alternative to buying anything new, try using old wallpaper, posters or even newspapers to artfully wrap gifts. Get your crafting hat on and embrace homemade decorations such as timeless paper chains and easy-as-pie snowflakes. Try our 5 easy and sustainable DIY craft ideas with what you have at home and impress your guests with your crafty-prowess. Soon enough you’ll find yourself saying: ‘You won’t be able to find these beautifully handcrafted… foraged in a shop’.

Sick of the big companies owning Christmas? Big corps pay themselves at this time of year. We give our producers ¾ of the retail price all year round. Other retailers give as low as ¼. Have more ideas for a green Christmas? Share your tips below.

Pre-order your free-range festive turkey and centrepieces and browse everything you need for a stress-free Christmas at farmdrop.com. Go behind-the-scenes in this video at Fosse Meadows farm and discover their secret to slow-grown poultry.

This article originally featured on the Farmdrop blog in December 2016 and has since been updated.

Living

7 of the best cosy sustainable London pubs and restaurants

17th November 2017

At this time of year, there are days when nothing will do but cosying up in a nook and hunkering down on a hot plate of bang-in-season food with a juicy glass of red (or two). Always hungry for eating up the best of what the capital has to offer, we couldn’t resist sharing our top London pubs and restaurants to hang out in, get warm, and get fed – places run by people who share our belief in championing small producers, local farms and the provenance behind their dishes, whilst enjoying a darned good eatings.

1. The Dairy, Clapham

London sustainable pubs and restaurants

With a sourcing philosophy that makes us swoon, the Dairy knows how to do British seasonal eating at its unpretentious finest. The bar and bistro’s reclaimed interior is home to chef Robin Gill’s (Noma and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons alumni) sumptuous small plates and hail from ‘sea’, ‘land’ and ‘garden’ – their actual rooftop garden of herbs and vegetables and their own beehives. The changing seasons and honest flavours of quality ingredients are championed, inspiring dishes such as ‘delicia pumpkin, toasted seeds and almond milk’ and ‘charred English leeks, smoked yolk, chestnut’.

Alice, Buyer, says: “The in-house baked bread is amazing and their tasting menus are really imaginative, varied and reasonable too.”

Alice, Team Chef, says: “The menu is clever without trying too hard. I love it’s sharing plates that don’t have too much dairy (despite the name!).”

(Our team really love it here.)

The Dairy, 15 The Pavement, Clapham Oldtown, London, SW4 0HY

2. The Harwood Arms, Fulham

cosy sustainable pubs and restaurants London

Have you paid a visit to London’s first and only pub to hold a Michelin star? Nestled in the backstreets of Fulham, its setting might be casual and relaxed but the industrious team are serious about sustainable provenance. Brought to you by chef Brett Graham of Notting Hill’s acclaimed The Ledbury, chef Mike Robinson behind The Pot Kiln pub in Berkshire (heralded as the ‘home of field to plate food’), and Edwin Vaux of the famed Vaux Brewery, together they champion the best in British produce with a focus on game and wild food. There’s also a rooftop garden providing vegetables and salads from which Head chef Sally brings her experience at Claridges, The Ledbury and Elystan to comforting heights in cauliflower croquettes, game scotch eggs, venison brawn, lemon curd doughnuts and Instagram-worthy Michelin star roasts. Haunch of fallow Berkshire deer anyone?

Rosanna, Marketing Assistant says: “I really recommend it – it’s serious food with provenance but it genuinely still feels like a warm and friendly pub. Word of warning, book ahead for the roast!”

The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QP

3. The Smokehouse, Islington

London cosy sustainable pubs and restaurants

Coined one of London’s best smokehouse restaurants by the Evening Standard, chef Neil Rankin (formerly of fellow smoky stalwart Pitt Cue) has nailed the art of rich and punchy flavour with a tenderness that simply can’t come about from relying on big ol’ smoke to do all the legwork. It’s certainly not all meat and grease at The Smokehouse. A beautiful boozer that’s cosily lit by candlelight indoors and fairy lights in a secluded garden outdoors, blackboards hanging from simply decorated walls proudly display the restaurant’s transparent sourcing philosophy (nestled next to a specials bursting with excellent coal-grilled prime cuts and slow cooked specialities). Serving up information on the sourcing and farms behind their meat, fish, and fruit and vegetables alongside the sustainable English oak that goes into their smokers, quality and provenance reign supreme whilst delivering on deliciousness. Also, anywhere with a ‘This week we’re butchering’ board wins our hearts.

Julien, Head of Marketing, says: “All the food is really good! It’s well sourced with a fantastic charcuterie board and cosy dining room.”

The Smokehouse, 63–69 Canonbury Rd, Islington, London, N1 2DG

4. The Marksman, Bethnal Green

London cosy sustainable pubs and restaurants

This East-End boozer (yes, it really still is a pub with a bar, extremely local beers on tap, and wood-clad walls), hit headlines for making it’s mark (sorry) as Michelin’s pub of the year 2017. Having already established itself with locals as a haven for excellent execution in British fare since its refurbishment in 2015 by two former St John chefs, Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram, the inspectors said they enjoyed the “devilled mussels on toast, skate with shrimps and turnip tops, and pheasant and trotter pie – all carefully cooked, perfectly balanced and full of flavour”. Inspired by the rich and diverse culinary history of London, its menu focuses on the best of British seasonal produce and the devil is in the detail. Dive into horseradish cream, homemade relish, and ‘fried potatoes’ – a heavenly mash up of fondant potato meets giant triple-cooked chips. Or book the gang into a seasonal feast in their recently opened private dining room.

Lizzie, Recipe Developer, says: “Love their spot-on snappy service and incredible, honest, no-faff food. It’s the perfect place for a Sunday roast.”

The Marksman, 254 Hackney Road, London, E2 7SJ

5. The Three Stags, Kennington

London sustainable pubs and restaurants

Just over the road the Imperial War Museum, this classic Victorian high-windowed pub is a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The proprietors are passionate about provenance and the sustainability of people as well as the environment – the roof is home to a beehive surrounded by pots of herbs and proceeds from the sale of their raw unfiltered ‘Lambeth realness in a jar’ honey are donated to a children’s sanctuary project in Bali. The pub lists the suppliers of their Welsh lamb, line caught fish, free-range meats and homegrown fruit and vegetables and all scraps are composted.

Susan, Content Manager, says: “Camp out in the glass-walled corner booth ‘Chaplin Corner’ and while away the hours over a sharing slow roasted whole shoulder of lamb.”

The Three Stags, 67-69 Kennington Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7PZ

6. The Pear Tree, Fulham

London sustainable cosy pubs and restaurants

Off the beaten track and tucked away behind Charing Cross Hospital, this quintessential neighboured Victorian pub ramps up the comfort factor with its tartan throws and open fire. The menu changes constantly depending on the ingredients available from a local market, resulting in classic British gastropub dishes happily reliant on what’s in season. An oasis of comfort in one of the oldest buildings in the area, the pub is complete with booth-style benches, candlelight in the evening and a pear-tree shaded garden.

Myles, Senior Developer, says: “Cozy atmosphere, good food and tucked away from the high street so it’s less busy.”

The Pear Tree, 14 Margravine Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 8HJ

7. Franklin’s, East Dulwich

London cosy and sustainable pubs and restaurants

Franklin’s occupies a neat corner spot of a converted boozer on Lordship Lane and takes the provenance of its produce seriously. The restaurant is run in partnership with actor and celebrity Masterchef finalist Neil Stuke who owns the farm shop of the same name opposite. His father worked his way up from the Army Catering Corps to the Savoy as a chef, and opened his own restaurant in Sussex where Stuke worked his first job. With a menu of seasonal British dishes made with fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and cheeses sourced from named Kent farms and the same small specialist producers that stock the farm shop, Neil says: “I believe in small producers, provenance, zero air miles, no packaging..I’m about small local shops, anti-supermarket, so [having the shop] it was an emotional thing.” We’re right with you there, Neil.

Gem, Head of Operations, says: “A great local spot for a proper British seasonal supper.”

Franklins, 157 Lordship Lane, London, SE22, 8HX

Fancy some more? Meet the ethical restaurants backing better food and farming and bars pushing zero-waste boundaries.

This article originally appeared on the Farmdrop blog in November 2016 and has been updated.

Farming

Thank you Tinder for bringing Dorset’s answer to Greek strained yoghurt

22nd September 2017

Discover how three generations of dairy farming and a fateful Tinder encounter led to Dorset’s award winning small-batch, strained yoghurt – Britain’s answer to the Greek stuff. Alex Rawe, co-founder of The Dorset Dairy Company reveals all.

The Dorset Dairy Co - strained yoghurt

Co-founders of The Dorset Dairy Company Alex Rawe and her fiancé Dan

What’s the story behind the Dorset Dairy Co?

It all started 60 years ago when Dan’s Grandad moved to Crib House Farm in Stalbridge and started producing milk with just 20 cows. Dan was 18 years old when he became the third generation of the family to work on the farm. Given that we had access to vast amounts of milk, we started looking into ways we could process it. We had a great time experimenting making cheddar, ricotta and kefir on the AGA, but the yoghurt, strained through muslin, was an immediate success. The more we looked into it, the more we realised there was a gap in the market for a healthy artisanal product.

Tell us a little about how you and Dan met.

My grandparents retired in Dorset and I would try to visit them once a month. One fateful Christmas my sister and I thought we’d check out Tinder…Next thing I know, a handsome farmer asks me out for dinner! Nine months later I quit my job and moved down to Dorset. It was quite the lifestyle change but I couldn’t be happier and we’re getting married next year.

The Dorset Dairy Co - strained yoghurt

Alex and Dan’s Greek-style strained yoghurt in action

What kind of yoghurts do you make?

We make two types of yoghurt, Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt and Fat Free Dorset Strained Yoghurt. The whole milk yoghurt is smooth and creamy, while the fat free yoghurt has a more tangy flavour. They both make a filling breakfast or snack, not to mention a handy cooking ingredient.

How do you make them?

Dan fills up the milk trolley with fresh morning milk, wheels it across the yard into the yoghurt room and pumps it into a vat. We don’t homogenise our milk or add thickeners, nor do we process the yoghurt to make it smoother – meaning each batch is unique. All we do is pasteurise it and add the live bio cultures required to make yoghurt. We then pour the mixture into cloth bags and hang them up to strain out the water and lactose, the old fashioned way. The result is a luxuriously creamy textured proper Dorset-style yoghurt, which is packed with protein and essential minerals and is also low in sugar.

We are very much an artisan producer: our product doesn’t have a complex food chain as the milk comes straight from the parlour to the yoghurt room, and our straining process isn’t mechanised. We use over 3 litres of milk to make 1 kilo of yoghurt. We’re yet to come across any other company in the UK who makes yoghurt this way.

What’s inspired you recently?

Dan’s reading The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris and he’s constantly quoting from it. Personally, I was very impressed by one of our bulls eating a giant beetroot in one go.

Discover more about The Dorset Dairy Co.

Congratulations to The Dorset Dairy Co for winning a 2-star Great Taste Award 2017 for their Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt!

Farming

How fishing got ethical, thanks to this Plymouth collective

20th September 2017

The Plymouth sustainable fish collective Sole of Discretion are turning the industry on its head.

Sustainable fishing with Aaron Lidstone's Happy Days boat

Sustainable fishing with Aaron Lidstone in his Happy Days boat, a fisher with Sole of Discretion

Ever wonder why controversy about commercial sea fishing never seems to go away? Britain’s fishermen and women are faced with an industry in decline. Did you know that for the cod, haddock and plaice sold in a supermarket at around £15 per kilo, UK fishermen receive between £1.20 to 2.40 per kilo? Not only that, but the current system means that those who fish with the environment in mind receive the same market driven prices as those who don’t.

Fed up with a failing system and the dramatic fall in the number of UK small-scale fishers – from around 10,000 to around 2,500 in just ten years – former restaurateur Caroline Bennett realised a real solution could only be found in the creation of a whole new supply chain. Here she reveals how she did just that, by creating a social enterprise that protects the marine environment through ethically caught fish called Sole of Discretion.

Caroline Bennet, sustainable fishing pioneer and founder of Sole of Discretion

Caroline Bennett, sustainable fishing pioneer and founder of Sole of Discretion

How did you come up with the idea?

Sole of Discretion started with my background in running Japanese restaurants since 1994, when I setup the first rotating sushi restaurant in the country. At the time, the way the supply chain worked meant that you weren’t able to trace to how fish were caught, let alone when they were caught, raising issues on traceability as well as quality too. I had worked with the fishing supply chain for nearly 20 years and hadn’t found a solution through the existing model. So I thought ‘stuff it’ – if you can’t find a way of working with existing people to find the fishermen who want to work with you can do it to yourself. That’s when I realised I needed to create a completely new supply chain.

What drives your mission?

There are many good fishers out there looking after the quality of their catch and fishing with environmental sensitivity. And yet they get the same market driven prices for their catch as everyone else – many are on the verge of giving up. Furthermore, the industry’s supply chain slows down the delivery of fish, and just isn’t geared up for keeping track of catches. Even despite some significant progress in recent years, such as the Marine Stewardship Council’s Chain of Custody scheme, many fish counters can’t tell us when their fish was landed, or by which boat, and sometimes even in which country! This is where Sole of Discretion comes in. We want to create a mechanism to financially reward the fisherman who are the best custodians of our seas.

What makes your fishing ethical?

Our focus on ethical provenance has three aspects; we look at sustainability from an environmental, social and quality point of view. Our skippers own their own boats and as a Community Interest Company they are paid an agreed price in advance rather than market price and profits go straight to small-scale fishers and their communities. The price is set based on what the fishers were receiving this time last year plus a small premium. We’re also working with Exeter University to help us identify best fishing practice.

A Sole of Discretion diver about to take the plunge

A Sole of Discretion diver about to take the plunge

Let’s start with the environment. The impact of fishing on marine life is clearly a problem for the industry. How are you different?

The biggest differentiator between our fish and others is that our fishers use very selective fishing methods. Hand line fishing with a single line is one of the oldest ways to fish and has the least environmental impact of any fishing method (although diving also has as little impact).

All of our fishers’ boats are under 10 metres long. When we use slightly bigger boats it is with static fishing nets that aren’t towed through the water – this is what Beam Trawlers do and is considered one of the most destructive forms of fishing as they damage the seabed. The static nets of our fishers do not damage or disturb the communities of fish that live on or in the seabed. There’s also a positive carbon impact too because fuel usage is much less on smaller boats than compared to larger vessels.

We’re thinking about the end-to-end journey and collaborating with Great Western Rail to transport our fish quickly and more sustainably.

And how about compared to supermarket fish?

90 to 95% of the time the fish you find in supermarkets is caught by industrial fishing boats and its impact on the marine environments is considerably higher than any of our fishers. Although supermarkets have made some steps to improve, nevertheless it’s due to huge volumes and the nature of the business they work in that the prices they are prepared to pay negates the ability for a smaller scale fisher to supply to them.

Aaron Lidstone on his boat Happy Days, its named coined from the catchphrase of a fellow fisherman who had positive outlook each time he set off for a catch

Aaron Lidstone on his boat Happy Days

Which leads us to the social aspect of your work. Tell us more:

If you’re buying fish landed by industrial boats, often the boats are owned by people living in the Bahamas or have never set foot on a boat. A lot of them are held in investment trusts and so a lot of the time there is very low paid labour. A lot of the Filipino labourers for example are not even allowed to come onto the shores due to legal and immigration issues. The fact that our boats are all owner run not only improves the social sustainability of the supply chain, but also  improves the freshness of the fish that reaches the plate.

And what about the quality of the fish?

The world of fishing is more complicated than a usual harvest, because the fishers who go out to sea everyday often don’t know what they’re going to catch. In addition, sourcing fish from small-scale boats really is at the behest of the weather. Small boats simply can’t go out during the high winds that the bigger boats can.

Our solution is blast freezing within 24 hours – this is the process of pushing cold air at high velocity to freeze the fish as quickly as possible. This drives our commitments to quality as fish will be of impeccable freshness compared to one that is 3, 5 or 10-days old. If you’re happy to accept fish in this way you’re allowing small-scale fishers to survive and to be differentiated positively.

Freshly caught place about to be filleted

Freshly caught plaice about to be filleted

Undoubtedly there is a huge resistance to frozen because in the past it has meant inferior quality, although I think people recognise that freshly frozen peas are superior to a 10-day old fresh pea that has been languishing around in the back of the storeroom.

The other alternative is that fishers are only able to land (harvest fish from the sea) when the weather is great. When this happens everybody else has been out and everyone lands at the same time, which depresses prices. The bottom line is that our fishermen and women aren’t financially rewarded for doing less damage and that’s at the core of what we’re trying to change.

Then there’s the issue of transparency.

I’ve also heard a lot of people say ‘I just don’t eat fish’. Honestly the state of some of the fish sold in Britain today simply wouldn’t be allowed in Japan. We can trace right back to the boat and we know the fishers behind each catch.

Happy Days heading out of Plymouth Harbour

Happy Days heading out of Plymouth Harbour – the name was coined from the catchphrase of a fellow fisherman

What are the challenges?

Some say it will only ever be a niche business because the small-scale boats catch so little fish, but you’d be surprised at how much fish they can land. Our fisher Aaron Lidstone can catch half a tonne or even 800 kilos, which for one man and a boat is impressive. One of the first fishers to join us is Graham Searle and he’ll catch a couple of tonnes sometimes.

For me it’s more a question of resource use. If we ate everything that the fishers took from the sea, rather than mostly cod or haddock for example, then we simply wouldn’t need to use bigger boats at all.

Tell us about the main types of fish caught:

Plymouth is the centre of the universe for the European Pollock. It’s our number one bread-and-butter species. Then there’s Ling which is very much an under appreciated deeper water species and is caught on a long line by people like Aaron.

What does the future look like?

I believe that if everyone switched to hand line and static nets we wouldn’t be in the pickle we are now with fishing stocks in such dire straits. If we don’t protect small-scale fisherman and the knowledge they hold then in 10 to 15 years many more fisheries will disappear. Industrial fishing could mean the end of so many livelihoods.

Whilst we respect what Marine Stewardship Council does in terms of setting an across-the-board standard, our approach is to look at the whole holistic ecosystem and focus on balance. I hope that by enabling consumers to have a direct say in the type of fishing carried out that they can be empowered to be part of creating a lasting change for good.

Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. UK Fishermen have a one in 20 chance of being killed on the job during their working lives and it’s thanks to organisations like the RNLI saving lives at sea that the industry can continue. We’re teaming up with the RNLI to support their Fish Supper – an annual charity event to help raise funds for the incredible lifesaving work that they do.
Simply invite your friends or family for a delicious Fish Supper over the weekend of 13 to 15 October. Get everything you need to host with our RNLI Fish Supper bundle where 20% of each one sold will go direct to the RNLI.