Isle of Colonsay Wildflower Honey is unique, not only because of its taste, although amongst honeys it is ranked with the best; but also because of its provenance, as bees and quality honey are something of a rarity on small windswept islands. We have the dedication of Andrew Abrahams to thank for this.
It is that unique combination of a native pure bred bee plus the environment in which they forage, wildflowers and herbs from the machair and heathers. One of very few isolated populations of pure bred Native Black Bee left in Europe and as such a valuable gene pool and is on Slow Food's Ark of Taste.
Native Dark Bees are rare and threatened so they need protection. Hybridisation has reduced pure stocks to tiny pockets and any possibility of breeding fairly pure stocks of Amm bees require remote location, distanced from other known honey bee colonies. Native Dark Bees are thus kept on the isles of Colonsay and Oronsay, now granted reserve status by the Scottish Government to protect those bees from hybridization.
photo: Wendy Barrie
Pepper dulse (Osmundea pinnatifida) is a red seaweed with smaller leaves than Dulse, another Ark product. It delicious raw or dried with a unique intense garlicky and truffle taste. When dried it has an umami flavor. Seaweed has been eaten around coastal areas and was part of the diet of crofters for centuries providing a rich source of nutrients in a frugal diet. Found in the mid tide line between January and April when it thrives in our cold waters.
The modern Scottish diet has lost its taste for seaweed and with it, the skills and knowledge to harvest but there is now renewed interest and sustainable foragers are finding a market for this healthy native wild food.
Please note: seasonal availability, usually January - April
Just Seaweed on 01700 505 823
& Galloway Wildfoods on 0780 305 0511
photo: Galloway Wildfoods
Essentially a blood pudding, the ordinary folk of Scotland thrived on this healthy cheap food. Over the years it became industrialised and although still popular it is not what it once was - dried foreign blood imports are now used and few originals remain.
The traditional method requires fresh blood from the animals at slaughter and this becomes a critical issue if the beasts have to be slaughtered some distance from the butcher/charcuterie/curer. Black pudding has a deep rich flavour with a texture of oatmeal/local grain running through.
There are currently 2 butchers we know of ...
John Lawson Butchers, West Lothian (see contact details & link)
Tullochs of Paisley 0141 884 6321
photo: Wendy Barrie
Prestonfield was built in 1687 for Sir James Dick, Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1679 to 1681 during which time he used his own money to clean up the filthy streets of Edinburgh. The by-product was spread on his lands at Prestonfield - no doubt why later it was so fertile for his grandson, Sir Alexander Dick’s rhubarb, who inherited Prestonfield in 1746.
Dick was President of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and staked his medical reputation on rhubarb. Dr. Mounsey of St. Petersburg is thought to have brought him the seeds of True Rhubarb from Russia and Dick was first to cultivate rhubarb in Scotland. There are many references to him giving rhubarb to the great and good of 18th century Scotland, selling it to pharmacists and even sending a box of rhubarb to the Pope!
Prestonfield is now a private hotel with the Prestonfield Rhubarb in their walled garden where their chefs have access to it and diners enjoy it.
Thanks to their enthusiasm they intend to grow more and share if/when they can. Plants have already been shared with a few Slow Food chefs in the community. This is not available for sale but can be enjoyed on their menus in season.
Musselburgh leeks are a short variety with thick white stems. They differ from the “London leek” that have more evenly spaced leaves around the stem. Soils that are fertile, rich and well drained provide ideal growing conditions for leeks. Lowland soils have these characteristics and are, therefore, important areas. Leeks should ideally be planted outdoors in May and can be harvested from September to March.
This variety is well known for being robust, and is often grown for winter hardiness. Some seed specialists have noted the ability of this leek variety to survive even under periods of extreme snow conditions. Leeks have been grown within Scotland since the Middle Ages, and the Musselburgh leek was introduced to market in 1834 from the area of Musselburgh. They are the essential vegetable for cock-a-leekie soup, a traditional Scottish national dish.
Production of Musselburgh leeks within Scotland is currently at low levels, but there are signs of slight local resurgence. Currently, they are mainly available in seed or plant form. The availability of fresh leeks on the market ready for consumers is very limited resulting in many consumers being unaware of their existence, which in turn creates a very low demand for the vegetable considering their important history.
This is not currently available to buy as a vegetable but only as a seed to plant yourself as some Slow Food Chef Alliance Members have done.
This is a unique product of the environment from which it is harvested – the pure sea loch of Loch Snizort. It has a distinctive flavour of the sea – a real zing and sparkle on the palate with beneficial trace minerals from the sea loch. The beautiful flakes are easy to scrunch in your fingers so no need for a salt mill. Produced entirely naturally so you can enjoy the full flavor.
The Isle of Skye had salt pans over 300 years ago. In 1703, a small salt pan industry was set up by Magnus Prince. Peat was probably used to heat the water in large flat metal pans housed in a covered shed. Modern poly tunnels have allowed these producers to resume what was historically an important industry on Skye, in a carbon neutral way, using solar energy in a sustainably. It will always be in small quantities and is very special.
photo: Wendy Barrie
Native Shetland Lamb happily exist in the most rugged land and extreme climate but their dainty size and slow growing characteristics make them unfashionable and less profitable in the eyes of commercial agribusiness. We have already seen many breeds disappearing this way.
It is now successfully marketed from the islands to a worldwide audience and its distinctive flavour is superb. It is protected under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)scheme, meaning that true Native Shetland Lamb must be born, reared and finished in the Shetland Islands.
The taste is second to none. These old breeds are dainty in size but what they lack in bulk they more than make up for in flavour. They are traditionally reared to roam the open land, fed only by nature's herbs and spiced with local flora. Mutton and Reestit Mutton are also produced here, available from local butchers.
It is seasonal but can be successfully frozen and is available on these links to two fantastic producers. Chefs that appreciate rare breeds value their distinctive heritage flavors. Available as whole lambs butchered or unbutchered.
Richard Briggs Shetland Lamb http://www.briggs-shetlandlamb.co.uk
Tel:01595 840 227
Ronnie Eunson, Uradale Farm http://uradalefarm.blogspot.co.uk
Tel:01595 880 689
Native Shetland on Uradale Farm
Peasemeal is a versatile, healthy and nutritious flour used in cooking and baking since Roman times. Unique to Golspie Mill, yellow field peas are roasted, caramelizing some of the sugars present, darkening them and increasing the nutritional value, giving higher levels of protein and starch.
Roasted peas are then milled through three sets of millstones using the restored water-powered mill to produce a fine yellowish powder. The historic renovated mill is fascinating, from the roasting through to the three sets of stones required for the stages of milling. Peasemeal production is time consuming though the results superb.
It can be used in soup or porridge, as a crispy coating for fish and I like it as an ingredient in doughballs, pictured here, with slow cooked Ark of Taste Shetland Mutton. Peasemeal production was a dying art until it was revived by Michael Shaw at Golspie Mill. Peasemeal is increasingly used by chefs for its flavour and warm hue making it both a delicious and attractive ingredient. photos: Wendy Barrie, my recipe commissioned by Paterson Arran
Plus SF Chef Alliance Neil Forbes' fab recipe for Peasemeal & Ham Soup using Slow Food Ark of Taste Peasemeal from Golspie Mill
Shetland Kye Cattle are a small, well-proportioned, dual-purpose breed, with a small head and short inward-curving horns. This breed has been present in the Shetland Islands for the past 3000 years. Traditionally known as ‘The House Cow’, the Shetland Kye played an essential role in the life of the crofting family.
The increasing trend for 'improvement & developing' saw the importation of larger mainland breeds to cross breed with native stock so the number of pure-bred Shetland cattle significantly reduced.
Ronnnie Eunson at Uradale Farm grazes his animals on this native heath and moorland resulting in a fine flavoured traditionally reared heritage breed. Check with Ronnie for delivery/stockists. Ronnie also rears Ark of Taste Native Shetland Sheep.
Ronnie Eunson & WB on Shetland with Shetland Kye
Beremeal is flour made from Bere, an old variety of six-row barley described as having an earthy, slightly astringent, nutty flavour. Traditionally used to make a bannock, a specialty of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Beremeal was widely used throughout Scotland where barley bannocks were eaten as the main bread. Hand mills or querns produced Beremeal for household purposes while watermills produced meal on a larger scale.
Beremeal is currently available from Barony Mills on Orkney where Rae Phillips has milling in the blood! His forefathers were millers there and Rae returned to be miller for the Birsay Heritage Trust that has operated the Mill since 1998. Built in 1837 it has remained relatively unchanged and Rae prides himself in using the original machinery and techniques to make high quality Beremeal.
Beremeal harvested at Burland Croft, Trondra, Shetland
A primitive breed of sheep, with a small, slender frame, their wool is known to be fine and good for spinning. All have heavy spiraling horns and their meat is flavoursome and usually eaten as hogget or mutton to allow the meat to mature.
Boreray Island is part of the St. Kilda group. The breed originated in the late 1800’s from a cross between the Blackface and a variety of the old Scottish Dunface/Tanface sheep from the Iron Age which is now extinct so this is all that remains. When the people left St. Kilda in 1930, sheep were left behind on Boreray where they have been a feral flock ever since. In 1970s a small group of six animals was brought over to the mainland but the mainland population is very small.
Currently no commercial supplier known. Will be updated.
photo: Rare Breeds Survival Trust
These are alarmingly threatened by extinction and are not for consumption for the forseeable future.
The mountain hare is genuinely native to the UK, unlike the more common Brown Hare or even the rabbit, both of which are introduced species. In recent times, it has received some protection as in Scotland there is a defined close season, 1st March to 31st July. In the 18th/19th centuries, hare (both brown and mountain) was a prized meat and eaten in country areas and available in town and city markets.
It inhabits in remote, inhospitable landscapes and seen only by those prepared to make the effort to climb rough mountainous terrain. In terms of culinary use, afew game suppliers in Scotland can supply Mountain Hare, so it can get into the food chain, but it is very uncommon.
The Mountain Hare has a lighter, sweeter, slightly less gamey flavour than the brown hare, though it is darker and stronger in flavour than rabbit. Female hares are deemed preferable, and ideally young. Hares have a lot of blood, and this tends to contribute to the “gamey” flavour and darker meat.
There is a dilemma with the Mountain Hare as they compete with the grouse habitat but they are also prone to a disease they are vulnerable to so for both these reasons are endangered.
photo: ©Lorne Gill/SNH
Goats first appeared in Scotland before sheep and date back as far as 8 thousand years ago when there was still ice in Scotland, yet there are those authorities that wish to deem it an invasive ‘alien’ species to enable it to be eradicated! This is a Stone Age goat! The goats are endangered and ‘under attack’ from quite a number of authorities. This would be a tragedy, particularly as they pre-date all of us!
If you lose this breed you lose a piece of the Scottish soul. The population is going down and for future food production we need to save all the genes we have now. They are a valuable resource for good, clean and fair food production and perfect in the environment they inhabit where little else survives. This has great potential for demand to grow.
These goats have not been ‘developed’ and are eating from nature creating distinctive qualities and a taste of terroir. It has a richness and when slow cooked creates the most delicious casseroles. It is very versatile and can be dried, cured and made into sausages. Legs can be dried for charcuterie.
They were domesticated prior to and up to the Highland Clearances of 1750’s, their hair, skins, horns, meat and milk all used. There is evidence there were goats up at the sheilings. Upon the Clearances, folk fled, emigrated or were killed, and goats escaped. These significant herds form the basis of the Scottish colonies to this day.
Now they roam wild on estates where some ignore them, others curse them and thankfully some appreciate and nurture them. With goat management, you can have a balanced population level while maintaining the overall health of the herd.
It is possible to hunt native goats either on Ardnamurchan Estate or the Scottish Borders.
Classified ‘wild,’ it requires veterinary certificate prior to butchery that is added administration, but there are butchers who will do it and the meat is popular.
photo: Sandy Sneddon
The sheep have a small head, with the ewes having a dished face. Rams are horned and ewes vary. The sheep have a double-layered fleece with a very coarse outer-wool, and an extremely fine, soft inner-wool.
The North Ronaldsay Sheep are one of only two animals in the world able to subsist entirely on seaweed, leading to its nickname ‘seaweed sheep’.
Champions of North Ronaldsay mutton hold it in high regard. The meat is lean and has a distinct gamey taste. The breed is also renowned for its varying wool colour making it ideal for knitwear.
The breed is thought to be over 5000 years old. In 1832 the Laird of North Ronaldsay decided that his pastureland should not be wasted on native sheep and a dyke was built round the island to keep them on the shore and off the land. It was most probably this separation that resulted in the preservation of the North Ronaldsay, as it prevented cross breeding which had been the downfall of other Orkney sheep.
This is a seasonal product but freezes well.
photo: Slow Food UK
Reestit Mutton is mutton from Native Shetland Sheep (Ark of Taste) salted in brine and hung to dry traditionally in the rafters, reest, of the house above a peat fire. The peaty smoke helps to season the meat and after being smoked, the meat is butchered, put into a secret brine recipe and left for 10-15 days then hung on hooks to dry. Once dry it keeps for years and needs soaking prior to cooking.
It is used as the basis for stocks, broths and soups and can also be eaten cold in a Shetland bannock. While once common in the crofting communities, Reestit Mutton is now produced solely in the Shetland Islands.
Contact: Neil Watt, Scalloway Meat Company
In the late 19th century, Scotland became the world’s largest producer of salt herring. 90% was exported in wooden barrels to Eastern Europe, Russia, Scandinavia and Germany where the Scottish cure was highly esteemed. The curing method handed down through generations as the best way of preserving highly perishable herring. The pickling method the Scots curers perfected was a major factor in its success.
There are fewer retail outlets today as the technique is dying out and herring is scooped up in factory ships to make animal feed. The herring itself is not in danger - if and when it is, it will be these ships doing the damage and not the fishermen’s share.
Blyd'O'It Fishshop, Shetland - see contact panel
Jolly’s of Orkney, Kirkwall Tel: 01856 872 414
Pierowall Fish, Westray, Orkney Tel:01857 677 471
photo: Jollys of Orkney
This ancient landrace breed existed over 700 years ago. It has a large, low heavy body. There is no set colour for the Scots Dumpy, although black with glossy green, or cuckoo feathering is the most common. The breed also has a bantam form.
The Dumpy is best known for its short legs that produce a waddling gait. The breed almost disappeared but thanks to a dedicated group of Scottish breeders in the 1970s, it was brought back from near extinction however it remains an endangered breed.
The Scots Dumpy is a dual-purpose utility breed. It is docile by nature and suited to being kept on a smallholding or a back garden. The hen is a good layer yielding up to 180 white or tinted eggs per year.
This will not be available for eating due to scarcity. If you would like to keep hens, they could be perfect for you.
photo source unknown...will be updated
The Scots Grey is an old breed of domestic chicken originating in Scotland in the sixteenth century. The chicken has barred feathering of metallic black on a steel grey background.
It is an excellent forager and was suited to free ranging in farmyards, and on land surrounding crofts and cottages. The Scots Grey was known as a good utility bird as it was used for eggs and meat in ancient houses, crofts, and farms.
The bird would be eaten as a boiling fowl, once it had stopped laying. Free range chickens such as the Scots Grey would form a vital ingredient of ‘Cock-a-leekie soup, once egg production began to tail off. The slow grown healthy bones of the foraging fowl would help produce a tasty stock.
It is currently on the Rare Breed Survival Trust list of native breeds at risk.
This will not be available for eating due to scarcity but you may wish consider breeding them!
Shetland Black potatoes have been saved thanks to the efforts of the Isbisters who grow a small crop on their croft that are available in season on Shetland. They are also supporting the growing of these potatoes in school gardens on Shetland.
For the rest of us heritage potato companies will supply them and you can try growing your own.
Shetland Black potatoes are kidney shaped and have a distinctive dark purple skin. When the tuber is cut open, the flesh inside is a pale creamy yellow colour with a ring of purple. It looks beautiful raw but sadly the colour doesn’t survive boiling although can still hold the feint image when baked in wedges.
The tubers are also smaller than a modern variety, and a slightly erratic shape, kind of oval but often thin at one end and bulbous at the other. The Shetland Black has a sweet and buttery flavor, possesses a light, floury texture and is easy to grow. They are best cooked in their skins. Potatoes were introduced to the Shetland Islands as long ago as 1588, when they were believed to have been salvaged from a wrecked Spanish Armada ship.
When the crofters were cleared to the more marginal land, potatoes provided a nutritious food from the small areas of peripheral ground they were allotted. Today the variety has all but disappeared from the islands, and is available on the market in small quantities, thanks to the people of Shetland, in particular the Isbisters of Burland Croft, who still grow them. They are sold locally.
This is a seasonal product. Seed potatoes can be purchased through Skea.
This has been saved thanks to the efforts of the Isbisters who you will read all about on these pages. They grow a small crop on their croft where it is available in season on Shetland. They are also supporting the growing in school gardens on Shetland and arrange school visits to their croft
Shetland Cabbage/Kale is the oldest known Scottish local vegetable variety and has been grown on the Shetland Islands since at least the 17thC. Used as a vegetable, the outer or dropped leaves are also used as winter fodder for cattle and sheep. In the last 30 years there has been a very steep decline in this landrace crop known locally as Shetland Kale.
Due to the extreme weather conditions on Shetland, cabbage seeds were traditionally planted in plantie crubs, small circular stone-walled enclosures for protection and the micro climate they created. These structures can still be seen all over the islands, most now in ruins.
This is a seasonal product and could be grown on allotments
the kitchen garden at Burland Croft
Another breed entirely thanks to the Isbisters at Burland Croft. Thanks to them the true breeding Shetland Duck is still in existence. These ducks are very rare and all originate from only the Shetland Isles. They have been breeding Shetland Ducks for over 20 years at Burland Croft on the island of Trondra and have distributed them throughout Britain so there thankfully now are a few pockets where smallholders are maintaining the pure breed.
It is a precious breed to be valued for the Ark. Their eggs have a stronger flavour than a hen’s egg and their richness perfect for all dishes particularly savoury dishes using eggs. Their flesh is quite dark and full flavoured, with a distinctive richness. Because these first have a long and happy life they tend to be mature before they end their life so a moist slow cooking method is both advisable and delicious.
By their foraging they would have played a part in reducing the burden of the internal parasites that may have affected some of the larger croft animals. They would have helped for example by eating the snails, the host of liver fluke that created a great health problem for the sheep and cows that grazed nearby.
This will not be available for eating due to scarcity, unless you breed some yourself, but their eggs are available locally.
photo: M Isbister
Shetland Ducks at Burland Croft, Trondra, Shetland
Another breed entirely thanks to the Isbisters at Burland Croft. These hens are very rare and all originate from only the Shetland Isles. They have been breeding Shetland Hens since the 1970’s at Burland Croft on the island of Trondra.
Rare breeds of poultry seem often to be unfairly undervalued. Their biodiversity is invaluable and their genetics must be kept in living genebanks. They are so easily cross bred and lost forever – these were saved just in time before extinction. It is a precious breed to be valued for the Ark.
This will not be available for eating due to scarcity. Because these first have a long and happy life they tend to be mature before they end their life so a moist slow cooking method is both advisable and delicious.
Shetland Hens are aesthetically pleasing, productive and hardy. These attractive fowl will reward the modern crofter who wants s to preserve a worthwhile tradition.
Unless you live on Shetland you will have to breed your own for eggs - these are extremely rare.
Shetland Hens at Burland Croft, Trondra, Shetland
The Soay has the most primitive appearance of any British sheep breed and takes its name from the island of Soay in the St. Kilda group in the far north of Scotland. The meat is delicious, dark and full flavoured – often sold as mutton for slow cooking. They are brown in colour, from tan to chocolate – beautiful fleeces.
Soay means ‘sheep island’ in Norse. These sheep pre date Vikings in these far north isles where they are in their element. They are good mothers and successfully protect their young from birds of prey in the rugged terrain. There are currently herds reared on Skye and in the Cairngorms.
This can be very seasonal but freezes beautifully.
photo : Tilly Smith
In Scotland, the old cheeses were named after the nearest town or region and Anster is the old name for Anstruther and still used by older generations to this day. Jane has revived this fine traditional farmhouse cheese at St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Co using the family’s heritage closed herd of cows, bred on their farm, to make a small range of cheeses that reflect the terroir and the climate of this fertile sunny farm in Fife, overlooking the River Forth. It is the only Fife Farmhouse cheese where there would have been hundreds in the past and her cheese wins awards for its high quality. It is known locally as Anster, the ancient name for Anstruther.
Anster is quite distinctive with a slightly crumbly, tangy, creamy white cheese that leaves a lovely long lasting flavour in the mouth.
Photo: Wendy Barrie
This is a hard regional cheese associated with Fife where there has been Friesian herds since the late 1700’s due to the trading with the Dutch ships and changing of farming systems. Throughout this part of Fife you can see the Dutch influence in the pantiles of the fishing villages in the region. St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company have their own family herd of Friesans and make traditional clothbound wheels are matured and sold as they would have been with no added flavours or additives. Bold distinctive rich hard cheeses naturally vary in colour according to the season.
In Scotland cheesemaking would have been an everyday event but thanks to the Clearances they were decimated. Add two world wars and small-scale cheese production virtually vanished. There are a few working with traditional recipes, natural ingredients, unpasteurized milk and traditional rennet to successfully bring back these traditional skills and flavours that so enrich our environment.
Native Bred Aberdeen Angus beef has fine marbling that gives juicy flavoursome meat. It must be grass fed and suitably hung. The meat is less grainy, more buttery and malleable in texture. There are dedicated farmers who still retain their pure bred herds but the Aberdeen Angus Society only needs the beasts to be sired by an Aberdeen Angus so they are no longer 100% pure bred. Aberdeen Angus is a famous name and popular on menus across the world but few realise that most of the time they are eating a cross bred animal.
The original herd dates back to the 1830’s, with Herd Books dating from 1860’s. There were 9 cow families left when Geordie Soutar at Dunlouise rescued them from near extinction. http://www.dunlouiseangus.com Their website is primarily for Livestock & Semen however sometimes Macdonald Bros. Butchers has their beef on sale: Pitlochry Shop: 01796 472047 & Aberfeldy Shop: 01887 820310
Hardiesmill in Berwickshire rear Scotch Assured pedigree Aberdeen Angus in the traditional way too, fed on grass and grass silage. Well hung beef from the finest Border countryside so this is another excellent contact for the real deal. Dunlouise & Hardiesmill are the only two farms that meet Ark of Taste standards.
For butchered beef and cuts please contact the Tukes at Hardiesmill on http://www.hardiesmill.co.uk
photo: Julia Soutar
This unique looking variety of the potato has a sweet taste, floury texture and a visual striking look that is distinctive red. Highland Burgundy Red is only available in a few farm shops across the country and purchased and appreciated by the few people who still know this variety. Highland Burgundy is grown in only one or two farms and its seeds are kept at the largest potato seedbank in Europe.
Oval, long shape, dull russet layer over bright burgundy skin. Red flesh with a definite ring of white, a fluffy texture and delicious sweet flavour. Excellent novelty mash, crisps and chips, and retains its colour well if steamed rather than boiled.
Please note: Seasonal availability
SKEA Organics – Andrew Skea
photo: Vivian Maeda
Local haddock hot smoked in barrels in small batches under hessian – white fragrant flakes with no additives or dyes. Arbroath Smokies originated in the tiny village of Auchmithie where the Scandinavian influence brought about this delightful delicacy. Fishwives originally smoked the fish in halved barrels with fires underneath, trapping the smoke under layers of hessian sacking.
In 20thC fisher-folk began moving to Arbroath where it became known as the Arbroath Smokie. As traditions fell by the way side for modern quick-fix methods, many qualities were lost, and when his family business was bought by a large fish company, Iain Spink brought back the old tradition and is the man doing it the traditional barrel way - The Arbroath Smokie. (PGI)
photo: James Fraser
From the 18thC there are recipes using Wild Scottish Juniper for seasonings, spirits and jellies but it would be used long before before that and in 17thC was one of Scotland’s important exports to Holland for the production of genever, known as Dutch gin.
Found across Scotland, it thrives in drier areas where trees enjoy bright sunshine and open space. The foliage consists of needles and its fruit a blue and aromatic berry. The young shoots were also used for seasoning.
Juniper is now among our most rare trees, due mainly to a fungus but also perhaps related to climate change. Many have been lost through disease but replanting programmes are underway. There are artisan gin distillers who are collaborating with a number of conservation projects.
Berries can be picked and dried and used as a spice – delicious with game, juice and of course as gin.
Rare to find so good luck!
Barwheys a hard regional Ayrshire cheese made from pure-bred indigenous Ayrshire cows. Traditional clothbound wheels are matured and sold as they would have been with no added flavours or additives. Bold distinctive rich hard cheeses naturally vary in colour according to the season. The Ayrshire was the family cow for local smallholders and farmers and has good meat quality but famed for its rich creamy milk.
Crowdie is a traditional fresh Scottish cheese dating back to the Viking era, and possibly even Pictish. Traditionally made in every farmhouse on a small scale with milk from their traditional house cow - Ayrshire or Galloway, Highland, Black Angus, Fife Cattle (extinct) or North Dairy Shorthorn.
Ann's crowdie at Dunlop Dairy is the most authentic crowdie currently in production in Scotland. The regulations in Scotland won't allow anyone to produce raw milk crowdie as it is a cheese with a very short shelf life and a high moisture content. Ann makes her pasteurized version in small batches to her own recipe based on traditional methods.
This cheese has 17thC roots. In 1690, a farmer’s daughter made it a mile from this very farm, with huge success. She taught the making of this ‘sweetmilk’ cheese that became known as Dunlop. Her whole milk recipe creates a superior cheese - previously only skimmed milk had been used, a by-product of butter making. Not only is Dunlop famous for its cheese but also the Ayrshire cow, first bred in the parish, formerly known as the Dunlop cow. Dunlop cheese is specific to this region, small scale, made with traditional breed of cow to that area. Local production had closed down completely by 1940 and Ann Dorward at Dunlop Dairy has single-handedly resurrected it.
Dunlop is a mild, sweet, buttery tasting cheese made from the pasteurised milk of cows from Ayrshire breed. Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop is hard-pressed not unlike cheddar but more moist. When young and mild it has a nutty flavour with a smooth, close texture. As it matures (clothbound) it develops a good strength with a slight sharpness and becomes a harder cheese.
Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsy is a distinctive and unique heritage potato with a wonderful name which summarises its historical connection to its original community. It has a unique colour with an eyecatching distinctive red, white and blue patterned skin, and has a versatile flesh good for boiling, steaming and roasting.
The potato is held in SASA’s collection due to it’s importance and can be seen celebrated in specialist potato shows and festivals in the UK and internationally. It comes from the Borders town of Yetholm and was thought to be introduced to the town in 1899 and it has been found to be a variant of the King Edward potato. The skin colour can fade on cooking and the potato has a cream flesh.
A seasonal product available from Skea Organics or Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes
A fascinating history - will update asap
This will not be currently available for eating due to scarcity.
More information to follow soon
photo: Scottish Farmer
A true Finnan Haddie is a split, whole gutted fish, not the mass-produced dyed boneless fillets. The delicate smoke gives it a wonderful flavor. It has a long association with the famous Scottish soup Cullen Skink, also poached in milk for breakfast, and the main ingredient in kedgeree.
Traditionally cold smoked over peat, from Aberdeenshire, where the name originates and popular across Scotland since at least 1640’s. It is salted and left to dry overnight prior to smoking. Due to the light smoke it has a relatively short shelf life. There are still few small independent smokers who follow the traditional method such as this one in Eyemouth where they smoke them to order.
H S Murray, Inverkeithing Tel: 01383 412684
D R Collin & Son