Wild plants have always been important to our range and we are in an ideal location to scout for them. Positioned at the foot of the Peak District in the damp North West we have access to prolific wild garlic which thrives in wet valleys. Hogweed seeds, dandelions, elderflower, crab apples, sloes, blackberries, sweet cicely and ground elder are all foraged ingredients that add interesting flavours to our preserves.
We’re always looking for the next overlooked ingredient to add something special to our products. We avoid using rare plants, instead focusing on common edible plants that can be harvested sustainably and close to our base in Macclesfield.
Abandoned Orchards and Hedgerows
We pick tonnes of fruit each year from orchards and hedgerows across the North West, North Wales and West Midlands. The main crops from our home county, Cheshire, are apples, sloes, damsons and pears – both small pickling pears and larger cooking pears for chutney. Damsons were once commonly planted in hedgerows in Shropshire and Cheshire to supplement the income of country folk and we want to keep this tradition alive.
From the West Midlands, particularly Worcestershire, we pick plums, damsons and sloes. We have various farming contacts who kindly allow us to pick these fruits. In addition, we work with the Vale [of Evesham] Heritage Trust, picking fruit from the orchards that they take care of in exchange for a yearly donation to fund their work preserving the traditional landscapes in the Vale of Evesham.
Surplus from British Farms
Whilst we love searching out heritage fruit we can’t ignore the huge amount of produce grown on British farms that isn’t suitable for selling directly to consumers. Our first product made with surplus produce in need of a home is our Hogweed Curry Chutney. It contains some of the millions of pumpkins left in the field after Halloween. It’s been one of our bestsellers since its creation!
More recently we have supplemented our apple harvest with Bramley apples that are slightly imperfect but perfect for preserves. We also use carrots, tomatoes and raspberries that aren’t quite right for selling as first grade produce but are ideal for our preserves.
Small Scale Growers of Traditional Fruits
We’re on a mission to plant and use more heritage fruit from traditional orchards, but we can’t do it alone. There are people out there still growing heritage British varieties which are often difficult to find a market for. We are proud to support a select group of small-scale farmers who are keeping these traditions alive by supplementing our harvest with produce grown by these heritage heroes.