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Local food and drink producers in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 17:08 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:23 10 September 2019

Farr Brewery (photo: courtesy of Farr Brewery)

Farr Brewery (photo: courtesy of Farr Brewery)

Archant

To celebrate British Food Fortnight this month we've compiled a guide to 19 of the best producers making fabulous food and drink right on your doorstep

The benefits of buying local are many - minimal transport miles, super-fresh produce and support for businesses in the community to name just a few. In celebration of British Food Fortnight from September 21 to October 6, we've selected some of the best producers growing, brewing and raising fabulous food and drink in Herts. Almost all can be visited, so you can experience the creative process first-hand.

- Bridget B's

In the face of the tough economics of the agricultural industry at the time, Bridget Borlase - who comes from a long line of beef farmers - created her business in 2005 on 900-acre Sacombe Hill Farm supplying top quality beef to the public and restaurants. With master butchers at its three outlets, and a dedication to handling everything aspect of the beef production themselves, many Herts chefs swear by the farm's produce.

Where to buy: Sacombe Farm Shop and Watton-at-Stone Shop both in Watton-at-Stone, and Bridget B's Butchery in Brookmans Park.

- Foxholes Farm Shop

This family-run farm in Hertford has been in the business for nearly a 100 years. Owner Catherine Smith is passionate about not only producing tasty, ethically farmed produce but supporting other farms too. She began selling her own home-produced beef from her farmhouse. Word soon spread and there's now a great farm shop and butchery selling meat including dry cured pork and sausages made from the farm's own saddleback pork and beef from its Aberdeen Angus herd.

Where to buy: Foxholes Farm Shop, London Road, Hertford

- Hedges Farm Shop

On the edge of St Albans is Hedges Farm Shop on the eponymous, family-run farm, where lambs, cows and turkeys are reared for their meat. Sheep and lambs are reared outside with no extra feed to force growth beyond hay and dried grass in winter. Calves are Hereford bulls and are known for their tender, flavourful meat. They enjoy the watermeadows at the farm throughout summer, drinking their mother's milk and grazing on grass. Its turkeys are very popular at Christmas time.

Where to buy: At the farm shop. Place orders on 01727 833803.

- Cure & Simple

If you can't risk being without bacon, Cure & Simple has you covered. Based in the village of Great Hormead, its pork is spiced with home recipes in flavours such as Black Treacle and Whisky Smoked and cured by traditional methods to produce streaky, back and steaks that are not injected with water to bulk them up. The best bit? It's a club, with your choices delivered by first class post to your home. Breakfast is assured.

Where to buy: Order your flavours and preferred delivery (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly) on the website.

- Pearce's Farm Shop

This attractive farm shop near Buntingford is bursting with fresh produce. In the summer months you can pick your own strawberries and raspberries. Or in season try its home-grown asparagus, beetroot and pumpkins - great for Halloween but even better in a soup. The shop sells an array of locally-grown seasonal fruit and veg and produce such as meat and cheese from local suppliers. There's a lovely barn-style café too with floor to ceiling views over meadows.

Where to buy: The farm shop off the A10 just north of Puckeridge.

- Lessiter's

Chocolate and truffle manufacturers Lessiter's started life in a basement kitchen in London in 1970. After rapid success, the company moved to a quaint factory and on-site shop in Woolmer Green near Knebworth to keep up with demand from big choc brands, shops, hotels, restaurants and even cruise liners.

Where to buy: Boxes of chocolates are available online at thesecrettruffletier.co.uk or in larger quantities from Lessiter's website.

- Dawlicious

Milk from a vending machine? Who'd have thought? Dawlicious is the raw milk and ice cream company run by Barry, Jenny and Claire Daw using milk from their bluegrass and bluerock jersey herd in Hertford Heath. The ice creams come in a wide variety of flavours and have won Great Taste Awards.

Where to buy: The shop at Amwell Place Farm on Hertford Heath's Downfield Road for ice cream in up to 4l tubs and to fill up your bottles seven days a week from the milk dispensers. Other ice-cream stockists are Foxholes Farm Shop, Dutch Market Place and Cammas Hall.

- Yvette's Chocolates

Yvette's produces artisinal chocolates by hand using only natural ingredients and flavourings and a 24-hour infusion technique. Aiming to create a wow reaction, choose from orange, raspberry and cinnamon to chilli, olive oil and sea salt. Five of its flavours now have Great Taste Awards. You can even design and make your own creations at workshops at the The Old Bakery site in Potten End.

Where to buy: Via the website.

- Wobbly Bottom

Add a bit of oomph to your cheeseboard with Wobbly Bottom's artisan cheeses. The farm, off Pirton Road near Hitchin, has a small but 'perfectly formed' herd of goats from which cheese is handmade in small batches from fresh milk daily. Products range from simple creamy soft goat's cheese to cheddars infused with a delicious range of extras including tangy root ginger, real ale and mustard and cracked black peppercorns.

Where to buy: Call or email the farm to place an order or find them at many farmers' markets around the county. Ask your deli too.

- Emma's Eggs

Emma Roberts kept eight pet hens on the organic family farm in Harpenden for years, enjoying fresh eggs for breakfasts daily. After finding there was a shortage of truly free range eggs locally she grew her brood to 150. Her silver link hens, known for being friendly, enjoy a quiet country life and are moved around regularly to enjoy fresh grass with low open fencing. Emma can occasionally be seen chasing 'an escape artist' who has jumped the fence but says its all worth it.

Where to buy: From Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden. The farm also provides Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery with wheat and rye.

- Wayside Farm

Run by Charlie Wray in Kings Langley, Wayside Farm sells milk raw and non-pasteurised. There's nothing taken out, just lots of goodness from the 75-strong Jersey herd. The farm also makes its own cream, butter and cheese all using raw milk. People come for miles to buy it and it can also suit those with dairy intolerances.

Where to buy: The farm shop in Watford Road, where you can use the vending machine.

- Ugo Foods

The Ugo story started all the way back in 1929 when Luigi Ugo, having left his home in Italy aged 14, opened his first shop making pasta in London. Today the Borehamwood company has brands including Ugo Thrive (gluten-free pasta); Dell'Ugo, (gnocchi and fresh pastas including tasty filled tortellini alongside ready-made focaccia bread); and latest venture, The Oriental Noodle Company, which harks back to Luigi's time making noodles and dumplings for Asian restaurants in London.

Where to buy: Find Dell'Ugo creations in the fresh pasta aisle in Waitrose.

- Hertfordshire Honey

Pooh Bear went mad for the stuff and we'll agree that there's not much that can top the golden stuff with butter on toast. Hertfordshire Honey in Woolmer Green produces raw, unheated, honey from its own honeybees buzzing around the countryside. Two crops are produced each year, a spring one in May to June and a summer one in July. Each crop is different thanks to the different flowers and fruits the bees have been feeding on. The company sells both clear and set honey in traditional 1lb jars, as smaller wedding favours, and cut comb honey.

Where to buy: Order via the website, collection in person is welcome. Find the honey at farm shops and farmers' markets too.

- Glinwell / Smallford Farm Shop

Glinwell has supplied supermarkets with a wide range of vegetables for more than 40 years. The family-run company shuns pesticides, instead using natural methods in its state-of-the-art greenhouses. Its tomato and pepper plants are pollinated by resident bee colonies. The company has six UK nurseries, including in Smallford near St Albans where this year it converted a huge glasshouse into a stunning farm shop. It also grows unusual varieties including coloured heirloom tomatoes and mini cucumbers. A range of chillies is being trialled too.

Where to buy: Glinwell's Smallford Farm Shop and Tesco.

- Apple Cottage Cider

This family-run business produces fresh apple and pear juice and award-winning cider and perry 'straight from the branch to bottle'. Apple Cottage has been making cider in Baldock for 17 years using fruit hand-picked from local orchards and a slower fermentation process for a fuller flavour. The ciders are free from synthetic chemicals and sulphates. A latest product is mulled cider syrup. It also offers an apple pressing service to turn your own windfall into gold.

Where to buy: Direct from the brewery by phoning and emailing your order. The cider is stocked in most of the pubs in Baldock, as well as several pubs in surrounding towns.

- Farr Brew

From its award-winning Porter to Black Listed, Golden and Pale ales, Farr Brew is dedicated to making great beers. Hops are grown in the UK, honey comes from local bees, waste water is used for fertiliser on the farm, and packaging is 100 per cent recyclable. If you are interested in how the beers are made, brewery tours take place each month.

Where to buy: Visit the brewery tap room at Samuels Farm in Wheathampstead on a Saturday 11am-5pm (there's also a good range of local produce on sale) or visit the brewery's new pub, The Rising Sun, in Slip End; or Farr's 'micropub', The Reading Rooms, on Wheathampstead High Street, open daily midday-10pm.

- Old Vodka

Crafted using a 200-year-old Georgian family recipe passed through the generations, this award-winning vodka comes in 11 delicious flavours such as caramel, honey, tarragon, sloe, rhubarb, strawberry or plain premium vodka, the Great Taste Award winning base for all the flavours. It's distilled at Church Farm, Ardeley in small batches, triple-filtered over charcoal. The company sells gift sets, 700ml, 200ml, and mini bottles too - a great way of trying new flavours.

Where to buy: Through the website or catch them at food and drink festivals.

- Tring Brewery

Founded in 1992, Tring Brewery is another microbrewery that uses traditional methods for brewing that have landed it many awards. With a hefty list of core beers including Golden, Hoppy Ale, Side Pocket for a Toad and the 'quintessential quaffing ale' Brock Bitter, the brewery also creates monthly specials and seasonal offerings.

Where to buy: Brewery shop at Dunsley Farm, Tring. Beer Shop in St Albans and many Herts pubs.

- Puddingstone Distillery

Herts' first gin distillery in Wilstone near Tring has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2016. Its Campfire gins have gained awards and even won a World's Best Martini competition. Puddingstone is mindful of community and the environment with charity partnerships including Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

Where to buy: Online or visit the distillery shop in the Artisan Workshops on Lower Icknield Way, Wilstone where founders Ben and Kate also do tours.



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