Foods Made in England
England has always had artisan food producers: the butcher who cured his own pork and made his own sausages, the baker who not only delivered the bread, but also experimented with pies and tarts, the farmer who turned the harvest from his orchard into delicious cider, the fisherman smoking, pickling and preserving his catch and - of course- the cheese makers.
In addition, many people make their own jams and preserves, their pickles and chutneys, their sloe gin and elderflower champagne.
And over the last ten years - as English supermarkets have tried to take over the country - I've seen a distinct rise in good, locally produced food.
Farmer's markets - almost unheard of when I came to England - are held every week across the country and the produce they sell can be truly amazing.
So I've decided to devote some space here to traditional foods ably revived and new ones imaginatively created, especially those made by small (or not so small) artisan producers.
If you were looking for a traditional recipe to make your very own English speciality, check out the recipes page. If not, just pick what tickles your taste buds and read on:
And no, I've not tried all the products I'm listing here - yet! Many of the ideas here come from family and friends and colleagues, from holidays, trips or surprise picnics. I'll slowly work my way through the list, reviewing as I go. And if you've visited England and found a food or supplier you particularly liked - please share your discovery with all of us.
Butter, Cream and Cheeses
Devon and Cornwall are famous throughout England for their excellent butter and thick cream, but England also has many traditional cheeses.
Cheshire cheese is one of England's oldest cheeses and mentioned in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror's comprehensive survey of Norman England, while Cheddar cheese must be England's most famous hard cheese. The method is used all over the country - and also abroad - to make cheese, but West Country Farmhouse Cheddar is still made around the caves of the Cheddar Gorge as it has been for centuries.
And have you ever ended a meal with Port and Stilton?
Look out for a separate page about the huge variety of English cheeses and reviews of artisan cheese makers, which is coming soon to foods made in England.
This one I'm looking forward to research! England is often portrayed as a nation of beer drinkers, and while beer - or rather ale - is a favourite with many, we should not forget all the other wonderful drinks and concoctions you can find amongst all the wonderful foods made in England.
Did you know that tea and wine are grown in England? That we produce a truly wonderfully flavoured cider brandy? Or that you can even find one of the oldest recorded alcoholic drinks - mead - freshly made in England?
If you don't then look out for the following reviews:
- The Somerset Cider Brandy Company
- English Tea from the Tregothnan Estate
- Lindisfarne Mead
- Plymouth Gin
- Alnwick Rum
Sausages and Cooked Meats
While the English don't have the same love of 'cooked and cured' sausages that the Germans are famous for, there must be at least as many sausage recipes as butchers in England.
Sausages are usually made from pork, fried and served either as part of an English breakfast or for dinner with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Traditionally flavoured with sage, sausages can also contain other herbs and spices or apples.
Bacon is famous as a breakfast food and is in all manner of dishes, while Black and White Puddings are a speciality of England's north-west.
I've always found England's cured hams most tasty and was delighted to find that they were often served for breakfast during Regency and Victorian times. Sliced thickly and partnered with fresh bread and a scraping of hot English mustard, a good ham is one of the the finest foods made in England.
So what manner of producers and products am I looking to find for this section? Just take a look:
- The Bury Black Pudding Company - who were brave enough to take their products to France! or
- the producers of Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
- the producers of traditional Lincolnshire Stuffed Chine
- and a few outstanding sausage makers and ham producers
And if you have a wonderful butcher on your doorstep or have come across the most tasty of products ... Please share your discoveries of foods made in England!
Fish and Shellfish
I love fish. And I love smoked fish even more! But I'd never had oysters, shrimps, cockles or jellied eels before I came to England, so my journey of discovery has only just begun.
In this section you will find reviews of the likes of Craster Kippers and Whitstable Oysters. (You can read about the annual Whitstable Oyster festival on this page.)
I'll be talking about smoked trout and smoked eels, tasty pates and the people who make them.
Pickles and Preserves
If you've ever tried English mustard you'll know that it is very different from its European or transatlantic cousins - it's eyewateringly hot! But it goes very well with roast beef or English ham - as does Horseradish sauce.
And have you ever wondered why (some of) the English like Marmite? Believe me, you're not alone.
I'm going to search out producers and histories for all of these tasty foods made in England:
- English Mustard
- Branston Pickle
- Gentlemen's RelishMushroom Ketchup
- Worcestershire Sauce
I'm not the greatest one for sweets, but when considering foods made in England, I just can't leave out some of the more well-known or some of the more outrageous ones. Here's an early list ... feel free to add to it.
- Cadbury Chocolate
- Kendal Mint Cake
- Pontefract Cakes
- Everton Mints
- and, of course, really old-fashioned sweets
There's an enormous variety of traditional foods made in England. Researching them is a journey of discovery that doesn't have a boring minute anywhere. I'm soooo looking forward to exploring!