We live in a time of unprecedented access to global flavours. And while it’s exciting to try Peruvian ceviche or Vietnamese pho, we’re all about keeping an eye on the traditional foods that made us.
By helping them to remain mainstays of our fridges, we’re making sure that they’re preserved for future generations: a tangible way to keep our history preserved.
Here’s the bites that have stood the test of time.
Did you know that cheese has been around longer than Christianity? Legend says that cheese was discovered by nomads carrying milk across the desert in a bag made from an animal’s stomach. They discovered that the milk had separated into whey (liquid) and curd (solid) – and it tasted delicious.
This is the basis for making cheese today, although nowadays it is produced in a modern creamery. Once the curd in concentrated and pressed into a wheel, it’s left to ripen. The earliest version of British cheese would taste like Cheshire or Lancashire cheeses. Today, Great Britain still make some of the best cheeses in the world on small local farms with unusual flavours – from fruity cider to Middle Eastern spices.
Speaking of cheese, bread pairs perfectly with this pasteurised product. Real bread isn’t what we see sliced in shiny packages on the supermarket shelves. Traditionally bread was made using fresh homemade yeast either from a sourdough starter or made from distillery barm (the froth on fermenting alcohol).
It took longer to rise and didn’t contain any additives or preservatives. Organic traditional bread is still made across the country today. Alternatively you can bake your own loaf at home using Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley, the Bible of the real bread world. The loaf won’t last a week, but we guarantee it will taste so much better.
Europeans have been drinking cow’s milk for 7,500 years, according to a study by University College London. Cows were traditionally milked by hand, then the milk is pasteurised before being bottled and sold. You can now buy all kinds of milk in the supermarket, but cow’s milk has long been the country’s favourite. What would a good cup of English Breakfast tea be without it, right?
Whether you spread it on toast or dollop it in your porridge, jam is one of Britain’s most popular heritage foods. The preserve dates all the way back to 1st century Rome. People made jam as a way of using up an abundance of fruit. Rumour has it that marmalade was invented in the 16th century when Mary Queen of Scots’ doctor mixed together orange and sugar to aid her seasickness.
Creating your own jam is simple – just heat fruit and sugar together and pour into a sterilised jar. Strawberry and raspberry are the obvious types, but mix it up by adding vanilla for sweet smokiness, or star anise, for a murmur of licorice.
Wine is difficult to make in Britain, but beer has been enjoyed for centuries, thanks to the abundance of hops in the UK. In Medieval times, beer made up a large portion of the population’s calories. It was drunk with every meal (including breakfast).
In fact, there was a time when beer was safer to drink than water. Making beer involves boiling and fermenting malt with sugar and yeast, before hops are added for flavour. Craft breweries have exploded in popularity over the last five years with British beer drinkers choosing locally-made ale over your standard lager. Support your local brewery to ensure craft beer is here for many years to come.
From kombucha to kimchi, fermented foods are one of the top culinary trends of 2017. However the art of pickling and fermenting dates back 4,000 years as a way of preserving food for long journeys. Pickling involves storing food in vinegar while fermentation means soaking food in salt brine.
They are packed full of natural probiotics and vitamin B, which helps support your immune system. The tradition of pickling and fermenting food still continues today – whether you drink kombucha at your local hipster health food cafe or eat spiced pickle as part of your lunchtime ploughman’s sandwich.