Here at Local Food Britain, we are all about championing even the smallest artisan food producers – which is why at our inaugural food festival just recently we were delighted to host our first Preserves with Passion competition.
A quest to find the very best homemade jam, chutney or preserve from across the region, the winner was a delicious piccalilli made from vegetables harvested at Angela West’s Derrys Field allotment in Woking. The clear hero of the contest, the tangy treat wowed judges when it was taste-tested at our Fine Food and Drink Festival at Guildford’s G Live.
“It was absolutely delicious!” says chairman of the judges, John 'Bartie' Bartlett, of Bartie’s Sussex Faire (pictured above). “I could have eaten it just on its own as it had lovely chunks of vegetables and a slight chilli kick. This will definitely add a touch of magic to any suppers.”
As part of the prize, Angela’s winning recipe will be recreated and packaged as a Limited Edition for Bartie’s Sussex Faire range. To be called ‘Boxing Day Piccalilli’, it will be on sale at farmers’ markets and food fairs across the south-east in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be the winner,” says Angela. “I had high hopes for this piccalilli as it is extremely popular among my family and friends, especially my husband, Brian, who has been known to eat it straight from the jar.”
A very experienced cook, Angela has been making pickles, chutneys and jams since she started growing fruit and vegetables at Derrys Field in 2001. Every year, she sells her preserves to other allotment holders and to members of her local Pyrford Golf Club with sales going to local charities, raising around £50 every harvest time.
What is more, for every jar sold of the Boxing Day Piccalilli, 50p will go to Challengers, which provides play and leisure schemes for disabled children and young people across Surrey, Hampshire and the surrounding areas. Angela had already chosen the charity to benefit from the sales but the timing couldn’t be more apt – on the same day her entry was being judged, the charity suffered a huge blow when its Guildford Playcentre was ravaged by fire.
“We would like to say thank you to Angela, Local Food Britain and Bartie’s Sussex Faire for nominating us to receive donations from sales,” says chief executive office of Challengers, Laura Sercombe. “This will make a huge difference to the Guildford Playcentre. We are overwhelmed by the support and kindness that the local community has shown Challengers at this difficult time.”
Now set to become an annual event, the Preserves with Passion competition attracted entries from far and wide, with all entries of a very high standard. The runner-up was a unique apple and cucumber chutney from Clare Zapp, of Guildford, which judges deemed to have “a lovely fresh flavour”.
“I was amazed at the inventiveness and flavour of the homemade preserves that were tested in our first Preserves with Passion Awards,” says Tracy Carroll, founder of Local Food Britain and one of the judges alongside John Bartlett and G Live’s own chef Martin Pearce.
“Bartie is an experienced ‘preserve meister’ with a wide range of award-winning artisan chutneys, jams and jellies, so to have a local recipe included in the range is a huge accolade for Angela and hopefully will raise lots of money at a significant time for the Challengers charity.”