An annual competition held by Local Food Britain, judging for this year’s Preserves with Passion took place at our Countryside Food Festival at Priory Farm in Surrey this September.
Since then, the winning piccalilli created by Scott Stokes - and chosen by our judging panel of John `Bartie’ Bartlett and Surrey Life editor Rebecca Younger - has been put into limited edition production by Local Food Britain member Bartie’s Sussex Faire.
Jars have then been sold at farmers’ markets and in shops in the lead up to Christmas, with 50p from the price of every jar going to Macmillan Cancer Research.
“It was amazing to win and I’m so very proud to have supported this fantastic charity,” says Scott. “Too many people lose close family and friends to this terrible disease, so every little thing that can be done helps.”
Having worked in the Middle East for 13 years, Scott and his family moved to Ashtead in Surrey in 2016 - but his passion for preserves goes back to his childhood.
“Our nan used to make a lot of pickles and preserves, and to this day the pickled onions she made still make me salivate,” he says. “My brothers enjoy spending a lot of time in the kitchen as well, so it’s a family thing.”
It was his move abroad and the difficulty of getting hold of certain imported products that led him to try his hand at producing his own preserves.
“At first, I just took note of what people were using to make their piccalilli by reading the ingredients on the side of jars,” he says. “As I grew more confident, I decided I’d try and see what I could come up with – and hey presto!”
Grow your own
Having taken over an allotment in November 2017, which he tends with wife and son, brother and his two children, sister and brother-in-law and their daughter, many of the ingredients in the secret recipe of his award-winning festive piccalilli were home grown.
“Our allotment is a real family affair,” he explains. “We were novices with growing, so wanted to see what the land had to yield. There was so much already planted and growing, we left it for the first year to see what it would produce – it’s so friendly there and everyone shares what they’ve grown.
“We’ve just planted a small garlic and onion farm ready for next year, and I also grow a lot of potted fruit and vegetables at home (peppers, chillies, tomatoes, of course, potatoes and strawberries, to name a few...).”
So, will he be back with this home grown produce and a new recipe for next year’s Preserves with Passion competition?
“Oh yes, for sure,” he says. “I am working on a recipe this winter that could quite possibly be next year’s winner.
“I will also be supporting Bartie with the sale of the festive piccalilli, and buying some for family and friends. It’s such a great thing to do.”