The Provenance Debate - What are Gloucestershire's Highlights?

13th Jun 2019 05:27 AM

As part of our Happerley England Tour, we are challenging the public to come forward with what they consider to be the provenance highlights of their county so we engage a series of debates through regional media, to contribute to the celebrations we are hosting in every county of food and drink provenance. 

Thisis our initial assessment of the food and drink provenance of Gloucestershire. Have your say - contact us at [email protected] to contribute! 

Gloucestershire, the historic county which is at the heart of the Cotswolds, was mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the 10th century, through the areas of Winchcombe and the Forest of Dean were not added until the late 11th century.
It is almost unique in its rich and varied farming heritage with agricultural practices slowly evolving over the centuries. West Gloucestershire was characterised by forestry and small mixed farms. The gently rolling arable land and grazing land for sheep in the Cotswolds and in the Stroud Valleys gained a worldwide reputation. The Vales of Gloucester and Berkeley were renowned for their milk and cheese for pig production, while the orchards of the Leadon Valley provided the fruit for finer ciders and perrys.
Today, farming is less specifically geographical. Big estates running into thousands of acres exist cheek by jowl with small, often organic producers that are exploiting the revival in interest in local food production and in traditional ‘rare’ breeds.
Unsurprisingly, the Gloucestershire area provides a rich harvest of with local cheeses, meats and drinks appearing prominently on the menus of the gastro pubs, old inns, colourful cafes and fine dining restaurants scattered generously across the region.
The River Severn is well known for its Elvers and Salmon. Gloucester elvers have been farmed from the River Severn for hundreds of years and are all the more remarkable, since they are not a native species. In Gloucestershire, the elver is flavoured for its delicacy, and became the final seasoning for an omelette-like dish.
Regional Produce
Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig
  • it is among the very old breeds of pig and currently a rare breed named after the county of Gloucestershire – developed in the Berkley Vale of Gloucestershire, England during the 1800s, in response to farming conditions
  • it has a reputation of an excellent forager
  • originated around the Berkeley Vale on the southern shore of the River Severn and was frequently kept in orchards
  • it was the first breed of any species in the world to be accorded Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status by the EU Commission in recognition of the special qualities of its meat
  • The Gloucestershire Old Spots (GOS) Breed Society was formed in 1913 and since the 1920s has survived on low population number until quite recently
  • now the breed is becoming increasingly popular due to its reputation for high quality meat production
  • it is fattier and thus providing more flavoursome meat
  • an English breed of pig which is predominantly white with black spots
Local producers
  • Park Mill Farm
  • Fordhall Farm
Gloucester Cattle
  • an ancient breed that has been common in the Severn Valley area since the 13th century
  • they were originally a tripurpose breed, valued for their milk, beed and as draught oxen
  • cows generally produce about 3700 litres per lactation with some animals achieving up to 5000 litres
  • the lactation tends to be flat lasting almost 300 days with a butterfat of 3.9% and protein of 3.3% and a lactose of 4.6%
  • the milk is ideal for making cheese
  • Single Gloucester Cheese has an EU PDO meaning that it can legally only be made with milk from Gloucester cows
  • The Old Gloucester Cattle still faces tough competition from other milk and meat breeds
  • the beef is currently experiencing a renaissance with locals who find it well-suited to traditional local dishes that involve slow cooking
Local producers
  • Meat: Everes’ Farm
  • Milk: The Old Gloucester Dairy
Double Gloucester
  • it is a classic British cheese made by several producers including the Smart family
  • the cheese traces its origins to 1498 in the City of Gloucester and it is made in the Severn Vale, from the milk of once nearly extinct Old Gloucester cows
  • made in many parts of the UK both on farms and in large diaries
  • it has a characteristic light orange hue given by the addition of annatto to the milk
  • it uses full fat milk
Local producers
  • Jonathan Crump (Standish Park Farm)
  • Abergavenny Farmers Market
  • Charles Martell & Son
  • an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples
  • following the attention given to the improvement of cider during the 18th century, there was much planting of cider apples in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon
Local producers
  • Dunkertons Cider
  • Hayles Fruit Farm
  • Out of the Orchard
  • Pearons Cider
  • Severn Cider
Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky
  • the first malt whisky ever distilled in the Cotswolds area in south central England
  • The Cotswolds Distillery use 100% locally grown, floor-malted barley and mature the whisky in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and reconditioned red wine casks
  • they also use traditional production processes and equipment to produce their Cotswolds Single Malt including locally-grown malted barley
  • the locally-grown malted barley is milled and then mashed on their 0.5-tonne mash tun, mixing the milled grain with hot water to produce worts
  • the fermentation runs for more than 90 hours in order to generate plenty of fruity flavour compounds alongside the alcohol produced
Local producers
  • Cotswold Distillery
Stinking Bishop Cheese
  • Stinking Bishop is a washed-rind cheese produced since 1972 by Charles Martell and Son at Hunts Court Farm, Dymock, Gloucestershire, in the south west of England
  • Milk of rare Gloucester cattle is used to produce the cheese through sometimes their milk is mixed with the milk of Friesian cattle
  • made with vegetarian rennet, this cheese is also suitable for vegetarians
  • the rind is washed in Perry, an alcoholic drink made with the local variety of Stinking Bishop pear, which gives the cheese its name – the alcoholic wash gives its distinctive pungent aroma and brown/pink rind colour
  • this unique cheese dates its history to the Cistercian order of monks – to keep up with the tradition of monastic cheeses, Stinking Bishop is also matured in humid cave-like conditions
Local producers
  • Charles Martell & Son at Hunts Court Farm, Dymock, Gloucestershire
The Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival
  • 14 – 16 June 2019
  • Montpellier Gardens, Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1UW
Great British Food Festival
  • 10 – 11 August 2019
  • Westonbirt School, Tetbury GL8 6QG
Tewkesbury Food and Drink Festival
  • 22 – 23 June 2019
  • Tewkesbury Abbey Gounds, Tewkesbury GL20 5PG
The Cotswold Show and Food Festival
  • 13 – 14 July 2019
  • Cirencester Park, Cirencester GL7 1XB
Cheese & Chilli Festival in Cheltenham
  • 3 – 4 August 2019
  • Sandford Park, College Road, Cheltenham, GL53 7HX
The Big Festival
  • 24 – 25 August 2019
  • Alex James’ Farm near Kingham, Oxfordshire, OX7 6UJ
Broadway Food Festival
  • 15 September 2019
  • Broadway Village Green