Cumbrian butchers and maker Cranstons have been championing local produce for over 100 years. Things have changed a little since Stanley Cranston started delivering meat to Eden Valley villages from his horse and cart back in 1914. Cranstons now have four local produce Food Hall’s in North Cumbria including their flagship Food Hall and Café in Penrith.
With an in-house-made butchery, deli ranges, and a vast array of food and drink from over 50 carefully selected Cumbrian suppliers, a shopping trip at one of their food halls will put you in a foodie paradise! So whether you're after a distinctly local ale, freshly baked artisan bread or the ingredients for a holiday fry up, Cranstons have a great selection.
The butchers sell over 3 miles of Cumbria’s famous traditional Cumberland sausage a week, so you know it must be good! Then there's an extensive range of sausages, traditionally cured bacon, dry aged beef steak, barbecue goods, sausage rolls, cooked meats, pies, freshly made salads... It's enough to make your mouth water! You really are spoiled for choice, whether you're cooking a slap-up meal in your holiday cottage or putting together a proper Cumbrian picnic.
Here Cranstons Cumbrian Food Hall Manager Caroline Dinham shares her top Cumbrian food picks.
1. Classic Cumberland Sausage
When in Rome… I couldn’t select my top Cumbrian food recommendations without a mention of the mighty and meaty Cumberland sausage. If you’re a purist then you really must try the classic version with its characteristic thick girth, 80%+ meat content and distinctive spices. If you're open to some Cumbrian ‘fusion’ food, then Cranstons will be offering a series of twists on the classic recipe this year. Look out for the Cumberland and Marmalade sausage to coincide with Dalemain’s world famous marmalade festival.
2. Lakeland Plum Bread
Brysons ‘Lakeland Plum Bread’ remains a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. Bryson’s craft bakery of Keswick started hand baking bread from locally milled flour over 70 years ago. This is a lightly spiced fruit bread that's delicious with butter or jam for sandwiches, and fantastic as hot buttered toast. “Plum” in the name comes from the traditional description for dried fruit, it doesn't actually contain plums but currants, raisins and sultanas.
3. Black Garlic Ketchup
Another must try Cumbrian product and a relative newcomer to Cumbrian’s thriving artisan food scene is Hawkshead Relish’s Black Garlic Ketchup, which has a superb ‘grown up’ and addictive punchiness. It’s great paired with barbecue food, especially chicken, and once you’ve had it with chips there's no going back to Heinz tomato ketchup!
4. Spiced Pickles
For those of you who like a little chilli in your life, I would wholeheartedly recommend Mr Vikki’s range of Indian Spiced Pickles. Mr Vikki’s was set up by award-winning Lakeland chef turned self-proclaimed chilli addict Adam Marks. His range features curry sauces, pickles and table sauces and it’s impossible to pick a favourite. I've narrowed it down to two jars of spicy joy: Mr Vikki’s Banana Habanero and Mr Vikki’s Tomato and Nigella Chutney, both of which elevate a humble cheese sandwich to greatness!
5. The World's Finest Handmade Fudge
That brings me on to the tooth-tinglingly sweet end of the list. Penrith Toffee Shop fudge is legendary and sought out by royalty and fans the country over. The Toffee Shop is dedicated to producing the world’s finest handmade fudge and toffee, with the secret recipe carefully transitioning through six generations, shielded in intense levels of security. If you're going to treat yourself to something sweet, I say do it properly with something worth the calories!
6. Loweswater Gold
Cumbria is lucky to be home to scores of brilliant micro-breweries and it’s hard to recommend just one bottle of booze to try during your visit. That's especially true when you consider the cracking range of gin, whiskey and vodka the county now produces! It might seem predictable when I finally opt for Loweswater Gold, but credit where credit’s due. Not only is the company a CAMRA winner, but I can tell you they're a lovely lot to work with too, and I feel they deserve a shout out just for that!
Whatever your food preferences, Cumbria has a great food scene. It’s wonderful as a Cumbrian retailer to be able to showcase old-fashioned local food hero’s alongside exciting up-and-coming brands and flavours. Rest assured, you will always find something tasty to enjoy.
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This is a guest blog written by Cranstons Butcher and Maker. Find out more and order online on their website.