Buy locally this Christmas and experience the best flavour
Christmas often involves indulgent food and drink with preparations starting far in advance. Many people feel weak at the thought of the queues in the shops but Christmas food shopping can be a pleasure when you do it locally.
Across Hampshire there are plenty of farmers offering delicious locally-reared free range turkeys and other meats. Mouth-watering trimmings are also available such as seasonal sausage flavours, bacon, stuffing and more. Orders are being taken now in many local farm shops and butchers helping to stagger Christmas preparations. This stress free option just means a simple collection of your order closer to Christmas, often involving a quick warming mulled wine and a natter.
Choosing a quality local turkey will not only mean you are supporting Hampshire's farmers and butchers but it will also give you a tastier meal. The age of the bird, its living environment, how long it is hung and whether it is hand plucked are just some of the factors which will impact on the flavour of the bird.
Family-run Newlyns Farm Shops in North Warnborough and Weyhill offer quality turkey reared on their own farm. Emma Higgens, owner of the farm shop, explains what you can expect to find in the shop this Christmas, 'Our bronze free range turkeys are always field reared on our farm and we choose a particular breed for their size and the flavour of meat that they produce. We make all our own stuffing in house using our own farm reared pork with fresh herbs and flavourings. You can buy Newlyns Christmas honey and mustard hams, or you can order them with cloves, our hand raised pork pies topped with cranberries and layered game pies are also very popular. Our turkey customers come back year after year. Another benefit of shopping at our farm shop is that you can order all of your Christmas food in advance and it will be ready to pick up a couple of days before Christmas.'
Hyden Farm Originals in Clanfield near Petersfield also takes pride in the attention and care given to its animals. Richard and Angela Jones have been producing turkeys and geese for more than 30 years. Richard describes the way they care for the animals, 'Our birds roam freely and grow slowly from July which allows them to express their natural behaviour which ensures they are relaxed. This gives them the best flavour and quality. We offer different types of turkey including Norfolk Black and Bronze. We are also happy to do a crown or boned and rolled turkey for anyone who would rather now have a whole bird. It's a hectic time of year but we love it. We really enjoy seeing our customers on collection days, we have a chat and a laugh and see them off with what will be a delicious Christmas meal.'
Provenance is a hot topic at the moment and buying your turkey locally will ensure you know where your bird has come from. Southampton based butchers, Uptons Butchers of Bassett has recognised this is a priority for customers and has installed a 'turkey-cam' in the butchers to show how the turkeys are being reared on a nearby farm in Lymington.
Now is the time to order your local turkey and other meat from Hampshire farm shops, butchers and producers to ensure you will be serving a real Hampshire feast this Christmas. To find producers and butchers offering locally reared turkeys and more use the search function on the homepage of our website to find meat producers.