Hemp – a Local Superfood

It’s been a while since we’ve written – It’s been a busy few months launching our local produce hampers and finding all new producers and growers and the time has just slipped by…  So here is an introduction to one of our new producers:

Anyone who knows us, knows we have a bit of a mission to prove we can be regionally as self sufficient as possible, without compromising on delicious food.  So, with that in mind, we have been looking beyond the basic food staples for things that will pique interest and keep food something to look forward to.

But, even though we eat lots of fresh food, there is always room for improvement.  But good food doesn’t necessarily mean particularly rich or sweet – but access to ingredients that enhance or develop a good dish.

Why Hemp?

Hemp Flower

One of the key ingredients to healthy eating this year is humble Hemp.  Hemp is the  superfood that is on everyone’s lips at the moment as a new concept in healthy eating, but that seems a little strange as this is the staple crop of our ancestors…used from clothes production to food.

In fact, one of the oldest relics of human industry is a piece of hemp fabric dating back to approx 8,000 BC.  Our ancestors clearly knew it as a useful crop and it was grown extensively to provide materials for the British Navy in the 16th century…riggings, pendants, pennants, sales and even maps, log books and Bibles.

Hemp Rigging

Hemp is a sustainable crop, which is hardy and grows well in most soil types. A perfect crop for the 21st century landscape as it provides not only food but also prevents weed growth, as it is a more prolific plant than the weeds that compete – so is basically organic by it’s strength and speed of growth.

It fell out of favour post-war as the fashion for synthetic fabrics took root – so our generation has lost the association and hemp immediately springs cannabis to mind (which is a different variety of the plant completely, by the way).

Why is Hemp good for you?

65% of hemp seeds protein content is Edestin which is unique to the plant. As a globular protein it is easily absorbed by the human body and is known for cell regeneration and boosting the immune system. The remaining 35% is comprised of Albumin (also found in egg whites), also a readily digestible globular protein, which promotes nutrient uptake in the blood.

Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids that are needed to stay healthy, including some that our bodies cannot produce themselves and have to come from our diet. Without them, the body would be unable to build and repair proteins, such as muscles.

Hemp seeds have a high quantity of perfectly-balanced Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9), which are good aids to neurological function and promoters of cardiovascular health.  They are also a fabulous source of Omega EFAs for vegetarians and vegans.

Where does our Hemp come from?

The hemp is grown 100% naturally, with no chemicals or additives, at the foot of the South Downs in West Sussex. Vitality Hemp was founded in 2014 by 29 year old Nathaniel Loxley, one of only eight Home Office licence holders to grow hemp in the UK.

Vitality Hemp products are made with love and respect for the plant. Production is kept as resourceful as possible by growing the raw material, processing it locally and developing it into new and innovative products using every aspect of the plant.


Recipe – Hemp and Walnut Loaf

Our Walnut and Hemp Loaf – Sorry terrible picture (taken quickly as we had nearly finished the SECOND loaf)

This is a delicious, slightly dense loaf with a smooth nutty flavour.  The Hemp gives a slightly grassy note and really brings out the taste of the walnuts. We dipped hunks of this in Carrot Soup slathered with fresh Sussex salted butter and it was a dish fit for a king….



  • 450g Strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 200g Stoneground Rye flour
  • 30g Hemp protein powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 x 7g Sachet dried yeast
  • 1½ tbsp raw honey
  • 200g walnut halves, roughly chopped


  • In a large bowl,mix together the flours, hemp protein powder and salt. Make a well in the centre.
  • Re-activate the yeast by mixing it in a small bowl with the honey and 230 ml warm water.
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the well of the flours and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  • Add another 230 ml of water to the bowl and gradually mix in the flours, making a soft but not sticky dough.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Add the walnuts and knead for another 2-3 minutes then return to a greased bowl, cover and leave to rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.
  • Knock back the dough, knead again for 2 minutes and then divide into two portions.
  • Shape each one and place on a baking sheet. Cover and again leave to rise for 1 ½ hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7.
  • Slash the top of each loaf three times and bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 190°C (375°F)
  • Gas Mark 5 and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped underneath.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack.


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Hemp – a Local Superfood

Why Local Mineral Water is a Good Thing


What is the difference between Natural Mineral Water and Spring Water?

 Natural Mineral Water – must come from an identified and protected source. It is guaranteed to be consistent in composition and naturally wholesome without any treatment – except in some cases the addition of carbon dioxide to make the water sparkle. Natural Mineral Water status is only granted to waters that are demonstrated to be free from pollution and have a characteristic stable composition.

Spring water – there are certain treatments permitted, so this is not necessarily as pure.

So, natural mineral water must be free from pollution and this means ‘Few other industries, except perhaps organic farming,’ Jo Jacobius of the BBWP insists, ‘play such a major role in protecting the countryside, doing much to minimise environmental damage.’ (as printed in an article in The Guardian, by Lucy Siegle).  Overall, if the land is to be free from pollution, then the land around commercially appointed springs in the UK are ‘some of the best managed environments in the country’ (British Bottled Water Producers).

Keeping it local


But it’s not all good news – the water that has been brought from overseas will carry a huge carbon footprint.  Some luxury brands will have travelled thousands of miles to be brought to the table and nearly a quarter of the bottled water we drink in the UK comes from abroad.

There are so many compelling reasons to buy locally – not just because the quality of the water is much better if not stored in bottles for a long time, but also the carbon footprint is reduced.

It also helps keep the local economy buoyant and of course, in this Brexit transitional no-mans land, there is the stable cost without factoring in the Euro exchange rate as you’re buying a UK – local, even better – product.  The bottles, by the way, are also made in the UK so cost is as stable as any manufactured product can be.


Health Benefits

So why do we drink mineral water and not just tap water?  Our tap water is perfectly clean, but particularly in the South Downs, our water tends to be very hard and the taste can be tainted by the chlorination processes in filtering the water.

South Downs Natural Mineral Water is drawn from over 400ft underground, enriched with minerals deep from within the Sussex Downs it is untouched at source. South Downs Water is naturally filtered through deep chalk layers and the water has a delicious fresh taste. It is naturally high in calcium and low in sodium.

The only addition to the water – well, the sparkling, is a slight burst of carbonisation to give a gentle effervescence.

The well at South Downs water is right in the South Downs National Park, near Chichester.  So, although it is bottled – the bottling plant is very small and water is not left for a long time on shelves.  So like any other product – is supplied as fresh as possible.

The Technical Data

When South Downs Water started drawing their water commercially, the technical analysis showed that the mineral water is low in sodium and has a pH value of 7.5.

So because it is drawn through layers and layers of chalk, then the result is a water that is high in calcium and low in sodium with a balanced flavour.



We stock South Downs Mineral Water in our online shop.

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Why Local Mineral Water is a Good Thing

The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Yep, when you’re the designated driver, standing at the bar leaves you with difficult decisions.  To leave the pub at the end of the evening with your heart racing from probable caffeine overload – or the nasty sugary taste left after too much fake raspberry.

Non-alco drinks don’t have to be dull/sweet/fizzy.  A little while ago, Nick and I were invited to join a group at an award evening.  It was a foodie award sponsored by our own Brighton Gin.  A bottle of gin was drunk with a very special Kombucha mixer – according to the brochure.  We had a massive pitcher of this deliciously decadent tasting pink stuff on the table, so assumed our hosts had kindly pre-mixed and left us a gin cocktail.  After much sharing, a red-faced waiter came over WITH OUR GIN.  We hadn’t even noticed that we’d been drinking the unlaced mixer.  So, clearly debunking the power of conditioning is that a great drink must be alcoholic (or maybe that’s just us…).

Kombucha Mocktails Muddle with fresh herbs and juices – Kombucha gives your mocktail a kind-of sophisticated, adult flavour…and there are some gorgeous recipes to be found just here >>.


Apple Juice – well, we are in Sussex, aren’t we?  If we didn’t have more varieties of juice than you can possibly count, then things aren’t as they should be.  It’s a joy walking through the orchard at Ringden Farm, where there are fields of apple trees of heritage and modern varieties.  All these are picked through their season and some are pressed at the farm.


So, from Ringden, there are varieties of juice to choose from, which are as complex as choosing a bottle of wine.  From the heritage Grenadier – a tart, citrussy juice through to the honeyed sweetness of a Russet.  All the apple juices and apple-juice blends are described here in their categories.

So….the blended juices. Whenever we have done a farmers market, we always have bottles of Beetroot and Apple.  Most people are not so keen to try but nearly all are converted and love the slight earthiness that beetroot brings to a sweet juice…which is obviously preaching to the converted, if you’re a smoothie maker.

The Apple and Strawberry is also a winner with the drivers, as surprisingly, it’s one of the less sweet juices.  Not sure why that is- it just has a kind of pleasant fruitiness.

Mocktails Using Apple Juice – Well, naturally, as it’s a great base to lighten up or add punchy flavours like ginger.  A refreshing one for us is the Virgin Mojito or for a party pitcher, maybe a Red Apple Sangria type cocktail is light and add as much lime as you feel will add a bit of zing.

Or, warm the cockles with a lively glass of Mulled Apple.


Elderflower Cordial combined with apple, is something you can keep as a drink all year round (and not just for sloshing into fizz).  Apple, Elderflower and Mint is light and refreshing for adults or kids.

Or for a drink that has a sparkle of colour, since it’s the party season descending, after all -then Jamie has the ideal unboozy fizz with this Elderflower Lemonade with Frozen Berries.


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See our range of juices and water online.



The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Ethical Sussex Turkey


Here’s Rita – the new addition to our Fin and Farm team.  At the moment, she’s getting to know some our farms, so first stop last week was Holmansbridge Farm, over near Lewes at the foot of the Sussex Downs – to see the Turkey flock.

You can see from the pic, that the turkeys are free to roam in a spacious field – although the whole experience was a bit disconcerting at first for Rita, who hasn’t picked up a turkey before!


Space to roam is important for the birds to be unstressed and be allowed their natural behaviour patterns of roaming, scratching around and getting enough fresh air and exercise.  In bad weather they have their barn to retreat.

Holmansbridge Farm have been rearing and preparing turkey in the same way for three generations.  The turkeys are reared on the farm and fed a natural diet – no growth hormones – and since all the preparation is done on the farm, you can be sure of receiving a fine ethical local bird.

How to choose?  White or Bronze?

Holmansbridge rear White or Bronze turkeys.  Firstly, obviously their plumage, but otherwise it’s a matter of taste.

Bronze turkeys were originally brought to Europe from the Americas, domesticated from their wild bird species.  So the Bronze varieties are gamier and darker with a juicier, meatier texture.

White turkey is the result of breeding in Europe over the last couple of centuries and has a lighter, more delicate flavour – and is the variety we are most familiar with here in Britain.  It also tends to carry more breast meat, as a general rule.

However, all the birds are hand plucked and hung for around 14 days for maximum richness of flavour and texture.

What size do I need?

Our birds start at around 4kg and grow up to around 12kg.  Obviously as a natural meat, the size is not exact when you buy, so you must expect to give or take some grams.

The size guide below tells you how many you can feed per kg – allowing enough leftovers for your turkey sandwiches!

  • 4kg:   Serves 4
  • 5kg:   Serves 6
  • 6kg:   Serves 8
  • 7kg:    Serves 10
  • 8kg:    Serves 12
  • 9kg:    Serves 14
  • 10kg:  Serves  16
  • 11kg:   Serves 18
  • 12kg:   Serves 20

How to carve?

You can make the most of your turkey and not make a mash of it, with good carving skills….

Good old Jamie Oliver, has an easy video you can see here, so you can look like a pro.


Roasting and Leftovers?

We will cover this in a separate blog as we’ve been looking at tons of amazing ways to cook a turkey – including freeing your oven by using your barbecue….


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Ethical Sussex Turkey

Organic Winter Purslane and Sorrel


Very excited – we have nailed this one – for ages we were trying to identify the name of a delicious salad leaf that we ate while living in Turkey some years ago.  We thought it was Lamb’s Lettuce, but now after a bit of idle Googling, we discovered it is actually Winter Purslane.

Purslane isn’t that often eaten now in the UK, so it’s become something of a rarity to find on the shelves as we are tending to reach for standard Mediterranean leaves.  This is a massive shame, as it is a hardy succulent leaf that is bursting with good nutritional value and full of fresh flavour in winter months.

Containing essential winter vitamins of A, B, C and E – and minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium – our earlier relatives would have regularly eaten this to ward off winter germs and keep their teeth in their heads.

It’s reputed anti-inflammatory properties also made it popular in Chinese medicine (where it’s known as Horse Tooth Amaranth).

Anyway, good stuff aside – it’s a wonderful leaf for a totally delicious Turkish side salad.  We used to eat this nearly every day with fresh tomatoes and cucumber.


Pic Highlights of Turkey – our village, by the way

It was called in our village of Çiftlikköy: Semisotto – and in the days of Dial-Up, we never did find the translation from the verbal interpretation…most people told us it was a local herb and not found in the UK as we tended to find it growing wild.  However, Bingo, we stumbled on a Turkish site and found it is spelled Semizotu and is our delicious Purslane.

Purslane has a slightly sour and citrussy flavour – a bit salty…so it works well with a creamier dressing – or a tangy citrus/olive oil combo.  Being in Turkey, the dressing was obviously natural yoghurt and they make a stunning combination which is the easiest thing in the world to prepare:

Semizotu Salad


  • A good handful of Purslane
  • 2 large tablespoons natural creamy yoghurt
  • 1 sprig chopped mint (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Seasoning – don’t be too light handed with the salt
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix the yoghurt, seasoning, garlic and herbs together and gently fold into the purslane without crushing.  If your yoghurt is very creamy and thick, then just gently add a little milk or water to reduce slightly.  Drizzle with the olive oil and serve.


Image:  Nefis Yemek Tarifleri


Sorrel takes the citrussy, slightly tangy taste a little further down the line.

We would write a full blog about Sorrel, but the wonderful blog site of Chocolate and Zucchini does a stunning job of giving you all you can possibly know about this much underused veg.

Click on the link here and see a whole host of pairings and recipes.


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Organic Winter Purslane and Sorrel

Sussex Apples – How to choose?


Sussex is famous for apples (hence the vast range of fabulous cider brewed here) – but choosing is a more difficult matter, as we are not short of  varieties – all with their unique qualities and suited to different culinary uses.

With 11 new season varieties to choose from that are available now the mid-season fruit is picked – what would you prefer to use for your cheeseboard – as opposed to a quick snack – or to bake with?

Here is a quick checklist below to how to choose your perfect apple from the new season Sussex fruit:



The perfect cooking apple with a tangy, tart flavour and moist fluffy texture when cooked.



The classic Sussex apple.  Crisp and juicy with a russet skin and creamy white flesh.

Not for cooking.  Young apples are crisp and great for cheeseboards. As they mature, they are softer and delicious for snacking and tarts.


Charles Ross

A largeish apple related to Cox.  Sweet and good for a cheeseboard.

Again, crisp when young but more fleshy when mature.



Perfect for snacking and juicing. A really juicy apple with a bright red tinting on a bright lime green flesh.

Digital StillCamera

Ellison’s Orange

Sweet and fairly large with a hint of aniseed flavour.  Very juicy and the texture is more like that of a pear than an apple – so great for juicing.


Kidd’s Orange

A bright, sweet honey-scented apple – very juicy. Great for juicing and chopping into cereal for breakfast- or cheeseboards.


Lord Lambourne

A delicious sweet russeted apple.  Bright skin and deliciously rich taste – wonderful in salads and juices.


Red Devil

A bright red apple with red tinted flesh. Sweet and juicy so good for juices, snacking (if you like a more tart apple), salads and cheese board.  Beautiful pink juice.



A classic Sussex apple.  Very crisp flesh russeted and a distinctive honey flavour. Perfect for juicing and cheeseboards.

A marmite of an apple for snacking as some people are put off by the fibrous skin.



A perfect snacking apple. Crisp bright red skin and sweet flavour. Lovely on a cheese board with grapes or equally in a snackbox. Better when younger as not a great keeper.

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Sussex Apples – How to choose?

Yukon Gold – Culinary Treasure


Well it’s been a bit quiet on our email front lately – we’ve been busy beavering away with a new website for our new gift boxes and hampers – but more of that soon!

It’s good timing that as we’ve tipped into October and the wind and rain has whipped up down here on the South Coast, we can turn to our newly picked Yukon Gold potatoes from Morghew Park.  So all thoughts turn to deliciously buttery, soft and delicately flaky dishes that warm the cockles of the heart.

Yukon Gold are thin skinned, golden fleshed potatoes which are pretty much one of the earliest varieties to welcome Autumn. Originally a Peruvian variety, as most golden potatoes are, this made the journey to North America where it was dubbed Yukon Gold after the Yukon river.

People often avoid potatoes as carbohydrates, but they have such wonderful nutritional qualities that they shouldn’t be underestimated.  The Yukon contains nearly twice as much vitamin C as a regular baker and adds some potassium as well.

It’s also a highly versatile friend in your kitchen as it’s a robust roaster and chipper – and to that add hash browns and gratins as well –  but makes fantastically fluffy jacket potatoes as well.  They are little stars if you’re making Thrice Cooked Chips and of course, as crisps are utterly dreamy.


This variety has a very thin skin so needs some protection.  Store in the veg crisper drawer in a paper bag – or make sure a plastic bag has plenty of ventilation holes.  Keep away from light and remember these aren’t keepers.  Don’t store for more than a week or two, ideally, to eat them at their best.


Perfect Sauteed Yukon Gold potatoes – like roasties but crispy fried in the pan with clarified butter (which is actually very easy to make as well)…and pictured at the top of this page.

We have long argued at home whether Golden Wonder crisps are a Northern or Southern phenomenon…(fyi the North is winning out here).  Either way, they are THE crisps for kids of the 1970’s and 80’s and traditionally been made with Yukon Gold.  So no event worth it’s salt [and vinegar, heh] is complete without a very, very large bowl of freshly salted crisps – and homemade is possibly even better and worth the effort, if you can stop yourself from eating them all before serving. Not easy…


Yukon Gold Jacques Pepin Style – although we usually know them in the UK as Potato Boulangere…so named because French villagers used to put their dish of potatoes into the local bread ovens to cook slowly.  Actually, this is one of our family favourites so we often cook our pots this way – and as we have two veggies among us, we use a good quality low-salt stock and a sprig of rosemary from the garden for added flavour.  Deliciously flavoursome as a side with pretty much anything – and a warming dish to have on a cold evening which we often chuck some butter beans into for a warming easy one pot dish with a  steamed broccoli.

Nick’s sister introduced us to blinis one Christmas and it’s become a small obsession of ours.  Ethical caviar can now once again be a realistic purchase – with new production techniques which are harmless to fish, then blinis with caviar can be enjoyed with impunity – and what a delicious way to start a celebration with a soft pillowy Yukon Gold Potato Blini topped with salty caviar and creme fraiche.

By the way, for veggies, there is this abundantly luxurious recipe for aubergine caviar (eggplant) that makes a perfectly good alternative…or this version which includes quinoa for a similarly popping effect.


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Yukon Gold – Culinary Treasure