Kalettes – What on earth are they?

They say the best things come in small packages, and these little leafy, ruffled parcels, packed with flavour and nutrients stand testament to that!

As a relatively new vegetable which was first introduced to the UK market in 2010, you may be wondering what on earth are Kalettes? These mini green marvels are Channel Farm’s latest young additions to the Brassica family, born from the innovative fusion of Kale and Brussel Sprouts. Originally named the ‘flower sprout’, Kalettes were first developed 20 years ago by Dr Jamie Claxton and the team at Tozer seeds in Surrey who were looking to create something new for the modern consumer that was convenient for cooking whilst also boasting great flavour. For some, the notion of experimenting with vegetables might raise concerns, but fear not—Kalettes are not products of genetic modification by some mad scientist in a lab. Rather, their hybrid nature emerged through fertilising one plant with the other’s pollen – a perfectly natural process. This is only Channel Farm’s second season growing our own Kalettes, which has resulted in more prosperous results compared to last season. We are excited and pleased by the quality of the produce so far which can be bought from our Food Hall alongside our other glorious greens. For this blog we’re going to be giving Kalettes the spotlight they deserve, delving into all the delicious ways you can prepare and incorporate these nutritious newbies into your dishes.

What do Kalettes taste like?

In our opinion? De-lic-ious!

The combination of the two ‘superfoods’ Kale and Brussel Sprouts has resulted in a crunchy yet tender texture with a subtle sweet and nutty flavour. Brussel Sprouts famously are known to receive mixed reactions, particularly amongst children due to their bitter taste. Whilst we remain loyal advocates for the misunderstood sprout, some may find kalettes, with its milder flavour, more agreeable. Dr Jamie Claxton noted in an interview with saucydressings, that during development they only chose varieties to combine the flavour profile with the best kale and spout line ups. In this way, kalettes possess the best qualities of each vegetable parent without their less popular traits such as kale’s tough stalk or brussel’s bitterness. If you want to learn more about kalettes’ origins and development, you can find the rest of Claxton’s interview here.

Are Kalettes healthy?

You betcha! Just look at their family heritage…

The Brassica family are prized for their nutritional value, being rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Aside from Kale and Brussel Sprouts, some other members of the family tree include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and turnips. They have double the number of vitamins B6, C and E compared to Brussel Sprouts and are also high in vitamin K which bodes great for bone and heart health. Like other cruciferous vegetables, kalettes are rich with fiber and contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. They don’t call them superfoods for nothing!

When are Kalettes in season?

Kalettes are typically a winter harvested vegetable, currently in season between October and early April. This makes them great accompaniments to some of our favourite hearty and comforting winter recipes, not to mention a great addition to Christmas Dinner or a Sunday Roast!

How do you cook Kalettes?

This is where is gets fun! One of the best things about Kalettes is their incredible versatility in the kitchen, allowing you to get creative with your cooking. These green gems can be roasted, sautéed, steamed, or even eaten raw in salads. Their mild, nutty flavor pairs well with a variety of ingredients and seasonings, making them a perfect addition to stir-fries, pasta dishes, soups, and more.

For a quick and healthy snack why not whip up a batch of kalettes crisps? These green crunchy goodies are irresistibly tasty, so easy to make and packed with nutrients. Simply toss your Kalettes in oil, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, ½ a tablespoon of sea salt and pop in the oven to bake at 200C for 5 mins until they look crispy.  

Why stop at snacks though when this mighty veg was made to be the main event? The creators of Kalettes have a whole host of exciting and colourful dishes to impress your friends with using the latest leafy wonder on the block. Check out their website to discover the endless possibilities you can whip up using the versatile and all-round crowd pleasing Kalettes! We’ve included our favourite recipe with spicy twist below!

Stir Fried Kalettes with Tahini, Chilli & Garlic

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Pack Kalettes
  • 2 Tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Sesame Oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Red Chillies, Deseeded And Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice

For the sauce:

  • 120g Tahini Paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine)

Method

Step 1

Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, add three to five tablespoons of water (the amount you need will depend on the tahini, so add gradually), and whisk until the sauce is thick but pourable, a bit like honey. Set aside.

Step 2

Wash the Kalettes, separate the leaves and dry thoroughly.

Step 3

Heat both oils in a large sauté pan on a high flame, then fry the garlic and chilli for one to two minutes, until the garlic is golden. Lift out the garlic and chilli, place in a separate dish.

Step 4

Add the Kalettes into the hot pan, add the soy and a tablespoon of water, and cook to wilt down. As the greens collapse, add any additional Kalettes leaves to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, for three to four minutes, until the Kalettes are cooked yet crunchy and there is no liquid left in the pan.

Step 5

Stir through the sesame seeds and lime juice and take off the heat.

Step 6

Spoon the greens on to a platter and drizzle the sauce over the top (hold a bit back to serve on the side). Scatter the fried garlic and chilli on top, and serve.

Visit the Larder Food Hall today and grab our own Channel Farm grown Kalettes today! Got a burning question? Have a chat with our team members who will be more than happy to suggest simple and delicious ways to prepare these glorious greens! Discover more ways to cook our locally grown vegetables here.

Glorious Greens

We all want to do our bit to support local farmers, right? But what can we do to help? Before you heave on your wellies and head for the nearest field, we’re here to tell you there’s a simpler way and it starts with your shopping list. By purchasing and cooking with seasonal vegetables from local suppliers, we can lower costs for our farmers whilst reducing the carbon emissions involved in transporting non-local produce. Not only is seasonal food tastier, more nutritious and better for the planet, it’s also cheaper too, what’s not to love? Here at Loch Leven’s Larder, we’re fortunate to have our very own Channel Farm keeping our kitchen, cafes and Food Hall fully stocked with the freshest, most flavourful vegetables all year round.

Channel Farm, alongside Loch Leven’s Larder, is a family run affair and was first taken over by the Niven family in 2002, proudly making us the 3rd generation to farm the land. Rob and Michael’s Grandfather first bought the 200-acre farm in 1934, when supplying food for the country was an absolute paramount. Back when a large majority of the oats and hay grown was used just to fuel the horse and carts and trains were the only way to transport large scale goods. Channel Farm is uniquely positioned with a south-facing aspect, high-rainfall and cool summer temperatures at 400 feet above sea-level. In other words, the perfect conditions for quality vegetable farming. Nearly 90 years on (almost a century!), Channel Farm has expanded significantly, covering 750 acres, growing 25 different crops and supplying supermarkets and wholesale markets all across the UK. Let’s not forget as well, our very own Loch Leven’s Larder which sits at the heart of it all. When first buying over the land, our focus had always been to supply locally. Raising a young family at the time, we longed for a relaxed venue to spend time with the children whilst supporting local businesses in the Kinross and Perthshire area. Suddenly, an idea was born. We had the land, we had the produce, why not create our own? So, in 2006, after months of careful planning, determination and hard work that’s just what we did. Loch Leven’s Larder has grown with the farm throughout the years in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Our field-to-fork ethos has remained central to everything we do and this summer we’ve decided to showcase just a few of our farm’s seasonal vegetables to celebrate all things glorious greens!

Read on to find out more about Channel Farm, what vegetables we grow and some of our favourite ways to dish them up! All recipes are incorporated using Channel Farm veg and locally-sourced oils, ingredients and condiments sold within our Food Hall.

Broccoli

Broccoli, nature’s vibrant green jewel, is a vegetable that packs a punch in both taste and health benefits. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to give your immune system a turbo boost, these mighty trees are a part of the brassica family with four common varieties grown within the UK. This time of year, you can find Channel Farm growing the widely cultivated, Calabrese broccoli, specifically the Parthenon variety, appreciated for its bitter taste and crunchy texture. Channel Farm’s broccoli holds a special place in our hearts at the Larder, providing our cafes with fresh and versatile flavours. Head Chef Brian Padmore and his team are always looking for unique and simple ways to utilise the farm’s glorious greens. Have a go at our latest Broccoli salad dish and experience its robust flavour first hand.

BROCCOLI SALAD RECIPE

Serves 1

This recipe combines the fresh and tender steamed broccoli with the tangy flavours of lemon and red onion, enhanced by a hint of chilli flakes. The addition of hazelnuts provides a delightful texture and nuttiness that complements the dish perfectly. Steaming your broccoli is one of the best cooking methods to retain as many vitamins and minerals as possible, second to eating it raw. Steaming also strikes that perfect balance between tenderness and crunchiness and helps preserve that glorious green colour!

Ingredients

  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Chilli flakes
  • Tender stem broccoli
  • Preserved lemon
  • Candied mixed nuts
  • Rapeseed oil

Method

Step 1

Prepare the broccoli by cutting it into florets. Trim the stems and remove any tough parts.

Step 2

Fill a pot with water and bring it to the boil. Place a steamer or colander on top of the pot, ensuring that it doesn’t touch the water. Add the broccoli to the steamer basket, cover with lid, and steam for approximately 8 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender but still vibrant green. You can check if it is done by piercing the stalks with a fork.

Step 3

While the broccoli is steaming, prepare the lemon-onion dressing. In a bowl, combine the thinly sliced red onion, the zest of the lemon, lemon pulp (removing any seeds), chilli flakes, and rapeseed oil. Mix well to combine.

Step 4

Once the broccoli is cooked, transfer to the bowl with the lemon-onion dressing. Gently toss until fully coated. The acidity of the lemon will help brighten the flavours of the dish.

Step 5

Season the broccoli with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting according to your preference. Plate on a serving dish, sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts for a delightful crunch and nutty flavour, and enjoy!

KALE

Our next leafy member of the brassica family to take to the stage is kale! This versatile delight is a powerhouse when it comes to fibre and antioxidants. Here on Channel Farm, we grow two varieties of Kale, Curly and Cavolo Nero, or Tuscan Kale as some refer to it as. Curly Kale, as the name suggests, has tightly curled leaves, a deep green colour and a hearty and chewy texture. Cavolo Nero, on the other hand, has long, narrow, and deeply textured leaves that are a dark bluish-green colour. They are often described as having a slightly sweeter taste to the bitter Curly Kale. Its tender form makes it a popular choice for sauteing, braising and adding to soups and stews. Both varieties are packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K as well as being high in fibre and antioxidants. Below you’ll find one of our favourite dishes, guaranteed to make kale the highlight of dinnertime. You’ll find its robust and earthy flavours perfectly balance the aromatic spices of a traditional dahl.

Kale Dahl Recipe

Inspired by Clare Scrine’s The Shared Kitchen: Beautiful Meals Made From the Basics, available within our Gift Shop.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 60ml (1/4) cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 40g ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 375g brown lentils, rinsed
  • 750ml-litre vegetable stock or water
  • Large bunch of Channel Farm Kale, leaves picked and shredded
  • 1 long green chilli, finely chopped (optional), plus extra, sliced, to serve
  • ½ bunch of coriander stems and leaves
  • 150g raw cashew nuts, soaked in 250-500ml boiling water for 20 minutes
  • 1x400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1-2 limes

Spice mix

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

Step 1

Heat a large heavy-based saucepan or deep firing pan over medium heat add all the spice mix ingredients. Cook, tossing frequently for 2-3, until fragrant and beginning to pop. Pour the spices into a mortar and or bowl) and set aside to cool.

Step 2

Next, add the olive oil and diced onion to the warm pan and cook for 10-15 minutes over low heat, until the onion begins to caramelise. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, grind the spices using the mortar and pestle to a rough powder or pulse them in a food processor.

Step 3

Add the spices to the pan and stir well to combine. Add the lentils and 750ml (3 cups) of the stock or water and increase the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer, then reduce the heat back to low and allow the lentils to cook away for 15-20 minutes, adding a little more stock or water if needed.

Step 4

Blanch the kale in boiling water for 30 seconds maximum, until it brightens in colour, then drain in a colander and run under cold water. It’s important not to overcook the kale here, to ensure it retains a beautiful bright green colour. Add the cooled kale to a high-powered blender, along with the chilli if using) and coriander, then drain the cashew nuts and add them too. Band the mixture until smooth and silky, adding a splash of water if necessary to get the ingredients moving. If you only have a food processor, the kale probably won’t break down completely and give you a smooth, creamy texture, but it will still be delicious.

Step 5

Once the lentils are almost tender, but still have a little bite, add the coconut milk and stir well to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then sir through the kale mixture and turn off the heat, allowing the heat of the lentils to warm it through without losing its vibrant colour. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lime vice and so well. Taste the dahl and add more sugar, lime juice or salt to taste.

Step 6

Serve the dahl with rice, with a splash of green chilli chutney or some sliced green chilli, a swirl of coconut yoghurt and some fresh tomato and cucumber.

COURGETTE

Descendant from the squash family, next up we have our succulent and verdant courgettes, otherwise known as zucchinis to our American and Canadian friends. We’ll normally cut our courgettes when they are around 8 inches in length as this immature stage is when they’re at their sweetest and freshest. Courgette flowers are another sign of a truly fresh and delicious courgette. Whilst these yellow blossoms are edible and delectable in cooking, their highly perishable nature makes them difficult to sell in supermarkets. Luckily for us, we’re able to pick these beauties straight off the field and send them direct to our kitchens where they can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. There’s a multitude of ways to prepare our courgettes, whether that’s boiled, steamed, stuffed, baked, fried or perhaps grilled on a BBQ this summer. They are renowned for their ease of cultivation, making them a favourite among gardeners and farmers alike. Their hardy nature, fast growth and high yield makes these glorious greens one of our most productive and satisfying crops we grow.

Soft Courgettes with Harissa and Lemon

Inspired by Ottolinghi’s recipe book, Flavour, available within our Gift Shop

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 85ml olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1kg courgettes, finely sliced
  • 10g basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Salt

Method

Step 1

Place a large, non-stick sauté pan on a medium-high heat with the oil and garlic. Gently try for 4 minutes, stirring often, until soft, golden and aromatic. You don’t want the garlic to become at all browned or crispy, so turn the heat down if necessary. Remove 3 tablespoons of oil, along with half the garlic, and transfer to a small bowl with the harissa, chilli, preened lemon and lemon juice. Stir together and set aside.

Step 2

Return the pan to a high heat and add the courgettes and a teaspoon of salt. Cook for 18 minutes, stirring often, until the courgettes are very soft, but are still mostly holding their shape (you don’t want the courgettes to brown, so turn the heat down if necessary). Sir through half the basil and transfer to a platter. Spoon the harissa mixture over the courgettes. Leave to sit for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and finish with the remaining basil.

LEEKS

Last but certainly not least, we bring our list of glorious greens to a close with the crisp and comforting leek. Boasting long and tender stalks, this vegetable comes from the allium family and is simply bursting with nutrients whilst exuding an onion-like aroma. In fact, leeks can be used as a replacement for onions if you’re looking for a milder flavour profile. These sturdy stems have a knack for blending with an array of ingredients, making them a culinary gift in the Larder. One irresistible combination we recommend trying this season is leek with miso! Whether it’s in a soup, a glaze for roasted leeks or combined in a sauce, the natural sweetness of leeks will help to mellow the intensity of miso’s umami notes, resulting in a well-rounded and mouth-watering dish. You can find a number of organic and locally-sourced key ingredients within our Food Hall, including Clearspring’s organic white miso paste, made from an old family recipe in Japan’s Nagano prefecture.

Leeks with Miso and Chive Salsa

Inspired by Ottolinghi’s recipe book Flavour, available within our Gift Shop.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 medium Channel Farm leeks
  • 300ml sunflower oil, for deep frying
  • 1 ¼ tsp cornflour
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and flaked sea salt

Miso and Chive Salsa

  • 15g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp mixed black and white sesame seeds, very well toasted
  • 15g chives, finely chopped, plus extra tsp to serve
  • 1 ½ tbsp white miso paste
  • 60ml mirin
  • ¾ tbsp rice vinegar

Method

Step 1

Begin by removing and discarding the tough outer layers of the leeks. Ensure to wash the leeks thoroughly to eliminate any grit. Trim the darker green tops of the leeks and set them aside, aiming for each leek to be approximately 22cm in length.

Step 2

Take the reserved green leek tops, weighing around 60g, and finely slice them into thin strips measuring about 8cm long. Rinse them well to remove any remaining grit, dry them thoroughly, and set aside.

Step 3

To prepare the salsa, use a pestle and mortar (or the side of a knife) to pound the ginger and ¼ teaspoon of flaked salt into a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and add all the remaining salsa ingredients. Stir well to combine everything and set the salsa aside.

Step 4

Fill a pot with lightly salted water, ensuring it is large enough to accommodate the leeks when laid down. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a simmer. Once simmering, add the leeks and reduce the heat to medium. To prevent the leeks from floating above the water, place a smaller lid on top of them. Simmer gently for approximately for 20 minutes or until a knife easily goes through the leeks while they still hold their shape. Drain the leeks by standing them vertically in a colander to ensure enough drainage.

Step 5

While the leeks are draining, take a medium, high- sided saucepan and pour in the sunflower oil. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Line a plate with kitchen paper and toss the dried, sliced green leek tops with 1 teaspoon of cornflour. Once the oil is very hot (around 170 celcius), add the leek tops and fry them for about 2 minutes, stirring with a fork, until they turn golden and crispy. Transfer the fried leek tops to the paper-lined plate using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle them with some flaked salt.

Step 6

In the same pan, add the garlic along with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of cornflour and fry for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently to separate the slices, until the garlic becomes crispy and golden. Add the fried garlic to the leek tops and sprinkle the mixture with flaked salt.

Step 7

Arrange the leeks on a large plate and spoon the salsa over them. Drizzle olive oil on top and garnish with the fried leeks tops and chopped chives. Sprinkle a little lime juice for an extra burst of flavour. Serve and enjoy!

Samhain: Celebrate the end of Harvest, folklore and wandering spirits of a traditional Scottish Halloween.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.

-Robert Burns

Ah, Halloween. A time for moody lighting, sweet treats and eerie tales. Whilst this spooky holiday has gained immense popularity in the United States, where elaborate house decorations and well thought out costumes reign supreme, Halloween’s origins can actually be traced back to 8th century Celtic times. A great deal of the traditions we associate with Halloween today, or as it was previously known, All-Hallows eve, have their roots in the ancient Irish and Scottish Gaelic festival Samhain (pronounced “Sah-win”). This religious pagan celebration commenced on the evening of the 31st till the 1st November, marking the end of harvest and the transition into winter- the darker half of the year. It was considered to be a liminal time when supernatural beings from the otherworld could cross the boundary into the mortal realm more easily. Whilst we adore the gorgeous sights and tranquillity that surrounds us here in Scotland, during this ancient pagan holiday, before electricity was invented, the country-side could be a very dark and spooky place to reside indeed.

Towering bonfires would be lit, whether this was to provide protection or guide the way for spirits is uncertain but nowadays these ritualistic blazes have been swapped out for tealight candles – much safer. Masks and costumes weren’t worn just to give your friends and neighbours a fright, but to disguise oneself from wandering ghosts and ghouls. As the festival of Samhain symbolised the end of harvest and all its abundance as well as incorporating spiritualistic rituals, it’s no surprise that food, particularly seasonal produce played a fundamental role in the festivities. Not only would offerings be left out for supernatural entities but feasts and family gatherings were customary, with fruits and vegetables used as fortune-telling props within games and folklore. Here at Loch Leven’s Larder and Channel Farm, we certainly appreciate the enchanting quality of locally grown, seasonal produce. However, during traditional Scottish Halloween celebrations, it seems these vegetables possessed a much more profound and transformative significance that extended well beyond creating a delicious winter stew. Read on to discover more about Gaelic Samhain traditions and the fascinating ways they incorporated our favourite vegetables into their superstitious customs.

Kale Pulling

How does that saying go? Love is in the…earth? Believe it or not, it was common Scottish tradition during the Samhain festival for young, eligible men and women to spend the evening of the 31st October uprooting Kale stalks as part of a fortune-telling ritual, to decipher the characteristics of their future spouse. This tradition was steeped in folklore and superstition, with Celts believing the size, shape and taste of the kale stalk they pulled held clues to the attributes and disposition of their future love. Whether they were tall and healthy, short and stubby, wrinkly, bitter or sweet. Even the amount of dirt stuck to the vegetable could indicate their status and wealth. Whilst this Halloween festivity appears to have been overtaken by less muddy and hands on activities such as trick-or-treating, we still believe our Channel Farm kale has a transformative quality to it, particularly in cooking. However, you’ll have to navigate your romantic life on your own I’m afraid.

NUT BURNING

The superstitious match-making doesn’t end there. Young couples could also be seen on Halloween night throwing nuts onto open fires to determine the future of their partnership. Who’d have thought this liminal time between the end of harvest and beginning of winter was such a popular opportunity to question your relationship. If their nuts quietly smouldered, the couple would have a peaceful and smooth union. If they crackled and popped amongst the flames, the relationship was doomed. Can’t argue with that, eh. Robert Burn’s famous poem ‘Halloween’, written in 1785, was one of his longest works and described the common folk practices and supernatural happenings of a Scottish Halloween night, including these fortune-telling traditions.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.

TURNIP CARVING

Whether you’re a Halloween fanatic or not, chances are you’ve heard of the timeless tradition of pumpkin carving. This age-old practice has stood the test of time and still remains a beloved activity for friends and families today. Plus, it’s a great craft to keep the kids entertained for hours, so long as you don’t mind a bit of mess or your house smelling of pumpkin for the next 3 days.

Pumpkin carving wasn’t originally just a means for decorating your windows and doorsteps, it was used to ward off evil spirits. Interestingly, during the early 19th century, the Celts didn’t turn to pumpkins for this purpose but instead…drum roll please, used turnips, or neeps as the Scots affectionately call them. Now, if you’ve ever cooked with turnips before, you’re probably thinking how painstaking it must have been to hollow out and carve this root vegetable – and you’d be right. The choice of turnip was down to accessibility, usually plentiful after the recent harvest. It wasn’t until the first Scottish and Irish immigrants travelled to North America, where they discovered pumpkins to be much larger and more convenient to carve, that these surpassed in popularity. Our Channel Farm pumpkins are an absolute triumph this year and will make the perfect canvas for your lanterns! Although, there’s far more to pumpkins then just carving spooky designs. Once you’ve scooped out all your seeds and innards, pop these aside and save them for cooking or baking with later. Here are just a few delicious and creative ways to get the most out of your pumpkin leftovers:

  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Pumpkin stock
  • Compost

GUISING

Another traditional practice used to protect the Celts against malevolent beings was the tradition of Guising. During the ancient Pagan festivals, when spirits were believed to drift across the border between this world and the next, the Celts would disguise themselves to blend in with these ghosts. Masks were donned, costumes crafted and children would make their way through the neighbourhood, receiving fruits and nuts for protection. In the past, songs and dances were common in exchange for gifts. Nowadays, handing out fruit instead of sweets will earn you a pretty sour response.

HAUD YER HAUNS

It seems the Scots loved a challenging game, particularly ones involving no hands and a sweet treat. Among these traditions, one that has endured the test of time is the game “Dookin for apples”, an ancient Celtic pastime. It remains a popular and amusing game at Halloween parties to this day. Players are tasked with the seemingly simple yet entertaining challenge of retrieving floating apples from a basin of water using only their mouths or by spearing them with a fork clenched between their teeth.

Another messy yet tasty traditional Scottish Halloween game involved treacle scones, a blindfold, string and once again, no hands. A line of string would be hung above the players heads, adorned with sticky hanging treacle scones which participants would race each other to eat. Nowadays, these scones have been replaced with donuts as these are much easier to tie string around. Why not immerse yourself in the rich Celtic traditions and try one of our treacle scones in the Larder this month, specially made by our in-house pastry chefs? Don’t worry, we’ll be serving these treats on a plate with a lovely cup of tea, not on a string.

BANNED FOODS

Finally, and perhaps the spookiest Scottish Halloween notion of all was the banning of sausage rolls. You heard right, a clause within the Witchcraft Act of 1735 pronounced the consumption of pork or pastries on Halloween forbidden. The Witchcraft Act abolished the hunting and execution of accused witches in Great Britain and made claiming to possess powers a criminal offence. Due to pork’s loose connection with witchcraft, with pork bones being used in spells etc, sausage rolls on Halloween were officially off the menu. Thankfully, this clause was repealed in the early 1950s, meaning we can indulge in as many delicious Loch Leven’s Larder home-made sausage rolls as we please. But those ancient tales of pastry-less times still send a shiver down our spines. We can’t picture October without the savoury, smoky flavours of our home-made Pork and Veggie sausage rolls, they are simply to die for.

 Hosting a spooky gathering this season? Why not serve our savoury pastries and any snacks of your choosing alongside Cottage Delight’s Roast Pepper dipping sauce for a bloody and theatrical finish.

Embrace the Scottish Halloween celebrations this year by visiting Loch Leven’s Larder and exploring our seasonal assortment of home decorations. Discover exquisitely crafted pumpkin ornaments, eerie wall decor, and aromatic, cozy candles. Immerse yourself in age-old traditions and indulge in freshly baked scones for a delightful treat. Grab pumpkins and turnips for carving, nuts for burning, and locally grown Channel Farm kale for culinary delights—or perhaps a touch of fortune-telling.

From all of us here at the Larder, we wish you a spooktacular All-Hallows-Eve.

How to build a Christmas Charcuterie Board

Tis the season to be snacky!

Ah, Christmas – that magical time of year when we open our homes to friends and families, cherish quality time together, and of course, savour seasonal and irresistible food. When it comes to delicious flavours and treats, there’s no better time to indulge then the festive season, and at Loch Leven’s Larder we are proud to supply some of the best local and artisanal products Scotland has to offer. But with so many culinary delights available, it can feel overwhelming and challenging to decide what to serve your guests. Here’s our advice: Prepare a Christmas charcuterie board!

These delectable boards are the perfect solution to impressing your friends and family this Christmas, creating a glorious spread they’ll be talking about all year round. It’s a festive and artful way to serve a wide variety of flavours and textures, allowing everyone to enjoy their favourite bites. Plus, the lack of cooking makes them super easy to prepare and creates a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere for your gathering. 

This is one of our favourite ways to showcase our products and throughout this article, we’ll be talking you through how to assemble your own festive and crowd-pleasing board. We’ll look at how to select your meats and cheeses, delicious accoutrements and ways to garnish and decorate for a Christmas-y feel. Along the way, we’ll be sharing invaluable tips and insights from our newest member of the Larder team, Robin, a true connoisseur when it comes to the world of wine, cheese, and delectable deli meats. He’s also very friendly, so if you spot him around the Food Hall, don’t be afraid to say hello and tap into his knowledge. 

Charcuterie boards, pronounced shar-KOO-ter-ee, were first coined in 15th century France, pairing the two French terms ‘chair,’ meaning flesh and ‘cuit’ meaning cooked. They were originally invented to display a variety of cured meats and other goods but have since evolved to include a wide array of accoutrements. The more the merrier we say. 

From cheeses to fruits, chutneys to jams, crudites to assorted nuts, there’s something for everyone! Many cultures have developed their own take on the traditional spread, such as Italian salumeria, Japan’s ostumami, and the English Ploughman’s lunch, now an everyday pub meal which was once favoured for its portability when working outdoors. In recent years, foodie fanatics have taken to social media to put their own trendy spin on the traditional Charcuterie, creating dessert boards, butter boards, and even sushi boards. This versatile and finger food style of eating has really taken off and honestly we aren’t surprised!

When asked what he thought about this sudden resurrection in popularity, Robin put it down to “a general big push for quality and provenance throughout cheese and meat distribution. Small producers are getting a bigger presence and there’s soooo much about.” Producers are becoming more unique and experimental with their flavours, such as one of our newer cheeses to hit Loch Leven’s Larder, the Zirbenkonigen. This cow’s milk cheese has beautiful hints of pine blossom mixed in as the cheese is made. 

Aside from an appreciation for artisanal food products, a Charcuterie board offers a creative outlet and a rustic-yet fancy atmosphere for any gathering. A quick and simple way to enjoy a little luxury in your own home. For this blog, we’ll be keeping it simple and classic, discussing Loch Leven’s Larder’s finest cheeses, meats and picky bits to create a show-stopping Christmas Charcuterie board. 

WHAT TO INCLUDE?

First and foremost, you’ll need to select which cheeses and meats you want to include on your board. For those who are unfamiliar with the flavours and intensities of different cheeses, this may feel overwhelming but trust us it doesn’t have to be. 

“For a general guideline all you need is a little bit of variety. Go for at least two varieties of cured ham (could be prosciutto, could be salami) and at least three types of cheese-one soft, one hard, one blue.”

Yes, blue! You heard Robin right! Whilst some have an adverse reaction to blue mouldy cheese, put off by its pungent, sharp flavours and acidic notes, we encourage everyone to give this creamy and crumbly beauty a chance. Robin has some useful tips that helped turn him from a blue cheese hater to one of its biggest fans.

“Try combining your mouldy cheese with honey, a dessert wine, quince paste, or sweet chutney, basically anything really sweet that will balance out that saltiness and intensity of the blue cheese…I used to really not like blue cheese, you couldn’t pay me to even smell it. But during my wine course, we tasted some samples along with dessert wine and it was incredible… it just softens all of the harshness and brightens up all of the good flavours.” 

Stinky cheese aside, it’s important to have some milder options on your board as well. Varying your flavours and textures will ensure there’s something to please every palette. Brie is a great option along with cheddar and stilton. Here’s just some of our favourite cheeses and meats available in the Larder deli, all locally sourced from dairy farms and suppliers across Scotland and the UK. Pop in and visit the Larder deli and ask Robin yourself for recommendations on which cheeses and deli meats will make your Charcuterie board an all round winner!

Blue Cheeses

  • Blue Murder and Strathdon Blue by The Highland Fine Dairy, located along the coast of Dornoch Firm and to the west of Tain. Deliciously bold with a creamy texture. For a more complex palette, we’d recommend the Strathdon.
  • Lanark Blue by Errington Cheese, produced in the picturesque upper Clyde valley. Made seasonally from February to August from the milk of Lacaune Ewes. This transformative blue number is sweet and fresh in the spring but becomes stronger and can be peppery by Christmas.
  • Hebridean Blue by The Isle of Mull, produced in Scotland’s inner Hebrides.

Cheddars

  • Arran Cheese
  • Orkney smoked cheddar by The Island Smokery. Based in the seaside town of Stromness on the Orkney Islands in the far North of Scotland.
  • St Andrews Farmhouse cheddar and Red Anster from our most local supplier St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese company just outside Anstruther.

Soft Cheeses

  • The Lady Mary by Strathearn Cheese Co. Flavoured with locally forged wild garlic and truffled rapeseed oil.

Finally, Robin’s personal favourite from the deli:

  • Vacherin Mont d’Or, made from rich, unpasteurised cow’s milk, this cheese has a Brie-like, voluptuous melting texture. 

“Its creamy buttery richness is just lush. Plus it’s only available seasonally at this time of year, so makes a great addition to a Christmas themed feast.”

HOW TO ARRANGE YOUR BOARD

This is where your creativity and personal flair can truly shine. Crafting a stunning display is an art, and there’s no rigid template; just a few helpful guidelines to ensure it looks bountiful and aesthetically pleasing. One of the most fundamental parts of a beautiful party platter is the board you present it on. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborate, but should be large enough to hold the amount of food needed for your party size. 

A wooden chopping board will do well, especially if it has a raised rim to stop any elements spilling off the edge. Slate boards also look fantastic and can really elevate the overall look of your spread. Whether you’re after something wooden and rustic or sleek and elegant, Loch Leven’s Larder has a wide range of serving boards, beautifully crafted by the Scottish design company, Just Slate. For a Christmas themed board, utilising a wreath or tree shaped display will have a huge visual impact and is super simple! Just present your meats and cheeses in a circular shape with a hole in the middle, which you can choose to leave empty or filled with a cheese centrepiece. Now onto the fun bit…

THE ASSEMBLING

Start by laying out your cheeses.

“You want your cheeses to be roughly the same size and shape, which if you go by weight is pretty easy to do. If you’re visiting the Larder deli, we can cut our cheeses up to similar weights for our customers to make this process easy.”

Then add your jams, jellIes or chutneys. Either dollop these straight onto your board or use little ramekins/small bowls for less mess. You can use star shaped dishes for your dips to make the spread more festive!

Loch Leven’s Larder has its very own branded fig chutney, made by the award – winning, Galloway Lodge Preserves and is my absolute go to for cheese boards. It compliments the vast majority of our cheese selection and is a great way to tie in some Christmas flavours.”

Our heavenly range of preserves, jams and chutneys are also perfect accompaniments for a variety of cheeses. Whether you’re after something sweet or savoury, these products are guaranteed to elevate the flavours on your board. Here’s a few of our favourites:

  • Cottage Delight caramelised Red Onion Chutney – pairs well with stronger cheeses such as mature cheddar or stilton
  • LLL Fig Chutney
  • Quince paste/Membrillo (from our deli)
  • Tomato Chutney-pairs well with hard cheese
  • Trotters Mostarda (Italian condiment, Scottish made)
  • Fresh figs

Next, slot in your cured meats, presenting and folding them in neat patterns. Layering them on top of one another rather than laying them flat will be more visually appealing and make the board appear fuller. Similarly with your crackers, lay these staggered on top of one another.

Kindness Bakery Oatcakes

Finally, fill any gaps using garnishes, decoration and space stealing features. Pick green and red finishing touches that’ll bring the Christmas theme to life, things like grapes, holly, olives, pomegranates, rosemary or cranberries.

“If you’re planning on mixing sweet and savoury flavours, just make sure to do it deliberately. Things like honey and apples will always go well with the cheese but it’s not necessarily needed to make a good charcuterie. For something fresh and light to cut through the fatness of the meat, you’re better off with grapes. Stay away from pears, unless it’s specifically going with a blue cheese. For example pear and Stilton is a popular and classic…pairing (excuse the pun) but the pear won’t go as well with the other cheeses and meats so not quite as versatile.”

Edinburgh Honey Co. Forest Honey

BEFORE YOU PRESENT

“Start prepping your board outside of the fridge at least 15 minutes before you want to enjoy your beautiful feast. Allowing the components to reach room temperature enhances their flavours and textures, bringing out the best in each element. If you’re not through with your board within 2 hours, I would recommend at that point cling filming any leftovers you want to keep and popping it back in the fridge.”

If serving your board alongside a glass of red wine, open the bottle and leave it for the same 15 minutes. “Most of the time when I’ve heard people finding red wine too astringent, it’s almost always solved by letting the wine breathe a bit. If you’ve never done so before, try having a sip of your wine when you first open the bottle, then again 15 minutes later and see if you notice the difference.”

When it comes to wine and food pairings, the food is always the dominant flavour, so reds which tend to be bigger and bolder hold up better when served alongside cheese and meats. Our top pick in the Larder has to be the:

Chateau Videau bordeaux – a well-structured and medium bodied claret with black plum fruit. 

Similar to the way sweet honey and chutney helps with the strong flavours of blue cheese, this bordeaux contains botanics and elements to balance out their harsh notes. White wines, though slightly more diminished in comparison, can also cut through the richness of the cheese, with full-bodied and fruity whites offering weight and texture to match the cheese’s richness.

If customers would like to come in, I’m more than happy to help them personalise their own board and suggest which of our cheeses, meats and wines would suit their flavour preferences.”

All in all, remember to have fun when making your Charcuterie Board, there’s really no right or wrong way to go about it! The most crucial part is that you pick what you like. “It sounds really basic and simple to say but whatever flavours you enjoy and get the most excited for – go for those!”

We hope you found this article helpful and have been inspired for your next Christmas gathering. Stop by Larder Food Hall this month for all your seasonal products and goodies and make sure to say hello to Robin at the deli while you’re in! 

Merry Christmas from us all at Loch Leven’s Larder and happy snacking!