Producing Great Food In Northern Ireland
The Good Food Ireland community of food producers is an all island network which supplies great food from all over our wonderful land. It doesn’t matter where you go on the island of Ireland, you will find people who are part of our big foodie family!
Northern Ireland has been enjoying huge success on the food stage in recent years. The region is a hotspot for great food production, from beautiful meats and vegetables to specialist artisan creations. Today we introduce you to a quartet of Good Food Ireland producers based in Northern Ireland.
GM free seeds for oil have been grown on the Waring Estate farm in Northern Ireland since 1656, when Jane Harnett’s family home was built by one of her father’s ancestors. Her father has been a major player in supplying rapeseed oil for the supermarket sector. In 2005, working with expert guidance from Loughrea College, Jane developed her own label artisan Harnett’s Oils from rapeseed and hemp seed, also grown on the farm.
In 2006, with help from her Mum, she took her oils to St George’s Market in Belfast and other festival markets. Customer feedback was very positive, particularly on the Hemp Seed Oil, a fairly new oil on the Irish food scene. The rest, as they say, is history.
Harnetts Oils are produced in small batches. Homegrown seeds for the Hemp and Rapeseed oils are virgin pressed in a small seed press and bottled by hand. Harnett’s Hemp Oil is a dark green oil, for some an acquired taste, but works very well in dressings and smoothies. This oil is has a unique balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, for heart health, but also credited with helping conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne and other health problems. Harnett’s Rapeseed Oil is rich in Omega 3 and 6 to help lower cholesterol. It’s high smoke point means its great for cooking stir fries. Add it also to marinades and use it for roasting. Harnett’s Rapeseed Oil adds a nutty rounded tastes to any dish.
Also produced are gift packed little tasting bottles and larger bottles of flavoured oils for dressings and marinades. Harnett’s Oils took Best in Farmer’s Market at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle this year.
The Harnett family also produce sea salt under the Duvillaun label. Taken from Dubhoileán, The Black Island, off the coast of County Mayo. ‘Our sea salt comes from sea water hand harvested from around the island, which is known to have some of the cleanest waters in the world and is a protected area. We process the sea water and package the salt in our own plant at our Waringstown Estate. Our sea salt comes from what is probably the cleanest water on the planet.’ Jane says.
ARMAGH CIDER COMPANY
Armagh is known as The Orchard County, famous for its apples. No surprise then, to find the Armagh Cider Company leading the way in craft cider making. At Ballinteggert House, just outside Portadown, the Troughton family are the fourth generation to grow apples. Their orchards have been established here since 1898. Philip and Helen Troughton own the Armagh Cider company. But it was Philip's father who planted the seeds of cider success, with a long held dream to make the cider on the Armagh farm. Philip realised that dream, introducing Carson’s Cider in 2006. The range now includes Madden’s Mellow Cider, Doyles Dry, Medium or Sweet Ciders and Doyles seasonal Summer Fruit , Autumn Berry and Honey ciders.
The Troughton’s also make fresh AJ Apple Juice and Honey Spiced Apple Juice, perfect for this time of year when you can heat it up for a mulled apple juice winter drink. Another convenient winter warmer is Molloy’s Mulled Cider, made with Armagh cider and spices.
GLASTRY FARM ICE CREAM
The Taylor family have been farming on the land at Glastry Farm near Kircubbin, Co. Down since 1856. A pedigree herd of dairy cattle produces all the milk and cream for their award winning ice creams. This production is a real family affair, with the parents at the helm of production, a son looking after the dairy herd and a daughter minding the accounts. That's why the ice-cream has that special “cared for" taste! The Taylor’s are nothing if not creative when it comes to creating great ice creams from their farm milk.
You’ll find White Chocolate and Blackberry, Chocolate and Salted Caramel, Yellow Honeycomb, Strawberry Blonde and Rhubarb and Custard among the choices. Glastry also comes in five litre catering packs for the hospitality industry. If you’re a café or small restaurant who doesn’t have the facility to make your own ice creams for dessert, there is no shame in offering these artisan farm produced ice creams to customers. They couldn’t be better if you made them yourself! Berry Berry Blueberry, Hint of Mint and Lavender Honey are all available in catering sizes.
Robert Ditty is a second-generation baker with years of expertise behind him. Following in the footsteps of his baker father, who opened the original Ditty’s Bakery in Castledawson in 1963, Robert has carried on the family tradition, going on to open a second bakery in Magherafelt. One of Northern Ireland’s most longstanding producers, especially famous for Traditional Oatcakes in natural or smoked flavours. Ditty’s also produces a wealth of baked goods, breads and festive specialities.