Christmas dinner is one of the most highly-anticipated meals of the year! There is usually a lot of preparation and many mouths to feed.
Here on the Foodful blog, we’ve taken the hard work out of searching and listing some great products and producers which will impress at your Christmas dinner table this year!
From Farm to Fork
Sourcing all your food locally may take a bit of time to make a list and contact farms and businesses, but in the long run, you can beat the queues and enjoy the days before Christmas knowing that your foods can be ready to collect or be delivered and enjoy the quality and taste your local food offers.
Many people love the idea of shopping locally but don’t because of convenience and the lure of offers showcased in supermarkets. We’ve all been there and done it!
This time of year it is the perfect time to think about the community. Remembering that buying locally puts money back into the town. Visiting local places allows you to meet and support your local producers, of which we are lucky to have so many in Northumberland and Scottish Borders.
It is generally acknowledged that buying locally is cheaper and fresher. Buying straight from the source, such as the farm, cuts out the middleman and therefore reduces the cost.
Top 7 Reasons to Source Your Christmas Food Locally
1. Shopping Around
Meet and greet your local producers at events such as farmer’s markets and fairs. Many of the local shops stock great local products and you can always ask the staff any questions you have. Visiting your town centre also has the advantage of some great independent shops which can offer some great seasonal food alternatives.
2. Doorstep Delivery
Not have enough time to visit all the independent stores near you? Luckily, most local producers have the option for you to order online. There are also plenty of vegetable & fruit box schemes around Northumberland and Scottish Borders. You can even get meat delivered or order it to be picked up at a convenient time.
3. Save Money
Independent stores are believed to be more expensive than shopping at large stores. This, in fact, isn’t always the case. By shopping locally, it easier to stick to your list and therefore spending less overall, hopefully leaving you a few pennies to treat yourself.
4. Food Values
What are your food values? Decreasing plastic packaging? Fewer food miles? Know what’s in your food? When buying locally you can ask the producer these questions and actually committing to your beliefs.
5. Feel Good Factor
Feel good knowing you have supported a local business who is competing with consumer giants. The money they make will go back into your community
6. Love Food Hate Waste
Buying local food usually means you have more control over the amount you buy. You can reserve certain meat joints depending on your party size, the number of vegetables and which ones you want. Furthermore, knowing that the food has been grown or reared near you creates a mindset where you try not to waste food.
7. Food Knowledge
Like certain initiatives that have gained momentum over the past decade, such as Farm to Fork, by buying locally you know where your food comes from, how it was produced and where. You can also ask the local producers how best to use their product/s.
Christmas breakfast, or brunch, is just an indulgent meal as the dinner that follows. After all, you need the energy for the rest of the day whatever your plans! Here are our top picks for Christmas breakfast.
Scones are a heavy, carb-loaded breakfast which can easily be adapted to suit a savoury or sweet palate. Either make your scones of buy from Lough’s Home Bakery or from Chirnell’s Farmhouse Kitchen. If you like savoury try sliced apple, cheddar-style cheese like Doddington Farmhouse cheese and chutney from Northumbrian Preserves. For a sweet treat, top your scone with seasonal berries like cranberries and brambles with clotted cream from Stitchill Jerseys.
Smoked Salmon and Kippers
A fancy Christmas brunch has smoked fish at its centre. Top a bagel, English muffin or Rye bread, try Bread & Roses Rye and Caraway Seed bread, with kippers or smoked salmon from L Robson & Sons, most famous for their Craster Kippers, and add poached eggs, hot sauce or simply cream cheese.
Use your local, free-range, organic eggs from Border Eggs and bread from James Ford & Sons to make some delicious French Toast, one of the most popular brunch foods. Serve with bacon and maple syrup or honey from Chain Bridge Honey Farm and berries.
Try making homemade spelt pancakes, using flour from Gilchesters’ Organics. Pancakes can be made to suit any diet, including vegan. Just use alternative milk and egg replacements.
If you’re lucky enough to have fresh coffee from your favourite local coffee roaster in your stocking, try brewing some with spices such as cinnamon and cardamom to create a Christmas blend to perk you up!
The Christmas dinner is the greatest distraction of Christmas Day, especially if you’re not the one cooking it! The dinner allows us to step away from the commercialisation of Christmas, typical of the modern condition. It is a time to talk, share, enjoy the company and be grateful for what we all have.
It might be a gluttonous affair, but Christmas dinner can be a healthy choice. It is the amount we eat, not what we eat that sends us into a food coma and piles on the extra pounds over the festive season; it is estimated that the average Brit puts on 7lbs over Christmas!
Turkey is the most popular choice these days despite many people disliking the bird which is difficult to cook and tends to be ‘dry’. However, the white meat of Turkey could be one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the plate.
Interestingly, turkey is a source of the amino acid tryptophan which is used to create serotonin, which then goes on to form melatonin which promotes deep sleep. To get the effect, the turkey will need to be eaten with carbohydrates such as potato. This could explain why many people fall asleep after Christmas dinner.
Why not try locally-reared turkey from Whitmuir Farm, the organic place, which is about 10 miles from Peebles.
Alternatives to Turkey
Free-range Goose from Alemill Farm, near Eyemouth. Goose is the traditional bird of Christmas during the Victorian era.
Try a shoulder or leg of pork from Greenbrae Farm near Morpeth. Well-known for their traditional values, the meat is ethically produced. You can find Greenbrae at some farmer’s markets, such as Alnwick, or you can buy directly from the farm and organise to pick up your collection on Friday or Saturday morning.
If you fancy a joint of beef for Christmas dinner, it’s best to enjoy some classic Scotch Beef. Why not try beef joint from Hardiesmill. You can find them at Kelso Farmer’s Market every 4th Saturday or call them to reserve an order to make you get it!
Why not try an organic ham for Christmas this year? Peelham Farm’s organic dry-cured gammon is rich in flavour, deep in colour and with a soft creamy fat from its free-ranging Tamworth and Tamworth x Red Duroc pigs. Peelham Farm’s organic gammon is slow grown, slow matured and slow cured and free-from flavour enhancers and colourants.
It wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without a pile of jewel-coloured vegetables! Emerald green sprouts, Imperial topaz carrots, citrine parsnips and amethyst-hued red cabbage.
The vegetables served with Christmas dinner are little nutritional powerhouses so make sure they are at the centre of your Christmas meal.
Source your sprouts from Drysdales, at Cockburnspath. They are the highest yielding sprouts growers in Europe. Due to popular demand, they now provide baby sprouts too which are a sweeter variety.
Other great vegetables you can get locally include carrots, parsnips, swede, turnip, red cabbage and celeriac which are all great additions to Christmas dinner.
Roast potatoes and mash potatoes are always on the Christmas dinner plate. You can source locally grown potatoes from Buston Potatoes. Sacks are available in 12.5kg and 25kg bags so are perfect to share with the family! And at only a fraction of the cost compared to supermarket prices!
Order your trimmings, such as stuffing and pigs in blankets from your local butcher.
Do you enjoy a traditional dessert or prefer a modern alternative?
For a traditional pudding why not buy an Alnwick Rum infused Christmas pudding from Proof of the Pudding. If you’re not into rich fruit puddings, why not try a steamed golden syrup pudding as a sweet end to the meal.
Traditional Scottish sweetbreads and cakes are popular at this time of year to take with tea and would be nice enjoyed for supper if you have room. Why not try Selkirk Bannock by Alex Dalgetty Bakers.
If you haven’t got a sweet tooth, a luxury cheese board accompanied with oatcakes, crackers, chutneys and fruit will be sure to impress. Try cheeses from local producers including Doddington Cheese, Northumberland Cheese Co, Blue House Goats and Stichill Jerseys.
Use a variety of cheese types to complete your board. Our suggestions are:
- Aged: Cheviot by Northumberland Cheese Co
- Soft: Crofters Cheese by Blue House Goats
- Firm: Original by Northumberland Cheese Co
- Blue: Darling Blue by Doddington Cheese
Gin is still a popular drink at the moment. So why not try Sloe Gin? The dark, plummy notes of the drink are warming on a cold winter’s eve. Sloe gin is great to make cocktails with too. Try Sloe Gin from Alnwick Gin or Sloe Crafts. Sloe Crafts also have a Cherry Liqueur Brandy for those of us who feel extra festive!
For other festive alternatives, DeliQuescent has a selection of sophisticated Christmas-inspired flavours; GINgle Bells, Christmas Pudding & Shimmering GINgerbread which are perfect for a party or a gift.
For another festive drink try Lilliard Gin‘s ruby liqueur topped up with prosecco for a party-pleasing beverage.
Your favourite local ales can be found in many places. Have you seen your favourite in your local independent shop? Maybe you’re out celebrating and enjoying beers with friends. If you’re at a micro-pub or tap day at your local brewery, you will have the option to take home some of your favourite ales for Christmas Day or give as gifts.
A traditional drink that’s making leaps and bounds in popularity in the drinks industry. Whether you go for traditional Lindisfarne Mead, we recommend the Dark Mead which includes Chain Bridge Honey Farm honey in the recipe, or modern The Northumberland Honey Co’s sparkling mead selection, mead is worth a try to warm the cockles this winter.
Don’t forget to leave Santa a nip of whisky on Christmas Eve. Why not treat him to local Black Rory by Coquet Whisky, inspired by the history and countryside of Northumberland.
Check last dates for delivery. Christmas Day is on a Tuesday this year so many places will be closed from Friday 21st December. Some local businesses such as butchers will be open shorter hours on Christmas Eve. For home delivery make sure your orders are placed well in advance, giving at least 1-week notice.