When we first started out, our pigs were fed loads of local fresh fruit and veg, including windfall apples and pears, and the name came from there. To this day, many of the smallholders we work with supplement their pigs' diets with fallen/spare fruit, veg and cereals.
No, we are almost alone in making a black pudding with fresh blood. All the national producers we know of use imported dried blood powder harvested from large factory units. To be fair, these larger producers are producing tonnes of black pudding each week. They use powdered blood for convenience, ease of storage and availability. We use fresh blood because that's how a real black pudding is made. As registered slaughtermen, as well as butchers, we have access to fresh blood.
Collecting fresh blood requires lots of permissions, even before you are allowed near the abattoir. Once there, it is a messy, dangerous business; we can also think of better things to do at 5am every Monday morning! No matter what some say, it is NOT illegal to collect animal blood for black pudding if the blood is passed 'fit for human consumption' by the Meat Inspector in the abattoir.
Is there a difference between the two styles of black puddings? In our taste tests, dried blood black puddings can't hold a candle to the richness, texture and general 'unctuousness' of a fresh blood black pudding. However, there are some delicious dried blood varieties out there. But while we're here, and this may look like a rant, we're sick of being told by some we don't make a real black pudding because we're in East Anglia. Too many producers are 'economical' with the truth. Never ask if theirs is made from 'real blood'. They will answer yes....as dried blood powder is real blood of sorts. It's not what you were meaning and they know that. Always ask if it's 'fresh, liquid blood'. If they don't answer immediately you know. Rehydrated haemoglobin in the description is another 'avoidance'.
Black pudding history and regional allegiances aside, if you love your black pudding, and you've eaten all types, including ours, and you still prefer your local blend, brilliant. Black pudding is the new black..it's all good.
Listen to BBC Radio 4, The Food Programme. Tim Hayward talks about blood in food, and comes to visit Fruit Pig.
It's all a matter of personal choice. Rare breeds were not rare years ago. As demand for meat increased after the Second World War, the faster growing, easier processing strains of animals became popular for farmers catering for the baby boomer generation. Most modern commercial breeds tended to put on less fat and grow to cull weight faster than what are now their rare breed counterpart cousins.
No. We only have permission to collect and use the fresh blood ourselves in Fruit Pig products. We cannot give or sell this by-product to any customers. We do make bespoke products though, so if there is a specific recipe you are looking for please contact us.
We know, many are, so were we. Traditionally, adding nitrates and nitrites, in conjunction with salt, is the most common ingredients in curing meat not least because nitrates and nitrites inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Before domestic refrigeration, families would steep their slaughtered winter pig's meat in tubs of salt and a little salt petre (potassium nitrate) so it would not go off and spoil over winter in our temperate, moist UK climate. These nitrates and nitrites also reduced blood oxidation which kept the meat pink and fresh looking. Our raw salt (sodium chloride) may well have a very few parts per million of natural nitrate/nitrite but we can't measure it....in effect it's zero.
Whilst there is no legal definition for free range pork, it is generally accepted by the farming and food industry that free range means pigs spending their entire lives outdoors, with free access to straw filled arcs and tents for shelter. The meat cuts we buy are from our business friends at Taste Tradition, free range farmers and butchers in Yorkshire. Our main product, fresh blood black pudding, is made from free range pork fat and fresh local blood collected by us in our local abattoirs where we work as slaughtermen. We believe that we are the only commercial fresh blood black pudding producers in the UK harvesting in this way. Whilst most of the pigs in one of our abattoirs are free range, some of the smaller farmers and smallholders' pigs are fattened in stalls and barns. We are being honest here. You, the consumer, have the choice. ALL the famous national black pudding producers we know of make their black pudding from imported dried blood powder harvested in huge, indoor pork factory units in Spain, The Netherlands and Denmark. Their pork fat will rarely be British too as wholesale European pork fat is at least half the cost our homegrown stuff. Therefore, we are as free range as we can be considering the limited supply, traditional methods and authentic ingredients we use.
Many are confused about food labelling definitions: out-door reared, free-range, out-door sired! etc. Compassion in World Farming have the best guide to this minefield we have found. Their food guide is an excellent place to start to unravel.
We'd love to but we have so many tasks to do in the early part of the week; it's all pretty hands-on stuff. On Mondays we work in our local abattoirs and pack our wholesale bulk orders after that. We then have to make our sumptous black pudding, cook it and then cool it. Only then can we start completing our orders.