Northumbrian fare can take pride of place on Christmas tables this festive season thanks to a new local business.
Northumbrian Pantry, which is based in the small Northumberland village of Simonburn in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall Country, is launching with a bespoke range of artisan jams, jellies and chutneys including several that have been created especially for Christmas.
Alice Murray, who runs the business alongside husband David and trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, explained: “I was born and brought up in a close knit Northumberland community so creating preserves of the highest quality, that are also representative of the region, has always been very important to me.
“To maximise on flavour we carefully select the best ingredients, which are either handpicked seasonally from the orchards and wild hedgerow of the North Tyne Valley, or sourced from trusted local suppliers and markets.”
Alice, who grew up on the neighbouring Nunwick Estate, adds her personal touch throughout the whole cooking process with everything being hand prepared in small batches, using time honoured techniques, with both traditional recipes and Alice’s own creative inventions.
Northumbrian Pantry’s branding exudes colour with different pastel accents having been chosen for each jar label to reflect the varied harvest fruits and other ingredients used, such as plums, pears, apples, damsons, tomatoes, chillies and herbs.
As well as wishing to celebrate the region and support other local businesses in their supply chain, Alice and David, whose varied backgrounds include careers in finance, marketing and photography, are committed to a positive environmental approach to their business practises. They have focussed on limiting the use of plastics and using recyclable materials in their packaging, such as having recycled glass in the jars, wherever possible.
David explained: “Alice and I both lived in Botswana for five years, where we worked in conservation tourism helping protect the wildlife of the Okavango Delta. We learned a huge amount about the world of conservation, so having this at the core of our philosophy is very important to us.”
The initial Northumbrian Pantry range, which will be available to retailers and members of the public to buy online as well as at farmers markets and seasonal fairs around the region, will include Christmas edition jams, jellies, chutneys and relishes, which can be bought individually or in festive sets of three. They’ll also be gluten-free, and most will be suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Eventually, the couple, who are accredited members of Northumberland County Council’s Produced in Northumberland scheme, hope to create a range of themed products that celebrate the Roman heritage of the local area, catering for the extensive tourism market with Hadrian’s Wall only a couple of miles away.
David said: “We have such pride in, and passion for the region and our aim is to become a go-to brand for artisan Northumbrian products and preserves, with people coming to us because of the high quality and abundant flavours of our produce.”
Goods will initially include a Christmas chutney, a spiced apricot and orange chutney, chilli relish, and jams such as blackberry and cassis, damson and mulled wine, and figgy pudding amongst others, all of which are designed to make great gifts and stocking fillers. Plans for many more products are currently being finalised for sale early next year.
Alice added: “We’ve been preparing for the festive season for a long time now so we are eager to give people a taste of what Northumbrian Pantry has to offer at a whole host of Christmas fairs around the region. Our community has been very supportive of our journey so far and it is now very exciting for us to be able to share our vision with them at this time of year.”
You can say hello to Alice and David at the following Christmas fairs: Belsay Christmas Fair November 16th – 17th, Northumberland Christmas Fair November 20th – 21st, Otterburn Church Christmas Fair November 23rd, Wylam Christmas Fair November 30th, Northumberlandia Christmas Market, Cramlington on December 7th and 8th and Ford Christmas Market in Berwick-upon-Tweed on November 24th.