Chefs popularise British produce. Gary Rhodes discovers that hardly any of the cherries we eat are grown in the UK. Yotam Ottolenghi is passionate about nuts.
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We're here to put Britain on the food map.
We're on a mission to save fantastic British produce from our extinction.
But we need your help.
Ingredients that have been here for centuries...
..are in danger of disappearing...
We want to get everyone back to British culinary basics.
And help us revive...
-And quintessentially British food heritage.
My name is Gary Rhodes and I'm here to kick-start the revival
of this wonderful sweet jewel of a fruit, the British cherry.
'Once the bastion of British summertime, with orchards
'stretching over tens of thousands of acres, this gorgeous little fruit
'has fallen foul of housing developers and foreign imports.'
We've lost 90% of our old cherry orchards.
It's a travesty and I want to find out what Earth has been going on.
'As part of my campaign to revive the British cherry, I'll be finding out
'how this innocuous, little plant is helping to revolutionise the industry.'
-That bud, potentially, will grow a tree next year.
'I'll rediscover heritage varieties on the verge of extinction.'
It's rather like an antique. It's very special.
'And, best of all, I'll be sharing my all-time-favourite cherry recipes,
'including a delicious cherry clafoutis.'
Now I know why cherries are my favourite of red fruits.
They're so lively, it's really incredible.
'At home as a child, the first sign of summer was picking cherries from the trees.'
This brings back great old memories. That flavour that has never left me,
I've never forgotten, is suddenly coming back.
'But those orchards are mostly all gone now, bulldozed within an inch of their lives,
'leaving supermarket shelves wide open to imports.'
It really is tragic to think that 90% of all cherries enjoyed in this country
are imported and not taken from these home-grown.
'I'm determined to change things.'
'so I'm starting my revival here on my doorstep in Teynham, Kent -
'the Garden of England and one-time home to the UK's cherry industry.'
It was right here in these streets that the very first cherry orchard
was planted by Henry VIII in 1533.
But, like most of our cherry heritage,
the orchard that stood here for 500 years has been lost.
'All that's left here are reminders of varieties once grown and picked here.'
'A way of life not forgotten by locals like Don Vaughan.'
Hello, Don. 'Who has worked in the cherry industry for 30 years.'
After 500 years of this orchard standing, why did it diminish so quickly?
There are various reasons.
Obviously, the trees were getting older.
They were huge trees, 60ft tall.
They had to be picked by women on tall ladders.
Health and safety would have come into it,
because it was dangerous going up trees
and you couldn't control the verge on the high tree, so you lost crop.
But fortunately, now, acreage is increasing
because of the new systems that are being put in place.
So it's a good news story, but it was pretty dire at one stage.
'So things are on the up, but not as much as I'd like
'and without the space to grow them, or the manpower to pick them,
'our old-fashioned cherry varieties are in danger of disappearing.
It's so nice to be walking through a traditional cherry orchard.
This really does remind me of my childhood.
This really revives all my memories of my youth,
because we were surrounded by orchards similar to this.
With trees of this sort of stature, or larger.
That is huge, isn't it?
-How old is that, 100 years, more?
-100 years or more, yes.
When I was picking these trees as a youngster, with my parents,
we called them "skin-and-stone" varieties.
Because there's a lot of skin, a lot of stone and not a lot of flesh.
But there was a very distinct flavour.
'And it's this true cherry flavour that I want to revive.'
In the imports I've had to purchase over the years,
because there's been no British cherries around, they are shallow.
Often quite watery. I think, "Where is that great, old taste gone?"
That's what I really want to try.
So I'm going to have a pinch off the trees, if that's OK!
'I simply can't resist.'
'It's like being in a sweet shop.'
'Surrounded by all these cherries and I can't wait to get stuck in.'
This really is back to old childhood, coming on,
then just hanging over like this, so you can pinch away at them.
They look lovely. They've got that lovely texture. Wonderful.
They're nature's little health pack. Because they're full of antioxidants,
packed with vitamins C, anti-inflammatory,
they're good for arthritis,
so you can't wish for more in a little package.
They might hold all those values
but I tell you one thing, they hold stacks of flavour.
'It's been a real treat rediscovering the cherries of my childhood.'
'British cherries really are my favourite soft fruits
'and I want you to experience their unforgettable taste, too,
'so next time they're in season, buy British.'
'There really is no better and there's so much you can do with them.'
The first recipe I'm going to cook is a little bit different.
If you've bought so many and you can't eat them all,
this is the perfect dish to try.
It's warm cherry soup.
The first thing you have to do is stone some cherries.
'Take it from me, this sweet and savoury soup is a brilliant talking point
'to kick off any meal.'
'You'll need roughly a kilo of cherries.'
'I'm using Regina,
'a modern British variety with lots of soft, juicy flesh.'
I'm very lucky, because I've got a nice gadget that makes it easy.
Simply popping the cherry on and push away like that
and out comes the stone. Really quite simple.
If you don't have one of these nice, little machines, a knife or do.
It's really very easy. 'And don't throw away the stones.'
'They have a nice almond flavour, a brilliant natural way to flavour the soup.'
All you're going to need is a tablespoon or two.
'Lightly crushed with a rolling pin and tied up in muslin.'
It is delicious. We've got the cherries. Just going to pop those in.
These have been stoned and, notice, I'm not chopping them down any smaller, just leaving them in whole.
'With a glass of red wine and a splash or two of port.'
Not essential, but does add another edge to it.
'Then some water, about 200 mils should do it.'
'A couple of tablespoons of caster sugar
'and my secret ingredient, some cherry jam.'
One of my favourites. Absolutely love it. Of course, what you get from the jam
is the fruit flavour, as well as the extra sweetness.
Next, cinnamon stick, we'll pop that in.
'Along with a sliver of lemon zest to enhance the citrus in the cherries
'and salt and pepper to give the soup its savoury edge.'
And now the last ingredient to be added is the crushed stones.
'For their almond-like taste.'
We can turn this on. Start to heat it up.
'And leave it to simmer until the cherries slightly soften.'
'Then, ten minutes later, take it off the heat,
'ready to blitz, minus the pips, cinnamon and zest.'
Right, let's see if this is going to be cool enough. I think it is.
If you can touch the sides of the pans, it will be ready.
'The last thing you want to do is liquidise when it's too hot, and here's another tip for you.'
Don't put too much in at once.
You've got that huge risk of it bursting out of the top,
something we don't want.
'I always put a tea towel on top, too, as an extra precaution.'
'Strain it to get rid of any unwanted lumps.'
'It may seem like a stage too far, but, trust me, it's worth it.'
Look at that. You can see that kind of texture.
It's thick. It smells absolutely delicious.
'And looks stunning, too. Served in a quirky cup and saucer,
'a great starter at any dinner party.'
Look at the consistency. You can see, the way it drops out.
There we are, plenty. 'And you can't have soup without bread.'
'I'm serving walnut toast to complement the almond flavour released by the stones.'
Just pop a couple of those on the side.
'Finish it off with a dollop of sour cream to balance out the sweetness.'
It really does complement the soup.
'Now who wouldn't want to dive into that?'
So let's just dunk in a piece of this walnut bread.
Into the soup.
Capturing a little touch of that sour cream, as well.
Do you know...
..now I know why cherries are my favourite of red fruits.
They also lively, it's really quite incredible.
So much flavour and, of course, when you've got that little sourness behind it,
that's added from the cream,
it really does give it a totally different personality.
I absolutely adore it.
It's so simple to make. It's so delicious to eat.
'I want to help revive the good old British cherry,
'an ingredient in decline, largely due to the height of the trees.'
'I'm en route to Worcestershire to meet a grower who's pioneered a revolutionary growing technique
'that's helping to bring the British cherry back from the brink.'
15 years ago, the British cherry industry had been brought to its knees.
It needed a saviour and this is it, Gisela 5.
With a name from science fiction, this innocuous plant had quite some task.
That was to revolutionise the production of British cherries.
'And it's done so by dwarfing the modern cherry tree,
'allowing British growers to overcome the problems of the past.'
-Good to see you.
-Thank you for coming.
-What a view. Really quite incredible.
How many acres does this cover?
We've got about 400 acres here. It's prime nursery land.
And we grow about half a million trees year.
So it is from here that the rebirth of the cherry began?
Yes, indeed. What we needed was a small, productive tree that would produce
heavy yield and good quality fruit. So we all took a risk.
The nurseries, the fruit growers, the whole industry
put trees out on trial and it had to prove itself.
And that's what it did in the late '90s and beginning of the century.
'And it's been a big success, creating small trees that can be easily harvested,
'allowing British cherry growers to compete with foreign imports.'
How are these plans put together? What exactly do you've to do?
The fruit trees are made up of two parts.
The rootstock and then the variety and we put the two together.
It's as simple as that.
Is it really as simple as that?
Well, it takes a certain amount of skill and time.
Are you going to show me how that's done?
That's what we'll show you now.
Let's take a look.
'First, cuttings are taken from commercially viable cherry trees,
modern varieties that produce the biggest, juiciest,
sweetest fruit possible to appeal to the mass market.'
So this is the mother orchard?
It is, yes.
Underneath each leaf stalk you'll see there's a bud.
That bud will potentially grow a tree next year.
'It's inspirational stuff, a kind of Frankenstein technique that sees
cutting from the mother Orchard tree, grafted onto the Gisela five root.'
So basically they've been cut exactly the same size
because we're simply going to gel the two together like that. Is that right?
That's right. It's just a quick dip up and down.
So this will keep them alive together with the wax covering it?
Yes, that's right.
That tree will then grow from this bud from the top and produce a tree.
'A tree that will be nurtured here for two years
and never get taller than ten feet and allowing British cherry growers
to supply our supermarkets with plenty of home-grown fruit.'
That's where the bud was put on a year ago.
And the graft grew out of the rootstock
and it's dug up this summer.
It's phenomenal isn't it?
So how much do you think the Gisela five has changed the British market
as far as cherry production is concerned?
It's made it successful, profitable and with a long-term future.
That's nice to hear.
From seeing all of this, the next thing I want to see
is the production of the cherry itself.
So I think I'm going to have to make that little visit to
the county next door in Herefordshire.
'Where commercial cherry grower, Simon Wells, is using mixed trees
'to produce award-winning cherries for two major supermarkets.'
'Cherries that are far bigger and juicier than the heritage varieties
'I remember picking as a lad.'
This is something I've been so looking forward to.
And automatically I am quite shocked at the size of some of these cherries.
What variety is this?
These are Regina.
< Amazing! And how many varieties do you grow here?
We've about 20 varieties, it spreads the season for us.
We start off with Sunburst, a lovely juicy, traditional variety.
Then move to summer sun, Stella and then we're moving into the later
cherries, Regina, Cordia, some of the best cherries in the world.
Are they all grown from the Gisela five root?
Yes, it's Gisela five rootstock that's given us the confidence to plant cherries
and carry on with a cherry business in the UK.
What about a demand from all of the big superstores and so forth?
< The growth of rain covers has given the confidence
for the supermarkets to realise when we tell them the year before
we'll have a tonnage of cherries and we'll deliver a tonnage of cherries.
< And that's what the old traditional varieties couldn't do.
What's the future of the British cherry? Where do you see it heading?
We're getting into niche cherries, larger sizes,
different flavours, different eating experience.
Some people like sharper, some juicier, some like it sweeter.
I can still see a growth in British cherries.
People love cherries.
You're proud to actually grow them,
I want now the British public to be proud of actually purchasing them.
But there's still such a long way to go for us
to compete with the imports and all of those competitors out there.
We need to show them what a true cherry tastes like.
Yeah, a juicy, eating experience rather than your imported,
crunchy out of season product.
You've said it in one sentence.
'So the British cherry industry is starting to make a comeback.
'Albeit with new modern varieties and I am dying to try them.'
It's time to pick some cherries.
'It's been a real inspiration meeting the people behind these new
techniques, and tracing the modern British cherry from room to plate.'
And this is what we have in return...
Look at the shine on those, they're phenomenal.
And the beauty of it is, it's going to work with just about any
ingredient, savoury or sweet.
It's so versatile, I can't wait to cook with it.
'And cherries freeze brilliantly,
so you can stock up when they're in season
and eat them all year round in recipes like this one.'
For our main course to go with our cherries we're going to have roast duck.
Roast duck and cherries is quite a classic,
and of course there was always the duck and orange.
Here I'm going to use a little touch of the orange
in with this dish, it really is sensational to eat.
And this is called roast duck breast with a cherry compote dressing.
'First things first,
score your duck breast and get them on to cook.'
I'm actually going to pop these in when the pan is still cold.
So the reason for that is as it heats up in the pan,
it helps release those excess fats we don't want.
Rather than sealing the fat instantly if the pan is too hot.
'Leaving you with nice crispy pieces of duck.'
The next thing is the cherry compote dressing.
'And for this I'm using Simon's fantastic Regina cherries, stoned and halved.'
If you leave them whole,
they tend to burst and break down into little pieces.
That's why it's best to halve them.
Now here, I've got just some red onion that's been simmering
in a little knob of butter.
'And the juice of one orange'.
You can see it's really reduced down now, so in with the cherries.
'And you don't have to use fresh, as long as they're British, of course!'
Using frozen cherries for this will work equally well.
Right, next thing let's have a look at the duck.
You can see now the kind of colour we're getting
and starting to achieve that little crisp on the outside.
'They're ready to turn'.
'Now my secret ingredient'.
'I'm going to flambe the cherries and a little bit of Kirsch.'
'Cherry flavoured liqueur, to give that extra kick.'
A little touch and there we have it,
that's all we're going to need.
'And last, two ingredients that complement cherries brilliantly.
A large glass of red wine and more cherry jam.'
So let's just let that reduce down until we've a good, syrup, dressing consistency.
'It won't take long and while you wait,
'you can get the duck out to rest and start plating up.'
Right, first thing, is of course cutting the duck.
'You could serve it whole, but I like to cut it lengthways,
'then across into chunks.'
Let's take a look at the cherries.
Now these have really softened wonderfully.
Right, let's start to create.
We can dot some nice little chunks of our duck
keeping it really quite rustic,
pop a few cherries just around the dish.
'Gently spoon on the warm cherry dressing, serve with sauteed
'turnips for texture and crunch and seasonal chanterelle mushrooms.'
'Some baby spinach leaves and top it up with an orange and herb butter.'
There we've roast duck breast with a cherry compote dressing.
The flavour of that fruit is quite sensational.
They really are that good and so versatile.
The taste of the cherry amongst all the flavours,
it still comes through the number one.
That's how good they are.
'It's been a huge relief to discover that our British
'cherry growers are fighting back.
'But there's another problem, they're not growing our heritage varieties.'
'Cherries like the ones clinging on in an old orchard in Linstead.'
I'm now back in Kent in this fantastic cherry orchard
and I'm here to discover these...
Our British heritage cherries.
'14 varieties are being preserved here at Park farm.'
'It's a traditional orchard that's been brought back from the brink
'by local residents who hold all sorts of events here throughout the year.'
So, what do you think would have happened to this orchard
if the local community didn't support it?
It would have been one of those orchards which would have
sat along the road with all these cherries in it.
And sadly, people not really being able to appreciate it
and learn about and enjoy them.
'Thanks to their efforts,
'heritage cherries should blossom here for generations to come.'
How would you describe the heritage as far as the cherry is concerned?
Heritage Cherry is one of these large trees.
An original tree which was grown 60, 70 years ago,
and going back 400 years.
But it's rather like an antique, it's very special.
So it's the true original?
It's the true original, absolutely, yes.
Lots of little tales behind them.
The variety Waterloo, that's a classic cherry.
That was bred by Mr Knight in Herefordshire.
And when it first started fruiting, that was literally just after
the Battle of Waterloo, so he named it Waterloo.
What a classic.
And that also dates it.
That's the great thing, not only do they have texture, flavour
and a bit of character, they've great names and titles to go with it.
And interestingly, every single bite from every variety is going to give you something different.
So we have passionate people helping our few surviving cherry orchards,
and now our commercial growers have a tree they can rely on,
hopefully it won't be too long before they start experimenting with old varieties.
So surely there IS a future for the British cherry.
There's even an annual cherry competition in Maidstone,
where the mainstays of the industry gather to award the best of the best.
When I'm looking at the taste of a cherry,
I'm looking firstly for proper cherry flavour,
that really clear cherry taste. Secondly, sweetness and succulence,
but thirdly, a bit of body and crunch to the fruit as well.
That's what I'm looking for, flavour and texture and a bit of sweetness.
And one grower eager to find out how his modern varieties have done this year is Simon Wells.
I got up at three this morning having got to bed at ten last night polishing them,
to leave Herefordshire and deliver them for eight this morning,
I'm very keen to see how I've done!
He's up for Best In Show, a category he won last year.
Here we are, we've done it again. Beautiful, superb!
It's great to see our growers rewarded for their efforts,
and you can support them too by buying British cherries,
and showing them off in recipes like this one.
It's a pudding which holds a very special place in my heart.
This dessert I'm going to cook for you is really quite romantic.
If you want to impress your partner, this is the one to make.
It's called a cherry clafoutis.
It's an incredibly simple dish
that I've been making since my student days.
It starts with a couple of egg yolks, whisked together with sugar.
I always remember making this for my wife when we first met.
Two young chefs together, and she loved it.
We still cook it quite a lot today,
particularly during the cherry season.
It's become a real family favourite.
Right, next, I'm going to add some flour.
'About 40 grams should do it. Plain, not self-raising.'
And it's best always just to pop it through that sieve,
because then it's going to mix in an awful lot easier
into the egg mix, and you will notice how quick and easy this is,
and that's the beauty of it.
You can see, by using that sieve,
how quickly that flour has become smooth throughout this batter.
'All it needs now is some milk and cream.'
Equal quantities, just pop it in together.
'And that's it. Told you it was simple!'
It's always a good idea whenever you're making a batter to allow it to rest for a few minutes.
Maybe up to 10 minutes will be more than enough.
'Then you can get it into its dish.'
You'll notice I've lightly buttered it and sprinkled in a little caster sugar.
'This will stop it sticking.'
Right, cherries. These are stoned,
but in France when they first started making this,
they used to leave the stones in.
But I feel, when you're cooking for the whole family,
you've got to be a bit careful for the children, so I always take them out.
Right now, in with the batter. We can just gently pour this in.
Look at that. Just leaving the tops of those cherries exposed.
'All you need to do now is get it into a hot oven.'
Here we go, let's pop that in.
'Put you feet up with a coffee or two, and 20 minutes later,
'you'll have a dessert to die for.'
Right, it's now ready.
Ready to take out and show you exactly how a clafoutis should look.
Delicious. It's time to eat.
Do you know, I'm so looking forward to tucking into this cherry clafoutis,
this wonderful pudding which has got that really lovely, sweet texture.
Look at that.
You can see that pudding, it really is quite sensational.
'For even more of a treat, serve with a dollop of vanilla cream.'
Just that, plonked on top as it starts to melt.
Mm, what flavours.
You know, it's almost like eating a warm custard pudding without the pastry.
And you can imagine, with the richness of the fruit,
that wonderful cherry, it's outstanding.
So apart from buying and cooking British cherries
when they're in season, what can you do to help?
Well, you could buy a Heritage tree and grow it at home.
There are plenty of varieties to choose from online
or at specialist nurseries, like this one.
Cherry tree-wise, we probably sell about 500-600 a year,
just seven varieties, five of which are English varieties.
Morello, which is a lovely cooker,
May Duke, which is a fantastic cherry,
Merton Premier, Napoleon, which is my personal favourite,
and Early Rivers.
And you can do it right now, even if you don't have a lot of space.
Nowadays, with container growing, you can plant right through the year,
so it is as easy as being able to plant whether it be in the middle of winter,
or planting right through the summer months.
And here's a tip for free.
To keep the birds away, my favourite one is,
all those annoying CDs you get in the magazines and things like that -
hang them on the trees.
Birds hate CDs flashing around on the tree.
That's probably my favourite way of keeping the birds away from my cherries.
If you really haven't got the space at home,
branch out and grow them in your local community.
I'm Ruth Burns, the parent governor at the primary school
and I'm responsible for our school garden, which we got a grant for.
This is the Napoleon Cherry tree.
We chose this one because it has red and yellow cherries and it's also a local Kent cherry.
This is a rural school, it's important that the children are in touch with their environment,
growing things, knowing where all sorts of fruit comes from.
And cherries are just beautiful trees - beautiful blossom, lovely fruit, what's not to like?
I couldn't have put it better myself!
This has been a wonderful, uplifting experience for me.
I've really come to understand the complex issues in producing this gorgeous fruit.
And whilst it's tragic we've lost so many of our beautiful cherry orchards,
some are fighting on, and desperately need your support.
So please, when they're in season,
revel in that taste of summer all over again
and fall back in love with the cherry.
Now here's another foodie who wants to wet your appetite
with the amazing possibilities of another underrated Great British food.
My name is Yotam Ottolenghi and I'm a chef and a food writer.
I'm originally from Israel, but I love cooking with local, British produce.
But there is one local ingredient that we seem to be forgetting.
One variety has been here since the Ice Age, and is mostly produced here.
The other was brought here by the Romans, but we import nearly 100% of them.
I'm talking about these. British nuts.
People seem to have completely forgotten about them.
A whole slice of British heritage could be lost for ever
if we don't act now.
In my attempt to put this British produce firmly back on the food map,
we'll be meeting people who are nutty about nuts.
Nuttery sounds like a fantastic fairytale land!
I'll be introducing you to the amazing history of British cob nuts.
-The first time it's been tasted for a long time.
And I'll be opening my book on the dishes that make the most
of these exquisite little British delights.
It's a real revelation for me, it's just wonderful.
Take it from me.
Nuts are a secret weapon in the five London restaurants I run.
I can't think of a day when they haven't been an ingredient.
They enhance flavours and texture, from salads to cakes.
A world without nuts is a world without flavour.
But do we even know where they come from?
I think nuts are grown in, um...
A warm climate?
-Not in England?
It's true that nuts normally grow in warmer climates,
but cob nuts and walnuts do grow perfectly well in this country.
And they're nice when they're fresh, there's nothing like a fresh nut,
it doesn't have the dustiness of the imported varieties.
When I was growing up, my friend and I used to climb the neighbour's tree and get fresh walnuts off the tree.
Our hands used to turn completely brown, it was quite awful,
but there's nothing like a fresh walnut when it comes off the tree and it's in season.
However, Britain has quietly forgotten the taste
for its native nuts, and I want to help you rediscover their flavour.
So I'm taking a road trip around southern England to uncover
an overlooked heritage,
starting with British walnuts.
Alan has been growing them for over 30 years,
but just how long have they been in Britain?
Supposedly the Romans brought them, there does appear to be
evidence of this from shells having been found in excavations, etc.
They probably came from Persia, or that direction.
Then nothing much is known about them until the 16th, 17th century,
when most farmsteads had walnuts,
and of course, the big houses had them as well.
But they were never grown commercially.
But if you thought the only way to eat a walnut was the dry, husky thing you get in a red mesh bag
in a supermarket at Christmas, think again.
Tell me a little bit about the flavour of the walnuts.
There is basically three stages of picking them,
you can pick them green, and use them for pickling, and the next stage?
The next one would be wet walnuts, when they're ripe but not dried.
-And the wet walnut is sweet and juicy and fruity?
I remember eating those when I was growing up, you pick it off the tree.
-It's so delicious.
-You've got to peel the skin off.
It's like a party in the mouth, it's wonderful.
Tell me about the next stage, when they are completely dry?
Yes, it's difficult to describe, really. It's a nice, nutty flavour!
And it is quite complex compared to other nuts, I find.
-There's a lot going on with those nuts.
Now, it seems like most of the nuts that we consume in this country come from abroad.
Yes. California, mainly.
So there seems to be a commercial market,
but is there a future for growing nuts here?
I think so, now it's warming up a bit here, definitely there will be.
So there used to be lots of wonderful walnut trees around,
but they were never commercially grown. But according to Alan, they could be, and guess what?
There is demand for them,
especially in the form of a peculiarly British product.
Pickled walnuts were a totally new British delicacy to me
when I moved over from Israel. I had never seen them before.
Created in the 1800s, they were so popular,
even Victorian domestic goddess Mrs Beeton was telling her readers
how to preserve their home-grown walnuts.
I've come to see a family company that has been getting into a real pickle with walnuts.
Pickled walnuts, that's a real British eccentricity. Where does it start?
It's mentioned in the Pickwick papers.
And it was essentially a Victorian product,
the Victorians used to do home pickling,
they harvested the walnuts in June and July, they put them in jars,
and were used at Christmas.
They're generally used on Boxing Day with the cold turkey
and other salad products, but we do have a market for the rest of the year,
and all supermarkets will have them throughout the year.
I think it's fascinating. I know a lot about pickling cucumbers,
I know about pickling other vegetables.
Cauliflower, turnip, beetroot. How do you pickle walnuts?
We take them and trim them, where we looks shells or any defects.
We steam them. We put them in tanks, to reduce the salt level.
We pack them into jars and then vinegar is applied
and then they're capped and pasteurised and labelled.
And it's the most wonderful condiment, because they're sharp and nutty.
So I can see it with something very fatty, like a blue cheese.
-And pickled walnuts. I can see how the sharpness cuts into that.
-Would you take one and pop it into your mouth?
-You can do, if they're small enough.
But it's probably best to cut it into four.
Where do your walnuts come from?
Most of them come from France and some from Italy,
but there is some UK production now.
Obviously, if we can improve the UK production, that's good.
This is fascinating.
I just walked out of a factory that produces a product that is essentially British.
It's pickled walnuts, it can't get any more British than that.
But, unfortunately, only a minority of the walnuts used in this factory are locally grown.
We're in the heart of Kent.
An ideal climate for nuts in general, and walnuts,
and most of them actually come from France.
It's a real shame.
'One way you can help revive British walnuts is by eating more of them
'and not just in Waldorf salads, brownies and cakes.
'So in the Revival kitchen, I'm going to make a dish that makes the most of fresh and pickled walnuts.'
I love pickled walnuts. I have a little fetish to confess to.
I always have a little jar in my fridge that I keep for a rainy day.
And they make a very good salsa.
They'd showcase fantastically in a dish of roasted aubergines and walnut salsa I'm going to make.
I'm going to start by peeling the aubergine, but not completely peeling it.
I'm going to give it a little zebra stripe.
It looks really good and it means that when you have it, you also have much less of the flesh.
'Score into the aubergine almost all the way down in a diamond pattern.
'Brush on lots of olive oil, really let loads soak in.
'This will help it to cook.
'Salt and pepper, and then into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
'And now for some walnut salsa.'
My favourite ingredient, those pickled walnuts,
and what that does is allow us to enjoy the two states of the walnut.
One is fresh, sweet, slightly crunchy,
and the pickled walnut is acidic, very sharp, but it has the sweet aroma of pickling spices,
and that together creates a perfect balance for the salsa.
I'm going to throw in garlic. A little bit of chilli.
And I'm just going to literally break this walnut in.
And then one of those pickled walnuts.
The flavour is fantastic.
It's gorgeous. You don't need a lot of it. It's very strong in flavour.
'Splash in some of the pickling juices, a little walnut oil,
'some cider vinegar and stir in chopped coriander and parsley.'
'Take your aubergine out of the oven and spoon the salsa all over the flesh
'and leave it a little bit for the juices to soak in.'
'Then scatter over some gem-like pomegranate seeds
'and sprinkle over some crumbled mature goat's cheese.'
You could sprinkle a little bit more herbs on top.
I think it looks great and I'm going to test it now.
I think it's fantastic and refreshing to see that I can use two very British ingredients,
walnut and pickled walnuts, in such a very Mediterranean dish
and it still jumps and explodes and it's wonderful in the mouth.
So we've already learned that there is a wonderful tradition
of walnut trees growing wild all over the British countryside
but it was never an industry. Conversely, there's now a commercial demand for locally-produced nuts
but it's not being met, and if eating British walnuts is to be revived
I think we need an industry.
So I've come to Somerset to meet Roger Saul,
who's taking on the challenge.
He found evidence of walnut orchards by his house
which was once part of Glastonbury Abbey.
Roger spotted a real business opportunity.
If I look at these maps here that I bought out, here's a map
of the estate going back to about 1500.
So here's the house, the walnuts and the orchard would have been around here,
and then you can see on the next map, which is much later,
round about 1850, here you can see the same house...
-That would relate to round there, and here's...
-All the trees.
Orchard, yeah. And effectively, the abbots would have had
everything like this in close-quarters,
so they'd have had their fish ponds here,
their mixed orchards, so we don't know how much was nut,
how much was plum, apple, pear and so on.
Roger's even pinpointed a tree which he reckons descends from the 16th century orchard.
All this has inspired his business plan.
He's trying to resurrect those ancient orchards, with 300 walnut trees.
So these trees, I planted them more mature, so these were probably
already sort of, that stem, trunk, so what's called a standard ten,
this would now be more like a 20, so it's really growing strongly.
Mind your head because we might get a walnut.
Yeah, we got two.
So that's reduced my crop by two walnuts now.
-What varieties do you grow here?
-Well, because we went to France
and looked at bringing in trees of volume,
we couldn't find English trees the scale we needed,
so although we set out to do English walnuts,
we actually found that the French walnut type is this oval shape -
once you get this husk off it cracks very easily.
It's got a thinner skin, it's got a bigger nut
and it's a much more commercial proposition.
But the squirrels will regularly take walnuts off our old trees
and plant them, so we'll find them all over the garden.
So we dig those up and we've been planting, regularly, English walnuts.
We'll keep bringing on the English walnut,
and we may find with time that those trees have a better life here.
While Roger patiently waits for his orchards to bear enough fruit
to sell commercially, he's using his walnuts in salads,
pasta sauces and just as snacks, and they taste good.
'With his revived British orchard he plans to take on the dominance
'of the Chinese and Californian imports.'
What is the difference between your locally-grown walnut and the ones that are imported
in terms of the flavour or eating quality?
That taste we got with the Chinese is almost like a certain, almost like a bit of a desiccation to it,
whereas if you tasted OUR walnuts -
we've got last year's here, a year old, they were really rich and oily.
So what we see here, really, is that you actually created something,
so there is a future for the walnut industry as such here where we are in Somerset.
I mean, there's a future, I'd say, anywhere in south Britain.
You want that warmer climate of south Britain rather than the north,
but if somebody's got enough foresight,
-and perhaps thinking of their children more than...
..then you could plant hundreds of acres of walnuts
and you'd have... Why can the Chinese do thousands of tonnes, and the Americans?
There's no reason why we can't do it.
We all know now that certain products taste so much better
when they're fresh and they're local.
If you think about a strawberry when you go to a supermarket
and you buy a pack that's just been local and freshly picked,
you taste them, you smell them and they've got a perfume, an aroma
and a succulence that strawberries that are imported just don't have.
Compare that to walnuts that have been grown here that are sweet and succulent and milky,
they're just not the same as the ones that have been grown in China and brought here.
Those tend to be a little bit chalky, desiccated,
and they just don't have the same sort of effect. It's just a completely different story.
To encourage you to get cooking with walnuts,
I'm going to make you another delicious dish and if you find local British walnuts
like Roger's, it will be even better.
My next dish is going to use his actual walnuts.
It's a miso chicken with grapes and walnuts.
These chicken thighs have been marinating with ginger,
some cider vinegar, miso, which is fermented bean paste,
and mirin, which is a Japanese sweet wine
that helps to tenderise the meat.
You can get a small bottle of mirin in most supermarkets.
Place them all on a baking tray, pour the gingery marinade over
and pop under the grill for about 15 minutes.
Take some shallots, blanch them for five minutes,
then heat some oil in a pan and colour them for a couple of minutes.
The miso and the nuts are two very savoury flavours
and they work together, they almost rhyme.
It's something that you never quite know,
but in the end, it works perfectly well.
Add some cider vinegar to the pan and reduce.
I want to lose the acidity but keep the sharpness.
Then white wine and a bit of water, some salt and white pepper
and bubble away to reduce.
And now I'm going to lose some of the alcohol
and let these beautiful flavours soak in to the shallots.
These shallots in the final dish, they are bursting with flavour because they had vinegar,
they had wine later, they're well-seasoned,
they're really, really essential for carrying off all the flavours.
The chicken just gets a beautiful caramelised colour on top
from all the sugar in the mirin.
Add the chicken and juices to the miso and mirin and simmer.
Last time I actually tasted walnuts off a tree was in Ladakh
in northern India, where I was travelling about three years ago.
And I can't forget the sensation of picking a walnut off a tree,
picking off the green, rotting shell and just cracking it.
It doesn't take a lot to crack it because the shell is very soft.
And what you get is something really heavenly.
It's a fresh walnut - green, almost milky in flavour.
You put it in and it just melts in the mouth.
It's so sweet, it's like a candy.
Nothing compares to this experience of having a walnut off a tree.
After 15 minutes, the chicken should be cooked,
so remove them but keep them warm.
Next add your walnuts, grapes and some mellow maple syrupy sweetness.
As the grapey, nutty flavour starts mixing with the miso and mirin,
add some butter to thicken the sauce.
This is the real beauty of this dish.
These walnuts are local walnuts.
They are fresh,
they've got all this beautiful sweetness that you don't get
from a walnut that's travelled half the world to get here.
And the sauce thickens really well.
What it does is, the grapes are warming up,
giving a little bit of their sweetness and acidity.
And the walnuts are softening a little bit.
They're not going to be completely soft,
so there's going to be a crunch, but a very mellow one.
Add in any juices from the chicken to the sauce and then put it all on a plate.
Then I'm just going to finish this off with a little bit of tarragon
and some lovely, fresh pea shoots.
Don't let the tarragon overpower the dish.
Just a little sprinkling is enough.
And it works fantastically well.
You've got the sweet grapes, the earthiness of the walnuts
and everything with the miso and mirin
just comes together in an unusual way. When I think about it,
it's a real fusion dish because the walnuts are local
and the mirin and miso are from the other side of the Earth
and they just work lovely together, it's a real revelation to me.
It's just wonderful.
My revival campaign is two-pronged.
As well as walnuts,
I want you to welcome back the crunchy cob nut,
which has a completely different story, but what exactly is a cob nut?
Well, the Kentish cob nut is a British variety of hazelnut.
It can also refer to any fresh, green, British hazelnut still in its husky coat.
It's a shame that cob nuts aren't as popular today as they used to be.
Just before the First World War there were 7,000 acres of cob nuts
grown in this country, and today we're left with 250.
My worry is that we could go from 250 acres to zero
if we don't support these native nuts.
I'm in Kent to meet one of the biggest cob nut growers
who supplies some of the UK's largest supermarket chains.
-I guess they were very popular in Victorian times, right?
-That was the heyday.
Up till then people gathered wild hazelnuts
and the Victorian gardeners started developing other hazelnuts,
trying to get them bigger and better,
-which they managed to do.
-Some of them are massive.
-Nothing like those in hedgerows.
-Traditionally they're eaten green, right?
It's divided into two.
We pick them early because some people like them when they're soft and milky and white,
other people like them when they're mature and brown.
Like the normal hazelnut.
Like the normal hazelnut you buy in the shops, yes.
-All these around us are cob nuts?
-These are Kent cob nuts.
-And they're still...
-They're still quite green.
What would happen if we crack one of those now? What do we get?
You'll get a fairly white kernel because it's not brown yet.
-They're beautiful looking.
-They're very pretty.
The husk around it's just so pretty.
There you have the white kernel which is just right. Try that one.
-Moist and fresh and a little sweet.
You can taste there's a lot of fat in it because it's very rich.
There's a lot of protein in it as well and vitamins.
The Victorians started the process of finding the best variety
for the market, and John is carrying it on.
He's planted a trial plot with 48 varieties of cob nut
with older and newer varieties to find the best commercial nut.
It's so exciting, you've got so many different types of nuts here. You can go crazy.
-Tell me about this one, John.
-This is a Victorian nut.
Probably bred about 1850, 1860.
It's named after Sir Humphrey Davy and is called Davinia.
The growth is quite erect, strong and vigorous,
so it's one we'd have to look at again to make sure it was worth growing commercially.
Taste is the most important thing to John,
but commercially he also has to look at the yield of each variety.
Here's an exciting variety called prolific closehead.
The trees they're small, compact and carry a very heavy crop of nuts.
This tree is tiny and it's got hundreds of nuts.
And a reasonable size as well.
-It's the first time it's been tasted for a long time.
-Really? I'm very fortunate.
-Gorgeous. It's nuttier.
It's even sweeter than the other one we had before.
And it's just so, so lovely. It's a beautiful nut.
It's such fresh food, isn't it? I really can't put this over enough
that it's unprocessed, a natural food.
It's hard to explain,
you've got this little thing here, it looks very unassuming.
It's just a tree.
But the flavour that comes out, it just bursts in the mouth.
It's just fantastic. It's beautiful.
It's wonderful to see a grower like John so passionate about his cob nuts.
He plays with varieties, he grows his trees, pushes it into supermarkets.
I urge you to try cob nuts. They're really, really fantastic.
Or even better, grow your own tree.
And if I still haven't persuaded you to think about trying cob nuts,
maybe my final delicious recipe in the revival kitchen will.
Not many people know that you can actually cook with cob nuts
in their dried state.
I'm going to show you a wonderful recipe.
Fruit and cob nut crumble cream.
Start with a simple crumble.
I like a combination of plain flour and wholemeal flour,
sugar and butter, mixed together with your fingertips.
And this is really a bit fancier than your average crumble because
it has layers of cream, caramelised nuts, crumble and fresh fruits.
So, the crumble itself is a little bit like the sponge in a trifle.
It soaks the flavour and gives it a little bit of texture.
Really, really beautiful. It's probably one of my favourite desserts.
Spread the crumble mix evenly over a roasting tray
and put into the oven at 180 degrees.
Now for the cob nuts, which I'm going to caramelise.
Put your shelled nuts in a non-stick pan.
Add some caster sugar and put over the heat.
I like to keep stirring to ensure all the nuts are evenly coated.
It will take about five or six minutes.
It's very good with this to use a non-stick pan rather than
anything else, because you're almost guaranteed that you can get
the sugar out quite easily.
It's just, at one point, a certain minute
when you see that your sugar starts to melt,
then you're sort of reassured that you're on the right track,
it actually is happening.
I think I've just sort of reached that point where the sugar starts
to stick to the bottom and melt.
Once they're all coated brown and sticky, pour them
onto a non-stick tray or some grease-proof paper
and let your little sweet, caramelised cob nuts cool.
The third element is the fruit element.
I've got here apples, pears, some lemon juice and some sugar
and that's been roasted until the fruit has just sort of collapsed and mushed up.
You could add other fruit. I love blackberries when in season.
Especially as they add a lovely tint to the pale apples,
and don't forget to take out the crumble.
You want it nicely browned.
Lastly, a fragrant, creamy mix to dollop all over your fruit and nuts.
Mix together double cream for smoothness, mascarpone for richness,
then Greek yoghurt for acidity along with a spoonful of sugar.
Crush some star anise and cardamom
and splash in some vanilla essence onto your mix.
And now, whip.
You're getting a taste of the Orient here.
The star anise and the cardamom are real sort of significant flavours of the Middle East,
and what I'm doing here is injecting something which is from a different world
into this beautiful cob nut and apple dish, which is Britain and the Middle East almost put together.
Time to assemble. First, your cooled crumble.
Then crush some caramelised nuts...
Then layer on some fruit, the juices will soak into the crumble.
I hope you can see how wonderful this all is.
Dollop on some spiced cream.
I can smell the cardamom and I can smell the star anise.
It's just something that sort of evokes so many emotions,
it's like being in a souk or in the square in Marrakesh.
You know, all the cardamom and the star anise,
all these fantastic flavours, they come out here. Then repeat.
Remember, this is a high rise dessert, not a bungalow.
Tower on as much of each indulgent layer as you can manage.
The icing on the cream is these wonderful cob nuts.
Once they've cooked and roasted in the pan with all the caramel,
they're really, really crunchy, and that's what you want from a nut at that stage.
You can hear it as I cut.
So, that's a really king-sized dessert and it's suitable for kings.
This is incredible. This is probably the best thing you can eat.
I mean, the cob nuts on top with the caramel, the cream, the apples,
it's just, it's an explosion but it's a bonfire in the mouth.
If British nuts are to be revived, we all need to play our part.
Not having a garden is no excuse. Take these residents of Bath.
They are in a community scheme and have been lent
a piece of land by the National Trust to grow a nut orchard.
They've planted lots of trees including walnuts, almonds, chestnuts and cob nuts.
I just think it's a fantastic community project.
I mean, I'm very keen on growing vegetables
but I don't have a particularly big garden.
And "nuttery" sounds like a fantastically fairytale little land, "nuttery"!
For this group, it's not just about reviving a tradition.
Heritage-wise it's just doing something that we've always done.
It's extremely easy to grow nuts in this country. Anyone can do it.
You can have one or two hazelnuts in your garden.
And that'll give you several pounds of nuts. Enough for Christmas celebrations.
So it's up to us to protect and revive our British nuts.
You know what, if there is something I learned along my journey
over the last few days,
it is how beautiful local British nuts can taste when they're really young,
when they're still green, succulent and really fresh.
They don't compare at all to old mature nuts.
There is something really fruity and creamy about them
and I really urge you to go out and find them, because they're just like nothing else.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Gary Rhodes is fanatical about the quality of the produce he uses, in his relentless pursuit of perfection in the kitchen. He's horrified to discover that, not only have we lost the vast majority of our cherry orchards, but hardly any of the cherries we eat in the UK were grown here. His campaign takes him to meet growers who are trying to buck the trend and fight back, not only with new strains of sweeter, larger cherries, but with old-fashioned heritage varieties. Gary's powers of persuasion to make us fall back in love with the British cherry come to the fore in the 'Revival' kitchen, where he prepares some exceptional dishes, including his signature dessert - a delectable cherry clafoutis.
Award-winning food writer and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi is passionate about nuts. He uses them in many of his recipes as they are an integral ingredient in Middle Eastern cookery. He discovers that although Britain has a rich history of growing nuts, most of us are completely unaware of this tradition. We can grow fantastic walnuts in the UK but not enough for them to be commercially viable, so most walnuts we eat are imported. Yotam wants this to change and for us to get behind our native nuts like the British cobnut - a nut that most people have never heard of unless they live in Kent, where it is grown. To get us to appreciate these homegrown delicacies, he creates some fantastic sweet and savoury dishes including a magnificent cobnut crumble cream and roasted aubergines with an amazing walnut salsa.