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The brilliant food and drink producers of Buckinghamshire

PUBLISHED: 14:22 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:22 21 March 2014

Evert Donker of Chiltern Ridge Apple Juice with his apple press

Evert Donker of Chiltern Ridge Apple Juice with his apple press

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We like to hunt down the best, and so Claire Pitcher and Maureen McLean set out to find some of our county’s tastiest food and drinks

The Blossoms Syrup rangeThe Blossoms Syrup range

Business is blossoming

Aude Dupont has been creating flavoured syrups in Beacons Bottom for almost four years. She’s come a long way since bottling samples in her kitchen. After eight months working from her home she found a factory and now Blossoms Syrup comes in nine flavours: sloe, grenadine, blackcurrant, strawberry, pineapple, passionfruit, raspberry, sour cherry and pomegranate. “They are unique,” says Aude, “following a French traditional recipe (‘sirop’; the brand creator is French) but made in Britain with a fresh fruit twist.

“Passionfruit and Blackcurrant were awarded two Gold Stars in 2012 and 2013 respectively by the Great Taste Awards. Raspberry was awarded 2013 Food Product of the Year by Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life.

“Of course, winning awards for the quality of our products gives great satisfaction, but the favourite thing about doing this is being able to inspire food and drink lovers. It’s amazing to talk to a large amount of people who are really creative. Being at food festivals allows us to do that as well as demonstrate how to use the syrups.

“Despite the recession, people prefer to spend money on decent and natural quality ingredients. More and more people want local produce and visit food festivals to get the inspiration and taste buds going. With the bad press on other food products, the public pays attention to the raw materials used and where they come from. They also really care if the product is natural or artificial: they don’t want any more fake replacements.

“People are not afraid of producing anymore despite the bad press and they’re not scared of experimenting. The quality of food produced by this county is what people should be proud of.

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Think yokel

Back in 2012, following a shopping spree at his local supermarket, Tom Ley realised that there just weren’t any fruit yogurts made with only pure and natural ingredients – so with purity of flavour in mind he set off developing his own. “Using my background in manufacturing, a business head and dairy farming in my blood, I decided to take the big step and start Yokel yogurts. We started trading in late 2013 and are only really three months old, so relatively new, but certainly determined.”

Based in Aylesbury, Tom’s favourite aspect of business is selling – predominantly at local markets in and around Bucks as this brings together all the hard work behind the scenes: “From originally developing the yogurts to manufacturing, which makes me quite proud of how far we’ve come.”

With just three months of being a new business owner under his belt, Tom’s immediate plan is to cultivate local stockists and grow the brand: “We’re also looking at introducing a plain Greek yogurt to our line up and developing more flavours to add to our existing range. We’re really proud of the quality of our little yogurts,” he adds.

Tom’s favourite food producers: Marlow’s Rebellion brewery, in particular Smugglers beer.

Discover more about yokel online at www.yokelyoghurt.co.uk or call 01296 393232.

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An apple a day

“Chiltern Ridge Apple Juice started as we wanted to make apple juice for our local school (Chartridge Combined School) as a fundraiser back in 2006,” says owner Evert Donker, pictured right.

“We found it difficult to find a person or company to do it for us so we bought our own equipment. Our first press was small and very labour intensive and as our customer base grew, we gradually increased the size of our equipment.

“We have to process all the apples in a relative short time, mainly to avoid the backlog of apples being delivered. We like to keep our customers happy by turning their apples into juice within a week.

“It’s nice to see a homegrown fruit turned into a product that keeps and can be enjoyed over a period of a year without going to waste.

“During the apple juice season we also keep pigs and we feed the apple pulp to them, again nothing goes to waste and the freezer ready pork and homemade sausages do taste delicious.

Encouraging local businesses and producers has always been important to Evert and over the last five years or so the popularity of ‘buying local’ has certainly increased; something he can identify

with himself: “I think people are more aware of local produce and are happy to source and pay a little more knowing

where it comes from, and more importantly people are happy to support local businesses as this in return feeds back into the local community.”

As well as apple juice, Chiltern Ridge also produces cider and sells eggs, seasonal lamb, chicken and pork as well as pure bred and hybrid poultry.

See www.chilternridge.com or call 01494 776309.

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Freshly baked

Trust us, you haven’t tasted bread until you bite into a slice of any of the varieties produced by Chesham’s Darvell & Sons, a family business where all the bread is handcrafted and made in small batches. They like to support other local producers as well, such as Tring Brewey Ales in their beer and caraway loaves. We found these at Seasons Farm Shop in Speen. See seasons-farmshop.co.uk and darvellandsons.co.uk.

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The bees’ knees

This is a great county for honey so keep taking care of those precious bees!

Here we have a variety made by RE Brunswick in Oving and on sale at Kings Farm Shop in Wendover.

Did you know that ‘locally grown’ honey is thought to help with relieving the symptoms of hayfever?

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Natural goodness

Chiltern Natural Foods of High Wycombe produce a delicious range of goodies including cereals, fudge and dried fruit. They don’t include any E-numbers, chemicals, artificial colouring or flavouring or unrecognisable additives. Find them in good farm shops such as Seasons, or order direct from chilternnaturalfoods.com.

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Food fit for a King

You’ll find a feast of local goodies at Kings Farm Shop at Loudwater Farm, Nash Lee Road, Wendover. Delicious pies, the best local joints and hams, farm eggs, plus treats such as Beechdean ice cream, made at North Dean, High Wycombe. See www.kingsfarmshop.co.uk and www.beechdean.co.uk.

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Egg-cellent snacking

Want to taste the best Scotch eggs? We think it’s hard to beat these, made by Kirsty’s Kitchen of Haddenham and on sale at the superb Seasons Farm Shop in Speen. See seasons-farmshop.co.uk, follow Kirsty on twitter @kirstyskitchen, see www.facebook.com/Kirstysscotcheggs.

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