As funny as it may sound, I really did grow up in a family of botanically enthused people. My father, a keen plantsman and gardener, developed our large kitchen garden in Yorkshire, full of a huge array of fragrant herbs and delicious fruit. Over the years, from 1979 onwards, when my parents, Martin and Aline Parsons, started their Aladdin’s cave of a craft and food shop in the quiet village of Womersley, we saw the reputation of the vinegars and jellies, in particular, grew above all the other foods we were stocking. In 2009 I took over the running of the company, and I decided that it was very important that we rebranded the business in order to compete more efficiently.
We won a Designing Demand Grant from the Design Council and appointed Mayday Living Brands to oversee our rebrand and design. Through them, we were introduced to the amazing Swedish artist, Petra Borner, who did all the artwork for our new logo. I am so glad we rebranded the company, as so many people have told me how much they love our logo, that it is really bright and eye-catching
So much has happened in the last year: we have won a Gold** at the Guild of Fine Food Awards and we have set about really focussing on those product lines that represent our strengths. The Foodie Bugle approached me to write all about our artisanal fruit and herbal vinegars and jellies, and to tell readers how they can be used in cooking.
Womersley fruit vinegars – how to use them
We are really proud, after all these years that our fruit vinegars are popular with home cooks and chefs alike, because we really do aim to challenge common preconceptions of vinegar. Using mild spirit vinegar to infuse a generous amount of fruit, we only use natural ingredients to ensure a stable and intense fruit and herb flavour which is immediately apparent on the palate. I love watching the faces of people tasting our vinegars for the first time because they prepare for a familiar sharp, acidic taste, only to be really surprised by the mildness of the tang and the depth of the fruit and herb flavour.
When you are cooking, vinegar is more than just an added-on ingredient in recipes, or just a condiment on a salad. You can perform great tricks by improving the flavour of food, preserving food, filling in for missing ingredients, tenderising meat and even making food look better. By adding a good splash during the preparation process, vinegar can add an extra layer of flavouring, enhancing the finished result. For example, you could try marinading chicken thighs or breasts overnight in our Strawberry and Mint Vinegar before gently pan frying them or putting them on the Barbeque.
Something you might never have thought of, for parties, is that Raspberry Vinegar in a glass of Champagne or Prosecco looks very pretty and festive. And we are also working on a Womersley Mojito with our Lime, Black Pepper and Lavender Vinegar for when we really want to get the party started.
Womersley herb jellies – on the side or in the pan.
We specifically make our herb jellies to be soft-set, jewel-coloured and translucent. Our recipe is balanced to allow maximum versatility in the kitchen, whilst always making sure that the true aromas of the plant flavours, whether they be geranium, rosemary, apache chilli or lavender, are at the forefront.
Most cooks serve our jellies on the side of a plate of smoked salmon or served with cheese. I love to melt a generous spoonful of our Geranium Jelly into the sauce for fish pie, because you get a delicious, aromatic balance to the soft creaminess of a really good pie. On the other hand, Apple and Apache Chilli Jelly has a warmer, richer flavour to it, to really add zing to your cooking.
We are a small, artisanal family business, we take great pride in what we do and I hope I have inspired you to be a little more adventurous in your cooking. Our website, at www.womersleyfoods.co.uk tells you all about our stockists, but if you would like to meet me or taste our products, then do come along to one of the food fairs where we exhibit. I really look forward to seeing you there.
Rupert Parsons, Owner, Womersley Fruit & Herb Vinegars
E-mail: [email protected]
Womersley Foods will be at the following 2011 Food Fairs:
April 14th-17th – Harrogate Flower Show
April 30th-May 2nd – Dales Food Festival, Leyburn
May 5th– 7th- Real Food Festival, Earl’s Court
June 12th – Nigel Haworth’s Food Fair, Blackburn
July 15th-17th – Woburn Garden Show
July 22nd-24th – CLA Game Fair, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
September 2nd-4th – Chatsworth Country Fair
See you soon