Hemsley + Hemsley, the sisters who have turned good, healthy food into an art, are on a road trip to discover delicious home grown British foods. Jasmine and Melissa are visiting local producers, farmers and fishmongers to get the lowdown on the country’s tastiest wholesome, organic and nutrient filled foods. The sisters have been trailing Britain’s green fields and country lanes to meet with like-minded family businesses to unravel the essence of thoughtful eating: rediscovering the heritage of our food, and understanding what we’re feeding ourselves and loved ones.
Follow Hemsley & Hemsley on the road to thoughtful eating as they share with you a series of sensational summer suppers free of grain, high starch and refined sugar
Brambletye Fruit Farm & Orchard Eggs
On the final leg of their tour the girls venture out to the High Weald of Sussex, where an area of natural beauty hides Brambletye Lane, home to one of the UK’s few biodynamic farms. We’ll come on to explain biodynamic in more detail, but in simple terms – it’s organic … and then some!
The farm supplies fruit and eggs to farmers markets, supermarkets and local independents. Jasmine and Melissa visited Brambletye as the team got ready for the first harvest of apples this year – the lovely sweet, juicy Collina.
The entire team is made up of just two young families, who have built their own self-sufficient homes on the farm, and several friends and Biodynamic apprentices. The farm is managed daily by a core team of under 10 people, and then when harvest time comes around they pull in as many hands as they can to pick the fruit before it drops.
Stein and Ellie take Jasmine and Melissa on a tour of the orchards with their 6-month old baby Tristan. First stop is the chicken coop, home of Orchard Eggs, and just in time to release the birds so they can spend the day roaming the orchards freely. The chickens are very keen to get out - Melissa gets her GALAXY S4 ready to capture the action as the doors open - hundreds of chickens hurtle towards Melissa as they make a beeline for the trees. Just as well the phone features zero shutter lag to capture all the action!
There are a total of 3,000 chickens at Brambletye, and each has a key role to play in biodynamic farming. They feed off the fallen fruit and bugs, which not only protects the trees, but when nature calls, it provides the best fertilizer a tree could want. This holistic cycle is the key to biodynamic farming. Its principals are based on a closed system – giving back to the earth what you take out. Very little waste is created as it's mainly farmed back into the land, and since no pesticides or herbicides are used, biodynamic farming will only use a minuscule amount of outsourced materials.
Before we all up sticks to get a slice of the ‘Good Life’ for ourselves, Stein highlights the patience required. Unlike commercial farming, biodynamic farms take far longer to yield fruit good enough to sell in any kind of volume. For example at Brambletye, they've been waiting 5 years for their pear trees to harvest a good yield to sell on. In commercial farming it would typically take 2 – 3 years to get your first good yield. So you've got to love a bit of gambling too! Nature rules.
Despite the wait and sacrifices you have to make, as the girls found at Riverford, fruit grown in this way tastes so much better. At Brambletye they grow 15 varieties of apples, pears, blackberries, and redcurrants. The girls tasted the blackberries and early Collina apples and said they're definitely worth waiting for.
In taste tests, seasonal fruit will always win. Fruit grown on biodynamic farms will also play well on your conscience – they’re 100% free from chemical nasties, and you’re giving back to the earth, helping to secure the future growth of the fruit we love.
The other great thing about biodynamic farming is the presence of chickens. At Brambletye the concept of free range is taken to a whole new level. By day, chickens do as they please, running around the farm and orchards – some of them even followed the pickers to join them for a cup of fresh mint tea with raw honey oozing straight from a honeycomb. By night, the chickens get some much needed sleep in their coop laying lots of eggs in the morning.
The biodynamic cycle paves the way for happier, healthier chickens, which ultimately results in tastier eggs. The eggs are sold under the name Orchard Eggs and can be bought from local farm shops and markets in and around Sussex, such as Infinity Food Shops in Brighton, and Tablehurst Farm Shop in Forest Row. If you’re not local to Sussex, you can also get hold of delicious Orchard Eggs through a number of home delivery box schemes. Visit their website to find your nearest shop.
On their way to Brambletye Fruit Farm Jasmine and Melissa took the GALAXY S-Voice Drive app for a spin. It’s a unique feature that turns your smartphone into a ‘sat nav’ with hands-free voice commands. The app proved very handy for the girls who found themselves a little lost on their way through the long winding country lanes leading up to the farm.
Dutch Apple Pancake from Hemsley + Hemsley
Brambletye presented us with the perfect combination of delicious ingredients to combine - eggs and apples. This is our kind of pancake - the low effort, no flip, no fuss kind. Great for a sweet breakfast or add some fresh cream to turn it into a homely dessert. The flavours in this dish really conjures up a farmhouse feel, even better when baked in a real farmhouse wood fired oven like we did at Brambletye.
Freshly picked red currants and blackberries straight from the orchards completed the pancake along with a drizzle of raw honey from the Brambletye hives. We enjoyed this slice of perfection with a cup of tea as we sat outside with the chickens roaming and clucking, while watching baby Tristan happily playing with black cat Liquorice - hard for all of us to imagine that this world really does exist outside of our manic London.
Ingredients (use organic ingredients where possible)
4 medium British grown apples
50g + 15g butter
5 medium eggs
3 tbs coconut flour (opt 2 tbs coconut flour + 1 tbs of arrowroot)
4 tbs maple syrup
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tbs vanilla extract
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp + 1tsp cinnamon
¼ cup water
Opt: coconut palm sugar to finish or raw honey
• Preheat your oven to 200C.
• Heat 15g of butter in an ovenproof 9in frying pan/skillet.
• Cut the apples lengthways, first into quarters and then into thirds, removing the core if you like.
• Fry the apples with the 15g of heated butter and 1tsp of cinnamon on a medium heat for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally and allowing the edges to brown.
• Gently melt the 50g of butter in a saucepan and put to one side to cool.
• Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
• Add the rest of the ingredients one at a time, including the 50g melted butter, while continuing to whisk.
• Remove the apples from the pan and pour in the pancake mixture, then arrange the apples on top - sprinkling with a little coconut palm sugar. Or just pour the pancake mixture straight onto the apples.
• Bake in the oven for 20 min or until golden brown on top.
• Finish with a drizzle of raw honey and some yoghurt or cream.
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