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Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 14:13 UK
Hairy Bikers hail Suffolk produce
The Hairy Bikers at Snape Maltings
Hairy Bikers say we are enjoying a boom time for good food

TV chefs the Hairy Bikers have been praising Suffolk's local produce.

Dave Myers and Si King rode into the county as part of the BBC programme The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain.

"We're finding passionate people like Jimmy Butler at Blythburgh, whose pork isn't organic but it's very careful free range pig farming," said Dave.

The duo were also impressed with the young people's attitude to food: "There's no 'oh I'm not trying that' - they'll have a go and that's great."

The Hairy Bikers arrived at Snape Maltings, where a plethora of local produce was on display.

Established 18th century names such as Aspall's Cyder and Palmers Bakery were present alongside a new generation.

The popularity of the Snape event proved that food miles and locally sourced produce are important issues.

Produce at Snape Maltings
Children nowadays are keen to experiment with food

"I always say that the 20th Century is a bit of a desert when it comes to food," said Dave.

"Up until Edwardian times we had lots of good food in this country.

"Then we had the depression and then rationing. Things declined a little and they all went mad for Vestas and sliced bread, but I think in the last 20 years we're catching up."

Passionate food producers

Suffolk is well known for its pork, with tin pig houses a common sight.

Jimmy Butler rears his herd of 18,000 pigs on his free range farm, which is now one of the biggest of its kind in the UK.

"He's doing it in volume and that means it's accessible and affordable, because there is no point is having something that's free range and lovely if it's four times the price of something that isn't," said Dave.

Jimmy himself says it's all down to the landscape.

"The reason why there is a predominance of pigs outside in Suffolk is because of the coastline and the dry sandy soil," Jimmy said.

"That is an absolute must for outdoor pig keeping and now one third of the UK's sows are kept outside."

Pigs at Blythburgh
Suffolk's coastline provides excellent dry, sandy soil for pigs

The free range pork produced at Blythburgh has four to five weeks longer to mature to bacon weight creating a product which Jimmy believes gives the meat time to develop a greater flavour and offers better value for money.

"Another big difference is that the standard indoor pork which is bred for the supermarket has a very slim line of fat on it.

"The butchers know what happens when you as a customer go in and buy this piece of pork with no fat on it, it cooks up like a dry piece of leather and then the money is wasted."

We're going down the pub

Chris Lee is the head chef at the Bildeston Crown which The Times described as "the best little progressive kitchen in Suffolk".

"It's a bonus because the suppliers that I use are on my doorstep and I use them because I want to, whereas a lot of chefs use local produce because they feel they should," said Chris.

"Red poll cattle is amazing and tender and tasty, the Nedging pork I use is great as is the lamb which is reared in Semer near Hadleigh, so I'm very lucky with that."

Chris believes that learning more about local food, and particularly meats can provide an opportunity to create some great tasting meals, but also save some money too.

"With pork it's important people realise that it's not just about the loin but the trotters, the ears and the cheeks.

"They are really tasty and that's the sort of food that I swear by."

Using cheaper cuts

"When I had the Hairy Bikers here I cooked a duck dish and used the kidneys and the gizzards, because they really are the tastiest parts," said Chris.

The Hairy Bikers with Chris Lee
Chris Lee likes to catch his own meat for the Bildeston Crown

"I've also got a gun licence now so I'm out shooting hares and rabbits myself which I hope shows people that I feel the local food is so good that I'm happy to go and source it myself."

The Hairy Bikers hope they can get more families enjoying meals together.

"It's great to see kids getting passionate about food," explained Dave.

"There have been kids trying out food we've been making on the tour and they really enjoyed it."


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