What are my special features?
Reestit Mutton is mutton which is first salted in brine and then hung to dry traditionally in the rafters (Reest) of the house above a peat fire. The smoke from the peat fire helps to season the meat and after being smoked, the meat is cut up and put into a secret brine recipe which one butcher describes as approximately 80% salt to 20% sugar.
The mutton is left for 10-15 days and hung on hooks to dry. Once dry it will keep for years. The mutton has pale creamy fat, deep red meat and possesses a salty flavour due to the curing methods. The texture is hard and dry. The meat is often used as the basis for stocks, broths and soups and can also be eaten cold in a Shetland bannock which is a flat bread made of wheat.
What is my history?
Photos from the early 1900’s show Reestit Mutton still hanging from roof frames although the fire is now set in a range. Reestit Mutton can be found in local butchers and considered as a worthy Shetland ‘national’ dish contender. The mutton also forms an important feature of the January ‘Up-Helly-As’ celebrations which form part of Europe’s largest fire festival.
Why am I forgotten?
While once a common method of preserving meat throughout the crofting counties of Scotland, Reestit Mutton is now produced solely in the Shetland Islands.
Don’t lose me… cook me!