Nick Saltmarsh – Hodmedod – Carlin Peas
Slow Food UK is incredibly proud to have Ark of Taste producers like Nick Saltmarsh, Josiah Meldrum, and William Hudson of Hodmedod on board. Please read more about Hodmedod and their forgotten food Carlin Peas below.
How Nick Saltmarsh, Josiah Meldrum, and William Hudson got involved in producing Carlin Peas and why they chose this particular product
Nick, Josiah and William realised the absurdity of the situation surrounding British pulses: most of the UK’s beans are exported to the Middle East and Northern Africa, while most of the pulses consumed within the UK are imported from abroad. They decided to do something about this, and started working with local producers of Fava beans, a bean which has been grown in Britain since the Iron Age but little eaten here in recent centuries. After successfully bringing British-grown Flava beans to the market and getting a very positive public response, they started to explore other British varieties of beans and peas which are not widely available, and hit upon the Carlin Pea. With its unique brown colour and nutty flavour, they had found an excellent product that could be used as an alternative to imported chickpeas or puy lentils. They now work with three farmers who grow this special variety, which has a long history in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands.
The story goes that in the Elizabethan age, a Spanish ship was shipwrecked off the coast of Britain, and bags of seeds were washed ashore which were then planted by curious farmers. Since then, it has become a local favourite, traditionally cooked into a dish called parched peas, served with vinegar and salt. Since such limited varieties of beans and peas are being grown commercially and marketed in the UK, there is a lot of exciting potential to reintroduce them into the British diet, and the Carlin Pea is a perfect example of this.
The challenges that they are facing producing Carlin Peas
Hodmedod faces several challenges reintroducing these unusual bean and pea varieties into the British market. One is finding farmers with the knowledge and expertise to grow them well. Another is that the export market means there is little incentive for pulse producers to employ organic standards of farming, but this is something which Hodemedod has begun to develop and is keen to expand upon, believing in the environmental and health benefits of organic farming.
They have very positive feedback from customers who have tried their products, but unfamiliarity with these pulses and how to use them is a challenge. Hodmedod has employed clever tactics to get around this issue, however, introducing a canned Fava bean similar to the much-loved baked bean recipe that is so popular in the UK. Although they don’t intend to try to compete with the big brands in this market, it’s a fun way to garner interest in their products.
Products that Hodmedod is offering
There is a wide range on offer at Hodmedod including both dried and canned varieties of pulses, such as Fava beans, Carlin peas (sold under the dialect name of Black Badger Peas), Kabuki Marrowfat peas, large blue peas, split green and yellow peas, and whole yellow peas. They are also now working with a farmer producing British-grown quinoa.
Their favourite Carlin Peas recipe
Carlin peas can be used much like chickpeas or puy lentils in dishes such as salads or curries. You just need to soak the dried peas overnight in water, or leave them for one hour in freshly boiled water, and then cook for 45 minutes. There are lots of recipes on their website, but a sure favourite is the Rustic Black Badger Salad:
Cook 200 grams of Black Badgers (Carlin peas) and mix them in a bowl with 2 crushed cloves garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, a pinch of chilli flakes, 50 grams of chopped sundried tomatoes, some chopped basil and salad leaves. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!
“We desperately need more diversity on farms and in the food we eat for the sake of farming and farmed landscapes, the environment, individual health and our food culture.The Slow Food UK forgotten foods is a fantastic initiative that helps to raise awareness of superb foods that deserve to be more widely eaten.” Nick Saltmarsh