One of the great ways to experience Northumberland is through her food. This most northerly county of England has an extremely proud heritage when it comes to the production of food. Northumberland is also home to some unique and really rather interesting dishes and recipes. Come and experience some great Northumberland Food – like Craster smoked kippers, Northumberland Cheese, Oysters from Holy Island as well as the Berwick Cockle, which isn’t quite what you think it is. Typical and traditional Northumberland dishes include stotties filled with ham and pease pudding, Singing Hinnies and Pan Haggerty. Read on and find out how one of England’s best-loved teas came to be – and why it was created here in Northumberland, England!
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Traditional Northumberland Food to Try on Your Trip
Trying the traditional and typical food of a region can give you a greater understanding of the area, her history and her people. The food and drink of Northumberland is no exception – with traditional drinks and food that reflects the history, landscape and people of the area.
There are a lot of traditional north east England foods, many of which are Northmberland recipes, but what food is Northumberland famous for? and what forms the basis of Northumbrian food?
Come on in and explore what to eat and drink in Northumberland – and how to make some of Northumberland’s most famous dishes yourself at home!
Smoked Kippers from Craster and Seahouses
Fishing for herring in the North Sea was a major industry in the early 1900’s – with more than 20 fishing boats supplying yards in the villages of Craster and Seahouses. At the height of herring popularity, more than 2,000 herring were gutted each day in Craster and the fish was exported throughout Europe and Russia. Today there’s just one smokehouse left in Craster, L. Robson and Sons using traditional smoking methods and secret family recipes.
In Seahouses, you’ll find Swallowfish – still using the original smokehouses in which herrings have been smoked since 1843. Buy at the shop in Seahouses or from their online shop.
Smoker kippers are traditionally a Northumberland breakfast favourite – eat with thickly cut buttered brown bread. We love them as part of a picnic sitting on the rocks of the glorious Northumberland coastline. Read more about what to do in Seahouses here.
Eat Lindisfarne Oysters from Northumberland
Legend has it that the monks of Lindisfarne Priory established the first oyster farm in the 1300s after paying a Scotsman 100 shillings for a boat of oysters. Today the Holy Island of Lindisfarne has the only oyster beds on the English coast until you reach Norfolk – and a little further south, Mersea Island has the fabulous Colchester Natives too!
You can buy and eat Lindisfarne Oysters all year round. These are pacific oysters – Crassostrea Gigas and Oysters from Lindisfarne begin their life in a hatchery and then are transferred to the osier beds off in the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve when they’re about the size of a thumbnail. Lindisfarne Oysters are grown in fine mesh bags on trestles in the tidal water off Lindisfarne and can take up to four years to reach maturity. Before they are sold Lindisfarne Oysters go through a 42 hour purification period.
Buy yourself half a dozen or a dozen oysters from the Lindisfarne Oyster Company and enjoy with a squeeze of fresh lemon with a dash of Tabasco.
Enjoy Northumberland Cheese whether you’re in Northumberland or Not!
I love a good cheese and cheese from Northumberland comes with a unique source – all the cow’s milk is sourced directly from the farm on the Blagdon Estate, Northumberland. Award-winning cheese has been made by the Northumberland Cheese Company since 1984 and they now make 17 artisan cheese, many of which are named after a location in Northumberland. You can trace every piece of cheese back to the milk of a single dairy herd.
All the cheese from the Northumberland Cheese company are made using traditional techniques and products can be tried at their Cheese Loft Café. Find Northumberland Cheese at local delicatessens or at The Cheese Farm, Green Lane, Blagdon, Northumberland, NE13 6BZ. Online purchases can be made here too.
Enjoy Seafood from Northumberland
You’re never far from the coast when you’re in Northumberland and it is a simply fabulous place to try fish and seafood direct from local fishermen. Whether you try Northumberland seafood in a takeaway, café or restaurant (you can’t beat a good fish and chips) or whether you buy seafood and take it back to your holiday accommodation to cook, Northumberland is an amazing place to try the local seafood. Northumberland is a great place for seafood, crabs are great along the coast, depending on the time of year. Smoked Kippers from Craster and Seahouses are fabulous local treats and heading further north, Berwick is famous for its Salmon too.
There’s no better place to pick up your Northumberland Seafood than the town of Amble, where the Northumberland Seafood Centre is based. They source directly from local fishermen – and you’ll be able to pick up varieties of seafood that are plentiful in Northumberland waters. Pollock, squid, redfish, Whiting, Monkfish and a whole lot more. This is sustainable fishing from locals. They specialize in seasonal fresh locally caught fish and seafood – and they’ll even help with details on the best ways to prepare it.
You can buy online from them here or head to the Seafood Centre in Amble and buy over the counter from them. Find them at Northumberland Seafood, Harbour Guest House, Leazes St, Amble, Morpeth, United Kingdom
The word “hinny” in Northumberland and the North East is a term of endearment. A singing hinny is a scone or griddlecake. The singing refers to the sizzling of the fat in the dough as it’s cooked on a griddle or hot plate as if the scone is singing. The ingredients call for baking powder to be added to flour, butter or lard, currants, salt and milk. This is a great singing hinny recipe, or if you’re looking for the singing hinnies recipe James Martin cooked, then its here. The recipe comes from his Islands to Highlands cook book, which contains 80 recipes from around the British Isles > Buy it here.
Ham and Pease Pudding Stotties
A stotty is a large round flatbread with a heavy texture. In the rest of the world – outside of Northumberland and the North East of England you might know this type of bread as “oven bottom bread”. The name “stotty” comes from the idea that if you drop it, it should bounce or “stott”. Stotties contain yeast, but generally, as they are only proven once (most bread will be twice), they have a heavy and sometimes doughy taste. (That is NOT a bad thing!) Originally, stotties may have also been made with the offcuts of dough once the required amounts of bread had been baked.
Stotties are usually split and filled as butties or sandwiches. The most famous of these is a ham and pease pudding stotties. Pease pudding is a savoury paste made of boiled split yellow peas. Water, salt and some spices are added to it and they are cooked into a smooth and easily spreadable paste.
A ham and pease pudding stotty is made by splitting and buttering a stotty. Then thickly spread the pease pudding onto one half of the stotty. Add one or to slices of good Yorkshire ham, place the top of the stotty back on and eat.
Stotties are lovely. Ham is lovely. Nigel loves pease pudding. Sarah doesn’t. Pease pudding tends to be Marmite-like in its lovers and haters. So go on, try it – you can buy pease pudding at butchers (even though there’s no meat in it), or supermarkets in Northumberland. Let us know whether you’re a pease pudding lover or hater. We won’t judge you.
Pan Haggerty – a Northumberland casserole dish
Now you may have seen dishes similar to this in other places and its name is similar too – you could have seen Panackelty, Panacalty, Panaculty, Panackerty, Panaggie or Panack. Here in Northumberland Pan Haggerty is a slow-cooked casserole of meat – usually corned beef and potatoes, onions and carrots.
It gets its name because…. It’s cooked in a pan! In Pan Haggerty history, it was made with meat left over from previous meals – perhaps a roast, or corned beef (when it was cheap). Pan Haggerty is cooked either in a dish in the oven, in a slow cooker, or it can be cooked in a pan on the stovetop. The potatoes garnish the top of the dish – and provide a cheap filling for those eating it, they’re usually sliced and covered with grated cheese.
A Berwick cockle is a white-coloured sweet with red stripes, originally associated with Berwick-upon-Tweed where they have been made since 1801. They are sold loose by weight in paper bags, traditionally in “quarters”—a quarter of a pound.
They were originally made and sold in Berwick by the Cowe family until their shop closed in 2010. The current version is described as a “crumbly” mint, while the original Cowe product was a hard mint
Traditional Northumberland Drinks
Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for the food of Northumberland, you can’t but fail to want to try drinks of the region. And there are some pretty famous ones too!
Earl Grey Tea
While we often think that the drink “tea” hails from exotic locations, it’s Northumberland that you have to thank for Earl Grey. The water at Howick Hall in the Northumberland coast area had a distinct taste of limestone in the 1830s. Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister for Britain from 1830 to 1834 had a special blend of tea made up to counter the taste of the lime at Howick Hall, his family seat.
It’s Bergamot that’s added to the blend to remove the lime taste. Be sure to try it – and for a special treat, head to Howick Hall Gardens for a unique tea drinking experience where it was invented. Buy Earl Grey Tea to drink at home here.
Originating from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland is Lindisfarne Mead. Mead from Lindisfarne is a fortified honey wine mixed with spring water, fermented grape juice herbs and spirits. It’s sometimes known as Lindisfarne wine or Lindisfarne mead wine.
Allegedly the monks who once lived here made it originally. Today Lindisfarne mead made exclusively at the St Aidan’s Winery on the island, where you can taste before buying and taking some home.
Best Northumberland Food Recipes
Whether you want to try some of the recipes from Northumberland at home, or simply try traditional Northumberland recipes out while you’re visiting, there are some great options here – why not get some Northumberland specialities delivered home to have a Northumberland feast?
Final Words on The Best Northumberland Food
Northumberland really has some rather special food experiences awaiting. The traditional food of Northumberland and her drinks focus on history and the specialities of the area to bring you the taste of Northumberland. Trying the food and drink is one of the best things to do in Northumberland (and here’s our top 10 to do’s) Be sure to try some of the traditional experiences – there’s nothing better we think, than stotties, or some pan haggerty with a cup of Earl Grey tea!
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