Farmers’ markets, a huge potential source of new and exciting sausages for us to review! Why we didn’t think of it before I don’t know. Our first visit was to the market in Ely, the famous and beautiful cathedral city in the county of Cambridgeshire, on a sunny but heavily showery Saturday in August. To my surprise there was also a French traders market running alongside – as Dolly Parton might say “My cup runneth over!”
The first sausage I tried from the market was the Traditional Pork variety from Cambria Farm. The stall shouts “Rare Breed Pork” so I simply had to visit, and the array of tempting sausages gave me a real headache as to which ones I should choose. Fighting back curiosity I plumped for the Traditional Porks, as this is our default variety, and decided to try something a little more adventurous next time round. I was served by Steve, who was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his products, but very wary of the whole Rate My Sausage experience and reticent to provide any personal colour for this review, or to even let me photograph the stall!
85%. Wowzer, I soooo have to try their “Meaty Sausage” variety next, because these are practically oinking on my plate. Volvo-size (and I mean eighties, gigantic Volvos) nuggets of mouth-watering pigginess burst out, and the pork is obviously reared with a lot of TLC. Sweet and tender meat, firm and juicy, just like Nigella. But please allow me to introduce the boss of Cambria Farms, Jane Wilton-Clark, to describe in her own words....”We use a min of 85 percent meat in our Traditional Sausage, from cuts such as shoulder and belly. The pigs that we use are our own free range, rare breed pigs. They are mainly The Gloucester Old Spot, but we do use others such as The Large Black, The Oxford Sandy & Black and The British Lop. As the pigs are reared by us, our policy is to separate the boars and gilts before they are 4 months and this has meant that there has never been a problem with taint from the boars, they also have far more room to run about outside and do what comes naturally to a pig and this helps to keeps there mind off the girls. They are normally taken to slaughter at around 8 months of age, when they have had plenty of time to naturally develop the meat and the flavour; bacon pigs we give a bit longer.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Flavour:Remember how your favourite banger tastes. Multiply that flavour by itself, and you’re in the right ballpark to imagine the flavour of these Traditional Pork sausages. Sausage squared. It’s a mathematically impossible level of flavour, but they’ve done it, the flavour’s not overpowering, they’re prettily seasoned, altogether delectable. Plus, it’s been a while since we had ends that properly erupted, what an absolute treat. For the final few words, here’s Jane again, “Sorry, the recipe is a secret, aren't they all !! But I can tell you that they made here on the farm each week and I make sure that only the good meat is used, (no skin, bone, gristle or any unexplained bits) I make up the seasonings weekly for each individual recipe and no preservatives are used in any of our sausages. We make the sausages the day before each market, which is our biggest outlet and then recommend to our customer that they eat them within a couple of days or freeze, they freeze very well. We also used the best natural casings.”
Texture:Steve spoke music to our ears...”Our sausages are all different shapes and sizes”, “We make our filling fuller than most”, and just as we have been telling you, “People’s palates are accustomed to supermarket sausages.” A wise, yet reluctant figure is Steve, the Yoda of Sausageworld. The texture is super-crumbly, coarse and knobbly, just how we likes it. It’s almost difficult to cut a slice, the filling falls apart sensuously. And they’re all different shapes and dimensions, as promised. Oh my goodness, the filling varies with almost every mouthful, there are occasional BIG dollops of the pork and – fabulously – occasional grubs of gristle. Heavenly. If you’re averse to canine nudity you’d better reach for a blindfold, because these are the mutt’s nuts!
Average weight uncooked - 93g
Average weight cooked - 70g
Shrinkage - 25%
Not too bad, not great, so we can’t criticise too much. Suffice to say that had these shed just slightly less during frying they’d have been serious contenders for Sausage Of The Year, under our idiosyncratic and secret scoring system....
Value For Money:£3.31 for four sausages, weighing 370g - this works out as a price of £8.95 per kg, or 83p per snorker. Quite expensive, but such good quality, I have to rate Cambria Farm’s Traditional Pork Sausages as Good value for money.
The Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
There’s just one word to describe these sausages cold from the fridge next morning....”Absolutely superb.”
As well as Ely Farmers Market, which is held on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, you can find Cambria Farm and the publicity-shy Steve at St Ives market on the first and third Saturday. What are you waiting for?
And Finally, Esther:
The last word has to go to Steve....”Incredible, these sausages are.”
May the pork be with you.
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