Say hello to Hodmedod’s homegrown pulses

This week, Hodmedod’s organic British Fava beans and Carlin peas have joined our range, with wholegrain quinoa soon to follow. Tinned beans might not sound like the most exciting new arrival, but Hodmedod’s store-cupboard staples are something special: forgotten varieties, British grown and really tasty.

Who are Hodmedod’s?

Hodmedod’s are dedicated to supplying beans, peas, grains and seeds from British farms.

“Back in 2008, community group Transition Town Norwich asked Nick, William and I to help them work out whether, with climate change in mind, the city could feed itself from surrounding farmland,” says Josiah Meldrum, co-founder of Hodmedod’s alongside Nick Saltmarsh and William Hudson.

“We looked at various scenarios, but what was striking about all of them was the need to grow and eat more pulses; not only because they’re a great source of protein and other nutrients but because they make a fantastic contribution to more sustainable crop rotations.”

Crop rotations are used by organic farmers instead of nitrogen-based artificial fertilisers. Pulses absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and ‘fix’ it in the soil; growing more of them “would help to reduce the city’s food footprint (the area of land needed to feed itself),” Josiah says.

A 100% self-sufficient Norwich might only have been a thought experiment, but the notion that we should be eating more British pulses stuck. The future-Hodmedod’s team discovered that there were traditional pulse varieties still being widely grown locally – and then exported, or used for pigeon feed! One early interest was Fava beans:

“It seems that in the UK, as we got richer, Fava beans became stigmatised as poor people’s food and over the last 200 years or so have almost completely disappeared from our kitchens. In much of the rest of the world it’s still a staple.”

Nick, William and Josiah decided to form a company to “bring forgotten and overlooked pulses back into kitchens and onto farms.” Hodmedod (an old East Anglian word for snails, ammonites, hedgehogs, the curls in a girl’s hair, really any curled-up thing… Even, the team thought, a bean shoot!) was born.

Fava beans

Hodmedod’s tinned organic Fava beans are cooked and ready to use. Ignoring their recent dip from fashion, we can see why they were so popular with Brits from the Iron Age right up to the 19th Century: they have plenty of body, and a satisfying, meaty flavour.

A favourite in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine – or brilliant for truly British homemade baked beans, and adding body to stews, curries and more.

Hodmedod's organic British Fava beans

Hodmedod’s organic British Fava beans | Riverford Organic Farmers

Carlin peas

The story goes that in the Elizabethan age, a Spanish ship was wrecked off the coast of Newcastle, and bags of Carlin pea seeds were washed ashore and planted by curious farmers. Since then, they’ve become a Northern favourite – but aren’t yet widely used in the rest of the country.

A very deserving Great Taste Award-winner, Hodmedod’s tinned Carlin peas are grown organically in Shropshire. Firm and superbly nutty, they make an excellent British substitute for chickpeas or Puy lentils.

Hodmedod's organic British carlin peas

Hodmedod’s organic British carlin peas | Riverford Organic Farmers


Keep your eyes peeled for Hodmedod’s Suffolk-grown quinoa, hitting our shelves soon. Pioneering farmer Peter Fair started growing quinoa in the UK in the 1980s, and has worked with Hodmedod’s to find the tastiest types for their growers. They settled on the Fairking variety: wonderfully light and nutty, it’s a Delicious Award winner. Watch this space!


Hodmedod’s organic tinned Carlin peas and Fava beans are now available to add to your Riverford order. Read the full interview with Hodmedod’s co-founder Josiah Meldrum on Wicked Leeks.

Introducing Wicked Leeks

From being a straw-chewing yokel working in a muddy backwater in the 80s, when few cared about how their broccoli was grown, we now find ourselves at the centre of so many debates. The surfeit of opinions but lack of reliable information around provenance, seasonality, sustainability and the soil can be frustrating when you are in the thick of it every day – so we are putting our 30+ years’ experience into a sort of online magazine/forum for debate about sustainable food, called (not too provocatively, I hope), Wicked Leeks. Let us know what you think and any topics you’d like us to cover.

Guy Singh-Watson

This blog will stay up and running for the occasional news story about the Riverford product range, but if you’d like to stay up to date with the wider stories in sustainable food, as well as news from our farms, and Guy’s latest newsletter, please join us at, and sign up for weekly newsletters here (

Sustainable wild fish has joined our range!

We’re really pleased to announce that sustainable wild fish is joining our range. It’s been a long journey to this point, but after months of research – consulting fishermen, research bodies and industry experts – we’ve come up with a robust sourcing model that supports local fishing communities, has the least possible impact on the environment, and provides you with the tastiest wild British fish.

Fish for Thought

Our fish is coming from Fish for Thought: a small, family-owned business at the very heart of the Cornish fishing industry.

Fish for Thought are seafood fanatics, and absolutely committed to local sourcing. The business was founded in 2006 by Paul Trudgian. Starting with just one colleague, a Portakabin in a carpark, and “spectacular naivety”, Paul set out to take a warts-and-all look at the fishing industry, determined to change the way people enjoy fish and shellfish.

Today, the team has grown to a few more than a party of two – and they really are leading the way when it comes to sustainable and ethically sourced seafood. All their fish is MSC-certified, and they work closely with the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide (a project led by the Cornish Wildlife Trust) to make the most sustainable choices. They source directly from fishing boats and markets, supporting the fishermen who are operating responsibly, and using their buying power to incentivise further improvement to the industry.

What is ‘sustainable’ fish?

There are many different concepts of what is ‘sustainable’ when it comes to fish. Together with Fish for Thought, we’ve come up with the following fish sourcing manifesto:

  1. Traceability. We know exactly where the fish comes from and how it is caught. All fish can be traced back to individual boats; the name of the boat is shown on each pack.
  2. Minimising harm to the marine environment. Our fishermen use dayboats less than 10 metres long, and line-catch their fish. Line-catching is one of the most sustainable methods of fishing: there is no damage to the sea bed (unlike trawling), no by-catch of other unwanted species, and no risk of lost ‘ghost’ nets that entangle and kill marine life on reefs and in the open sea.
  3. Supporting local fishing communities. By buying fish from local fish markets (Looe and Newlyn in Cornwall, and Brixham and Plymouth in Devon), caught by under 10 metre day-boats, we aim to keep alive the skills and knowledge of small fishing communities.
  4. Top-of-the-line flavour! As well as being the most sustainable method, line-caught fish offers the highest quality. Unlike nets, which are often left in the water overnight, lines are pulled up quickly, so the fish is as fresh as possible. Line-catching is also much gentler; the catch can be bruised and squashed when nets are hauled up.

Our range

Sticking to the rules we have set for ourselves means that our range is quite modest. As we only sell line-caught fish, some species (e.g. flat fish) that can only be caught using other methods are not available. We are only selling three types of fish – but each of them we have absolute confidence in offering.


Mackerel are instantly recognisable by their sleek shape and iridescently striped flanks, mottled with flashes of blue, green and silver. The flesh is firm, deeply flavoured and rich in omega-3 oils. We think fish tastes best served on the bone when possible, so we’ve cleaned and gutted them, but left them whole for you to grill, roast or BBQ.

Order whole mackerel


Pollock is a sustainable alternative to its close relative the cod, with white flesh that stays firm and flakes beautifully when cooked just right. We’re offering it diced for speedy stews, curries and fish pies, or filleted for frying to crisp-skinned perfection.

Order filleted pollock or diced pollock


Fresh squid has a clean, mild seafood flavour, and a very high ratio of usable flesh. We have skinned, prepared, and cleaned it for you. The firm white body is easily stuffed or sliced – and though the tentacles may look a bit sinister and sci-fi, they are just as delectable as the flesh, if not more so.

Order squid

Why do we freeze our fish?

All our fish is iced at sea, and blast-frozen within 24 hours of being caught. It will arrive at your doorstep defrosted and chilled.

Freezing the fish right after being caught ensures that it’s fresh when you come to eat it. Fish from industrial scale boats may have a much longer journey before it’s frozen. In our blind taste tests, we found no impact from freezing on flavour or texture.

Freezing also enables us to catch the fish when they are plentiful in our local seas, and balance supply and demand.

Why isn’t your fish organic?

Wild caught fish can’t be certified as organic, as the conditions under which it’s grown can’t be controlled (it’s the ocean!). The only fish that can be certified organic is farmed fish, which is reared in enclosed environments.

Our range of wild fish is available to order online now.

How to cook a turkey

A whole golden, succulent roast organic turkey: the classic Christmas centrepiece. Our birds are the much-celebrated Bronze breed: a slow-growing traditional turkey that gives rich, juicy meat with an intense natural flavour. We include the giblets, so you can top off your roast with the absolute best proper gravy.

Here are some simple tips from our cooks here at the farm for cooking the perfect roast and making a sumptuous organic gravy too.

Firstly, the basics:
– Remove and freeze the giblets as soon as the turkey arrives (defrost in time to make your gravy).
– Allow the turkey as much air as possible, preferably by untying it to let air into the cavity.
– Take the turkey out of the fridge 30 mins before cooking.
– Untie the bird before roasting, or it will increase the cooking time.
– If the turkey has been frozen, defrost thoroughly in the fridge or a cold place before cooking.
– Don’t use the cavity space for stuffing – it slows down cooking, absorbs fat and will mess up the gravy. Instead use the neck cavity.
– Remove cooked leftovers from the carcass and put them in the fridge as soon as possible. Eat within two days. If you cook with leftover turkey, make sure it is piping hot.
– Make sure you save all your turkey bones to make stock with, if you are planning more than one Christmas feast it will make the perfect addition to future gravies.

To cook the perfect turkey, try this simple method our Riverford cooks have tried and tested:

Prep 15 mins, cook 45 mins per kg & 30 mins resting time
In addition to the turkey you will also need
400g stuffing (try our sausage meat stuffing recipe)
1 lemon, quartered
1 large onion, peeled & quartered
a generous sprig of herbs (bay, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.)
50g melted butter

1. Weigh the turkey and work out the cooking time
Here’s an easy way to work out the cooking time without trying to balance a turkey on your kitchen scales! Each bird will already have its total weight on the label, so remove the giblets, weigh them separately and deduct their weight from the total. Add the weight of your stuffing (if using) to get the right cooking time. You will need to cook your turkey for 45 mins per kg.

2. Prepare the turkey
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Remove the giblets if you didn’t remove them on arrival (keep them for your gravy). Lift the flap of skin at the neck end and pack in your stuffing, then pull the skin back and secure under the bird, using wooden cocktail sticks if necessary. Season the main cavity, then push in the quartered lemon, onion and herbs. Transfer to a large roasting tin, breast-side up, and brush the breast and legs with the melted butter before seasoning. Cover the whole bird loosely with foil to protect the skin from over-browning, and transfer to the oven for the calculated time.

3. Cooking, testing and resting
Every hour baste with its juices. 30 mins before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil to allow the skin to brown up. At the end of the cooking time, check the meat is thoroughly cooked by inserting a carving fork into the thickest area of both breast and thighs. If the juices run pink, return to the oven for a further 15 mins and test again. Repeat until the juices run clear.

Once cooked, remove it from the roasting tray (you will need this tray for making your gravy in so don’t wash it!) and put it on another tray or plate. Cover the turkey with foil again and leave to rest for 30 mins. This will make it more succulent and easier to carve… and don’t worry, your turkey will stay hot for an hour after leaving the oven.

4. Make organic turkey gravy
To make perfect gravy you need to make sure you capture all the flavour the roasted bird has left behind. Using the tray you roasted the turkey in, skim most of the fat out – although leaving a little won’t hurt.

Place the tray over a medium hob and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of plain flour into the meat juices. If you like your gravy on the thick side, you can add more flour. Cook for a minute or so and tip in a small glass of white wine. Let it bubble away until it has reduced by half, using a wooden spoon to scrape and loosen all the interesting, sticky, roasting debris from the pan.

Add about 500ml of good poultry stock along with any resting juices from the turkey. Let it simmer away until thickened, then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. To create gravy just the way you like it, tweak the flavour with a little mustard, or a dash of red wine vinegar to add more piquancy. A little soy, Worcestershire sauce or even miso paste can add more depth if you feel it is lacking. Some people like to sweeten a Christmas gravy with a dab of redcurrant jelly or a tangle of slow-cooked onions. When it tastes just right, enjoy it with your festive feast!

Organic Christmas cheeses from Riverford

We’ve scoured the country for the absolute best handcrafted organic cheeses, sampling everything from classic Somerset cheddars to quirky sheep’s cheese with wild seaweed from the Outer Hebrides. Trialling, testing, tasting… it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.

The result is a Christmas cheese range that we’re really proud of. Here are a few of our favourites, and some tips for enjoying them – although really, you can’t go wrong with buttery oatcakes and a good glass of red!

Caws Cenarth, Caerffilli

The Adams family know all there is to know about cheese: they’ve been making it at Glyneithinog Farm, Cardigan for seven generations, and are the oldest established producer of traditional Welsh farmhouse Caerffili. The Adams at the helm today, Carwyn, still uses the same recipe his great-grandmother used more than 80 years ago. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – this fantastically fresh-tasting, light and lemony cheese won Champion Cheese at the Royal Welsh Show for 7 years in a row.

Caws Cenarth, Perl Las Blue

Perl Las, or ‘Blue Pearl’, is the result of a happy accident, when a handful of Cenarth’s mature Caerffili cheeses became naturally blue. Intrigued by the result, Carwyn set out to recapture the flavour, and this unique cheese was born. It’s unlike any other blue cheese: strong but delicate, and roundly creamy, with lovely lingering blue overtones.

Give it a go in our parsnip, apple & chickpea salad with walnuts and blue cheese: the perfect balance of sweet, earthy, salty and sharp.

Caws Cenarth, Golden Cenarth

Winner of the title ‘Supreme Champion’ at the British Cheese Award 2014, Golden Cenarth is one tasty cheese. Semi-soft, with a smooth, creamy texture, this pungent, full-flavoured cheese is washed in cider for a gorgeous amber-hued rind and a distinctive nutty note.

Slather onto Pimhill’s finest oatcakes, or bake until gooey and golden with crusty bread for dipping… heavenly.

Caws Cenarth brie

Not just offering weird and wonderful Welsh creations, Caws Cenarth are also a knockout on the classics. This traditional, creamy French-style brie has a lovely gooey centre and well-rounded mushroomy flavour and aroma that intensifies with age. For the ultimate indulgence, deep fry and serve with cranberry sauce and a crisp green salad.

Cropwell Bishop Stilton

Cropwell Bishop Creamery has been owned and run by the Skailes family in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir, near Nottingham, for three generations. They are a real institution in the British cheese industry; something that was brought home to cousins Ben and Robin Skailes in 2016, when they were crowned overall champion at the British Cheese Awards and realised the trophy had been donated by their own grandfather 70 years previously!

Their outstanding Stilton has no competition for us: the cheese is ripened and left to age to produce a smooth, mellow flavour that contrasts beautifully with the tanginess of the blue veins. For a hearty seasonal treat, try it in our recipes for sprouts, red onion and blue cheese gratin or squash, kale and stilton pies.

British cheese boxes
Can’t choose from all these artisanal organic cheeses? Then let us choose for you! Available in small (five cheeses) or large (seven cheeses), our British cheese boxes are carefully curated to give you the perfect balance of flavours, textures and tastes. An organic cheeseboard, sorted in one fell swoop – or a lovely gift for a foodie friend.

Let there be soup

The clocks have gone back, heavy coats have been hauled from the cupboard, dark nights are drawing in… Winter is upon us. Good thing we’ve launched our new range of (almost) homemade organic soups to warm you through!

Soupy ambitions

Many moons ago, we set out to create an inspiring range of organic soups. This wouldn’t be the usual characterless supermarket fare, most often made with frozen veg, blended smooth, and given flavour with the conjurer’s trick of bouillon powder. Instead, we wanted to make a selection of recipes with a real Riverford twist. Chefs Bob and Kirsty set out to the kitchen, ladles in hand, with these aims:

  • Lots of our own fresh veg at the heart of every recipe
  • Meat (where it’s used) just as a seasoning, not as the main ingredient
  • Not all blended smooth, but some more like chunky pottages
  • Real depth of flavour from fresh herbs, aromatics and stock
  • A range that can change throughout the year to reflect the seasons

After a lot of experimentation, they whittled it down to four ideas: two veggie, two with meat, and all extremely satisfying.

Dreaming up soup recipes was one thing; working out how to make those same recipes on a larger scale, and keep the vibrant homemade flavour, was another…

A little help from Pegoty Hedge

Pegoty Hedge is a small kitchen owned and run by the Surman family on their organic mixed farm in the Worcestershire countryside, at the foot of the Malvern Hills. As fellow farmers, they share our belief that quality ingredients, treated with care and attention, will give consistently delicious results. Every one of their organic meals is handmade from scratch. The team already cook up our recipes for nut roast and chicken stock, so we were sure they would do the same wonderful job with our soups.

Having received our recipes, Oliver Surman kindly invited Bob up to the farm, to spend some time tasting and tweaking until he was happy that the soups had been faithfully translated into a bigger batch.

As they soon discovered, a chunky soup is much more time consuming to cook and to pack than one that’s blended smooth. The veg needs to be uniformly chopped, and the liquid and chunky bits must be equally divided into the pots. To make our chosen recipes, the team at Pegoty Hedge must prep the fresh veg by hand, and strain and portion each pot individually. But everyone agreed that the extra effort is well worth it for the homemade result.

All adjustments to the recipes were agreed over a civilised cuppa at the farmhouse table, before Bob headed back to Devon with a boot full of soup to unleash on our lucky tasting panel.

Beautiful soups

After all that pondering and tweaking, these are the recipes we’ve ended up with, all spot on for a hearty lunch or light dinner for two people.

Chicken, spinach and courgette laksa

A noodle-laced elixir shot through with fresh veg and slow-cooked chicken. The fresh chicken broth is flavoured with a restorative South Asian fusion of bright Thai-style spicing and deep, earthy turmeric. There’s enough chilli to make you take notice, but nothing too potent, and a good squeeze of lime to finish.

Carrot dhal

This smooth carrot and lentil soup is packed with sweet Riverford carrots and onions, fragrant Indian spices, coconut, ginger and chilli. We’d recommend serving it with warm bread or naan.

Moroccan vegetable harira

This soup is a true meal in a bowl. With all the fragrant flavours of North Africa, it’s chock-full of veg (including Riverford potatoes, carrots and red peppers), rice and chickpeas. A robust lunchtime repast for two, or easily teased into an evening meal with a poached egg, some shredded chicken or warm flatbreads.

Smoked bacon, kale and borlotti soup

A sturdy soup, reminiscent of an Italian ribollita. It has a backbone of Riverford onions, carrots and celery, and creamy borlotti beans, slow-cooked with plenty of sweet tomatoes and finished with robust black kale and smoked bacon. Chunky and filling – made to sate the keenest appetites.

Our new organic soups are available to order now – you can browse the selection here.

Colouring competition winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered our Pumpkin Day colouring competition – we were overwhelmed with the number of entries, and the skills on show!

Arianne, our designer (and illustrator of the blank picture), has picked her favourites. The two winners will both receive a Christmas dinner box, and, as it was so hard to choose, we’ve also picked some runners up (from age categories of 5 and under, 6-8, 9-11, 12-15, and 15+) who will receive an organic advent calendar. We’ll be in touch next week to arrange everyone’s prizes.


Under 15 – Erin from Oxford

Arianne says: Erin, everyone who passed your drawing on our wall studied it in awe. We all loved your imaginative concept, and the idea of a Stranger Things-style dark side to Riverford. Your concept was executed with real talent and passion!

Over 15 – Tom from Plymouth

Arianne says: Tom, your painting is really imaginative and I love the colours. You’re obviously really talented with ink and watercolour, and you really made an effort with staging your post.

(In no particular order)


Guy’s new book – Vegetables, Soil & Hope

Every week for over 25 years, Riverford founder and farmer, Guy Singh-Watson, has distilled his ruminations on ethical food, farming and business into a missive for our veg boxes.

We’ve pieced together a selection of them in a new book, Vegetables, Soil & Hope, alongside witty illustrations, to chronicle a quarter century of a life on the veg.

We have some of you to thank, for suggesting your most memorable newsletters for us to consider, and some of you who sent in ancient newsletters and helped us to fill gaps from the early years, when our file keeping wasn’t great.

Each piece promises to challenge the food on your plate, make you empathise with those who produce it, or celebrate Guy’s true vegetable loves, which include artichokes, bitter leaves and cardoons. And for some of you who have been customers for donkeys years, we hope the book might bring some veg box nostalgia.

The newsletters are brought to life with witty, colourful and inventive drawings, which we have Guardian Weekend artists, Berger and Wyse, to thank for.

“If any of its contents leads anyone to reconsider the nature of good farming or business, I will be happy. There are too many save-the-world books and most of them are too long. This one is short, and I hope, easy to ready.”
– Guy Singh-Watson

The book is available to add to your order now.

“Guy Singh-Watson has become well known for his “rants”… some may think his views extreme, but to me they make perfect sense. Anyone who thinks it matters where our food comes from, and what goes into it, will want to read this book. And anyone who doesn’t should be forced to read it!”
– Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

Two new Lancashire cheeses

Over the years we’ve taken our time finding small-scale producers across the country who make exceptional organic food to complement our veg. Our cheese range is full of moreish hand-crafted cheeses from people who share our core values and who have honed their specialist skills and passion over the years.

New to join the range are two classically British cheeses from Leagram Dairy, run by the Kitching’s family. Their small organic dairy is set in the beautifully remote Trough of Bowland countryside, Lancashire. It’s a very traditional operation: their organic milk is all sourced from local cows, and the cheeses are lovingly made by hand with tools that are over 120 years old. Dipping the cheese in hot wax seals in the texture while the cheeses mature, before the team cut each wedge by hand.

The business was originally started and run by Bob Kitching, whose passion of the art form of making cheeses lead him to travel the country with his wife, reviving the wonders of British cheeses. He had a keen interest in the traditional methods of making cheese. Despite Bob’s passing in 2013 this small family business has continued to thrive, with his wife Christine and daughter Faye sharing their passion and knowledge and the family business being awarded gold medals at the British Cheese Awards and the International Cheese Awards.

We’ve selected our two of our favourites: the Crumbly Lancashire for its creamy taste and crumbly texture, with a subtly sharp taste. It’s is a beautiful melter and so easy to eat. Tumble over fresh summer salads, or bubble into a decadent cauliflower cheese.

Next up is the Wensleydale which is a mild, delicately honeyed cheese. Pack this handsome white wedge into your picnic basket with some oatcakes and sweet chutney for a portable ploughman’s, or pair with apples on a summery cheeseboard.

Both cheeses are available to add to your order now.


Our new raw, organic honey

Organic honey is very hard to come by. A bee’s foraging distance is up to 12km, and for honey to be certified as organic, the honey producer must be able to prove that its bees have only foraged in organic land. These distances are beyond most producers’ capabilities, especially on our small island, where organic land is typically surrounded by non-organic farmland sprayed with artificial chemicals.

But after years of searching, we have found a fantastic organic honey producer: Bona Mel, a family run Spanish business who have been beekeeping for three generations, and organic since 1990. They are based in the Spanish mountains, where their hives are scattered across the natural parks of Sierra Mariola and La Safor, Alicante, which are home to an astonishingly rich natural variety of plants. To the bees, that’s a botanical smorgasbord, where blossom is available all year round.

Their raw wildflower honey is red tinged, with a fragrant, sweetly floral taste – and because they live in a completely uncultivated area, we can be certain that it’s 100% organic. The honey is raw, and prepared by bees with the nectar from various Mediterranean wild flowers.

Because Bona Mel produce, prepare and jar their honey themselves, it is traceable right back to the hive.

You can add Bona Mel honey to your order now: