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2005 highlights, 2006 forecasts

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2005 has been a great year for sausagelinks. Highlights have been our reader numbers doubling (and your feedback), sending our first newsletters and our Britain's Best Banger Competition (which ends next month).

After visiting far too many food shops, markets and food fairs here are our food picks of the year and forecasts for 2006:

Favourite sausages

We have probably tried 400 different sausages this year. Sausages twice a week for meals racks up around 200 plus trips to food fairs, sausage tastings and the odd box of samples. We didnít like all of them, the most memorable were:

Hoggs puddings from Arthurs Butchery in Topsham, Devon.

Black pudding from Clonakilty Black Pudding .

All the sausages from Wickcroft Farm Shop in Berkshire.

The Salisbury Sausage from Cranborn Stores.

Lastly, the best supermarket sausage was Chilli & Coriander from Sainsbury.

Disappointments were nearly everything from M&S, the over hyped Weetons food shop in Harrogate and the decline of Simply Sausages .

Food highlights

Any chutneys, sauces or goodies from Tracklements but ideally Onion Jam, Cumberland Sauce or Honey & Mustard Salad Dressing.

Mrs Gillís sublime Almond Cake. Buy from retail outlets or direct from her website (you have to send a cheque), at least 2 of our producers sell it but at a 50% mark up to her prices! Mrs Gill

Driving down to Dorest one sunny day in June to collect a River Cottage Pig in a Box. The black pudding and brawn were superb, as was each of the 4 different types of bacon, unfortunately the 3 different sausages were only average.

Food events

September is food festival month, Abergavenny Food Festival is one of the best. It can be yummy mummy middle class but the best food in Wales, lots of tutored food/drink tastings, lectures and visiting food writers and chefs make it the best foodie event in the country (sorry Ludlow).

For a laid back day out in beautiful surroundings (and the best kept kitchen garden on the country), the West Dean tomato and chili events are hard to beat. Both take place over a weekend in August or September and revolve around the aforementioned foods.

Best Market

Biggest is not always best but it is when it comes to farmers markets. Winchester Farmers market is the biggest in the country, their is mind boggling variety of local produce (everything is made within Hampshire or within 10 miles of the county). Sausage fanatics will be able to buy literally dozens of different varieties from several top notch producers including one of sausage picks of the year Cranborne Stores.

Trends in 2005

What have we seen in the shops and markets this year:

Posh pickles - Adding value to cheap ingredients plus satisfying our desire for traditional 'homemade' food.

Kilner jars - often holding the posh pickles (adding even more value), jam or pate. So what if it costs £2 more, at least we get a really useful jar!

Goose / multi bird roasts - Blame it on Hugh FW anything but Turkey it seems. Goose fat must be selling as never before.

Organic food - still growing, a recent report by the research body Mintel stated that the organic food market has doubled in the past 5 years. Despite this growth we see some doubt entering the market - we have had the first trading standards prosecutions, for mis-labeling organic food and their is a growing awareness that most organic food (around 70%) is imported into the UK. The trans fat debate (see below) will give the organic market a boost in 2006.

Forecasts for 2006

Home baking - You cant trust the supermarkets, trans fats are everywhere, knitting and cleaning are old hat, time to get baking.

Trans fats - or hydrogenated vegetable fats. Very nasty, man made processed fat. They shift the balance of good and bad cholesterol in favour of the latter, encourage fat in artery walls leading to stroked and heart disease. They are present in many processed foods, especially common in factory made cakes, biscuits, pastries, confectionery, margarines and cooking fat used in fast food outlets. From January 2006, US food manufacturers will have to state the amount of trans fat in their products on label. M&S is working towards removing all trans fat from its food in 2006. They are banned from organic food....

More free range meat - many of our producers sell this because it tastes better. Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are all selling free range, out door reared meat. Waitrose has started to state breeds on pork products, M&S is selling salt marsh lamb from Wales.


I big thank you to Janet and Gaynor at Design a Sausage, suppliers of our home sausage making kit, spices and prizes.

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