FOOD AND FARM­ING A look at Oliver's Cider & Perry

It’s time perry made a come­back says BBC Food and Farm­ing fi­nal­ist Tom Oliver, whose fruity perry is mak­ing a big im­pres­sion

BBC Good Food - - Contents - Words CLARE HAR­G­REAVES

Go­ing back 20 years and, if some­one had of­fered you a glass of perry you’d prob­a­bly have won­dered what they were talk­ing about – or thought they meant sherry. Al­though perry has been made in Bri­tain at least since the Nor­man Con­quest, in the 1970s and 1980s it fell out of favour, perry pear or­chards were grubbed up and perry be­came the tip­ple of just a few cognoscenti. Now perry (like craft ciders and real ales) is wit­ness­ing a re­vival, thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion and skill of pro­duc­ers such as Tom Oliver from Oliver’s Cider & Perry (oliv­er­sciderand­perry.co.uk), who has been named a fi­nal­ist in the Best Drinks Pro­ducer cat­e­gory of this year’s BBC Food and Farm­ing Awards.

Tom grows over 40 va­ri­eties of perry pear on his fam­ily farm in Here­ford­shire, with fab­u­lously in­tox­i­cat­ing names like Gin, Painted Lady and Brandy. In con­trast to dessert or culi­nary pears, perry pears tend to be small, round and as­trin­gent and ined­i­ble raw.

Once har­vested, the pears are washed, milled, then pressed, and the re­sult­ing juice pumped into tanks or wooden bar­rels and left to fer­ment un­til the spring. Tom then blends his per­ries to get the right bal­ance of sweet­ness, acid­ity and as­trin­gency be­fore bot­tling it. Some of Tom’s perry is still, but his best­selling Clas­sic Perry and bot­tle-con­di­tioned ver­sions are sparkling. He also makes sin­gle va­ri­etal per­ries.

‘Care­fully made perry has all the suc­cu­lence and del­i­cacy of a fine white wine and when con­di­tioned ap­pro­pri­ately, all the fi­nesse of a fruity, rich cham­pagne,’ says Tom. ‘I hope that be­ing nom­i­nated a fi­nal­ist in the Awards will spread the word about this won­der­ful, re­fined, and an­cient, drink – the wine of Eng­land.’

Baked ham & cider SERVES 18 PREP 10 mins plus soak­ing overnight COOK 3 hrs 45 mins MORE EF­FORT

This is one of my Dad’s old recipes, and came from a farmer’s wife he once worked for. You can make it with cider or perry. Both bring out the suc­cu­lent flavours of the ham, with perry mak­ing it a lit­tle sweeter. If you use perry, add a bit more mus­tard and vine­gar to the glaze. We eat this for Box­ing Day lunch, and en­joy left­overs with eggs the fol­low­ing morn­ing. What’s great about this dish is that it’s equally good hot out of the oven, or cold the next day. for the ham

4-5kg ham (off the bone) 1 litre Oliver’s Vin­tage Dry Cider

4 car­rots, cut into chunks 2 large onions, stud­ded with cloves large bunch fresh herbs, like rose­mary, thyme and sage

1 gar­lic clove

2 tbsp mo­lasses or black trea­cle

2 bay leaves 12 pep­per­corns for the glaze

1½ tbsp honey

1½ tbsp mus­tard pow­der a drib­ble of perry (or cider) vine­gar, ap­prox ½ tsp 1½ tbsp of mo­lasses or trea­cle

25-30 cloves

1 Soak the ham in a pan of wa­ter overnight (if the ham is salty from dry cur­ing).

2 Re­move the ham and pat dry. Put ev­ery­thing, ex­cept the glaze in­gre­di­ents, in a very large pan, top­ping up with wa­ter in or­der to com­pletely cover the ham. Bring to a sim­mer, re­move any sur­face scum and cook for 17-20 mins per 500g (around 3 hrs), keep top­ping up with wa­ter while the ham cooks.

3 When cooked, drain the ham and leave to cool for 30 mins be­fore peel­ing off the skin. Mean­while, mix all the glaze in­gre­di­ents (ex­cept the cloves) to­gether in a small bowl. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

4 Score the fat in di­a­monds, cover the ham with the glaze and then in­sert cloves into each di­a­mond. Bake in a roast­ing tin for 30-40 mins or un­til golden. Let the ham rest for 45 mins if serv­ing hot or wait un­til cold.

PER SERV­ING (18) 389 kcals • fat 20g • sat­u­rates 7g • carbs 10g • sug­ars 8g • fi­bre 2g • pro­tein 38g • salt 4.3g

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