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Lip-Lickin’ Herby Chicken Pie Recipe

Lip-Lickin’ Herby Chicken Pie Recipe 1024 569 R&G Fresh

Preparation Time

Roughly 2-2.5 hours (including 1hour 30mins in the oven)

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 1tbsp chives (chopped)
  • 1tbsp thyme leaves (fresh)
  • 1 sprig separated sage leaves (fresh)
  • Roughly 130g diced unsalted butter (including up to 10g for greasing)
  • 240g-250g plain flour (including some for dusting)
  • 4tbsp milk of your choice (use unsweetened if non-dairy)
  • 1 egg, beaten (for glazing)

For the filling:

  • Small bunch parsley (finely chopped. Try using our curly parsley for added flavour!)
  • ½ bunch tarragon leaves (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (we prefer olive or rapeseed)
  • Spring onions (sliced)
  • 200g peas (ideally frozen)
  • 250g spinach (ideally frozen)
  • 400g-500g shredded chicken or six roasted chicken thighs
  • ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 200ml crème fraiche (full or half fat, to your preference)
  • 350ml chicken stock (hot)
Herby chicken pie filling

How to make

1) Start with the pastry. Place 225g of the flour into a good-size mixing bowl and work in the butter with your hands until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Then add the thyme, chives and milk and mix with a large metal spoon or blunt knife, adding a splash of water if the now-doughy concoction feels a little dry and brittle.

2) Sprinkle flour over a flat surface and place the dough on it for kneading. Once kneaded, form it into a circle and wrap in clingfilm, then put it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

3) Now for the filling. Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C for fan ovens (gas mark 4). Add the cooking oil to a deep pan or casserole dish and place on the stove on medium heat. First, fry the spring onions for 3 minutes, then add the frozen spinach for a further 2 minutes, stirring the whole time.

4) Next, add the chicken. (If you’re using thighs, you’ll need to remove the meat from the bone first, discarding the skin and clean carcass). Pour in the stock and dollop in the wholegrain mustard, then cook on the stove for around 10 minutes. Take off the heat, add the crème fraiche, tarragon and parsley, and stir, then leave to settle.

5) Your filling is now ready to go in the pastry! For this stage, first, grease and then flour the pie plate or cake tin you want to cook your pie in. Then take around half the chilled pastry and roll it out to fit the plate or tin. Line the plate/tin with the pastry to create the base for your pie, and scoop in the herbily fragrant filling!

6) Take the remaining pastry and after rolling it out to a size that will cover the pie, carefully press the sage leaves into it. Lay your newly-herbed pie lid over the filled pie plate/tin and firmly join the edges of the pastry lid and sides. Remove any excess pastry and, if you like, arrange it decoratively on the top of the lid. (We like to cut it into little herby leaf shapes, but that’s just us!).

7) Cut a small slit in the middle of the pie and glaze with the brushed-on egg, and bake in the middle of the oven for around 90 minutes until your pie is a deliciously light golden-brown. Then serve with seasonal greens and enjoy!

Tip: We love to serve this recipe with Clean Eating’s deliciously rich White Wine Herb Sauce, which incorporates herbs like flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil. Check that out here.

chopping board with cooking ingredients around it

Veganuary: Using Herbs in Vegan Recipes

Veganuary: Using Herbs in Vegan Recipes 1024 569 R&G Fresh

It’s January! And you know what that means: it’s also Veganuary!

Here at R&G FRESH, we love fresh herby dishes of all kinds, and our focus on ethical sourcing practices means we identify a lot with the Veganuary campaign and what it’s trying to achieve.

So to celebrate Veganuary, and to encourage you to give it a go too, we’ve collected some of our favourite creative vegan recipes featuring fresh herbs.

Parsley and dill

Parsley and dill are two of the best herbs to use in vegan recipes, as their flavour profiles complement and contrast with each other nicely.

Both are soft herbs, but while parsley has an earthy, peppery taste, dill has a sharper, aniseedy one. Combining them in your cooking adds a rich and complex finish to dishes, which we’re big fans of.

This meat-free pasta dish from Crowded Kitchen is a fabulous example. It looks incredible – and it tastes even better!

Alongside parsley and dill, it incorporates olive oil, leeks, peas, sugar snaps, salt, pepper, soak-softened cashews, lemon wedges and fresh or roasted garlic. Oh, and of course, vegan pasta!

You can even add a tad more protein with white beans or grilled tofu. And if the meat-eaters in your household absolutely can’t do without it, they can always add grilled chicken pieces instead.

Creamy-tasting, herby and full of nature’s flavours, this is a brilliant way to get friends and family members on board with Veganuary. But in all honesty, we think it would go down a treat on your dinner table any time of the year.

Turmeric root, coriander and red chillies

Fresh turmeric root has anti-inflammatory properties, making it one of the best herbs for a healthy vegan diet. It has a pungent, earthy aroma and adds a musky, peppery taste to meals – along with a golden glow that makes for eye-catching cooking.

Speaking of eye-catching, this recipe for turmeric pumpkin soup from Homespun Capers is certainly that!

soup with fresh herbs on top

Alongside the headline ingredients, it also packs in coconut cream, red lentils, plus lime and coriander – the latter two of which lend a citrusy twist your taste buds are sure to pick up on.

The recipe here also calls for chilli flakes – but we say why not change it up with freshly sliced red chillies instead? We’d suggest one for every half teaspoon of flakes in the recipe, or more if you like your soup with a kick.

Basil

Hearty and aromatic, basil is a universal favourite in salads and hot food recipes alike – but did you know you could also use it in drinks?

Indeed, this recipe for a blueberry tahini basil smoothie from Unconventional Baker is one of our favourite vegan recipes you can make with fresh herbs.

blueberry smoothie in jam jar

For starters – just look at the colour! We can completely picture serving this up to friends and family in the summer (or whenever lockdown laws will allow) and seeing the looks of intrigue and wonder.

It’s so simple to make, too. Just whizz the ingredients – which also include non-dairy milk, frozen banana, hulled tahini and maple syrup – in a blender. Et voila!

The recipe even suggests changing it up by adding lemon juice, cinnamon, or raw vanilla bean extract. It really is a very versatile drink… and did we mention how perfectly purple it is?!

Oregano

We’ve stayed somewhat European so far for our vegan recipes you can make with fresh herbs. But now we’re crossing continents for the taste of Mexico.

These Chimichurri tacos with mushrooms from Veggies Save The Day are a street food favourite, and this is by far one of our favourite creative vegan recipes featuring fresh herbs.

The herb in question, of course, is oregano. A typical favourite in Greek and Italian cooking, this time its bold and ever so slightly bitter flavour is used here as part of the Chimichurri sauce.

Also in there are parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar, plus salt and pepper and olive oil. They’re all blended together and poured over skillet-heated corn tacos filled with sautéed mushrooms.

Top with sliced avocado, and you’re good to go!

Don’t have much room for mushrooms in your life? No problem – swap them out for jackfruit and black beans, sweet potato, or whatever else your taste buds desire.

Chives

And finally, fast food to finish – albeit encompassing two recipes, rather than one.

We found this vegan pesto stuffed crust pizza recipe from My Quiet Kitchen, which suggests using a basil pesto as both a topper and within the stuffed crust.

And honestly, while that’s delicious enough, we want to be a bit more creative, by using what we think is secretly one of the best herbs to use in vegan recipes: chives!

Chives belong to the same family as garlic and onions but have a subtler and more delicate flavour. That’s why we prefer the idea of stuffing said pizza crust with Food52’s vegan spinach and chive pesto instead.

Tickled your taste buds?

So that’s our contribution to Veganuary: five creative vegan recipes featuring fresh herbs you can make and enjoy at home. Have we inspired you to try eating (or drinking!) vegan?

For more of our recipes, check out The Chopping Board. Or head to this page on Feastie.com for a wealth of vegan recipes to last you throughout 2021 and beyond.

birds eye view of man making cocktails with fresh herbs

Using Herbs and Ingredients in Drinks

Using Herbs and Ingredients in Drinks 1024 569 R&G Fresh

What goes into your favourite cocktail? If your automatic answer would be to list a selection of different types of alcohol… well, we’d forgive you!

The truth is that fresh herbs are an underrated, and often overlooked, but still rather key ingredient to some of the most popular concoctions around.

With plenty of occasions coming up, we can’t think of a better time to look at all the different ways to use herbs and ingredients in drinks.

How and when to use herbs in cocktails

As with any food or drink preparation, part of the success when using herbs and ingredients in drinks lies in pairing the right plants and liquor. The other part lies in preparing the herbs properly.

So before you begin mixing, here are the things we’d suggest you keep in mind:

Perfect pairings

Some drinks simply suit certain herbs perfectly. As a quick primer, those heaven-made matches include:

  • Coriander and tequila
  • Dill and vodka
  • Rosemary with any sweet citrus concoction
  • Basil and gin
  • Mint with… well, almost everything! (More on how to use mint leaves in drinks a little later).

Muddle it up

Instead of crushing your herbs like too many overzealous bartenders at the end of a day-long shift, take care using the proper tools. A muddler is essential here, used with a gentle, firm pressing motion that bruises rather than grinds your ingredients.

Done right, muddling will bring the oils to the surface, allowing them to infuse into the other liquids, bringing out the full flavour of your herb(s) of choice.

orange cocktail with mint sprig

Awaken the aromas

This part is less ‘using herbs and ingredients in drinks’, and more on drinks!

Cocktail creation is less a science and more an artform, and that extends to the presentation aspect. Herbs can be a beautiful finishing touch to a cocktail – but for an extra flourish, make sure you release the scents locked inside the leaves.

You can do this through a process called Awakening, whereby you hold the leaves you’ve chosen and bring down your other hand upon them in a gentle slapping motion. If you’ve done it right, you should smell the aroma of your chosen herb begin to fill the room. That’s when you’re ready to use it as a garnish.

Some of our best herb-infused cocktail recipes

Mint

We’ll start with the obvious choice – and by far and away the most versatile. Fresh mint’s smooth, refreshing flavour makes it an ideal way to take the edge of sharper citrussy drinks. However, it also works when paired with a startling variety of other ingredients – from lemon or lime, to chocolate and cream.

Mojitos and juleps might be the most immediate choices for a recipe, but at the time of writing we wanted to keep the winter feel. So instead, check out this creamy and delicious Merry & Bright cocktail recipe from Mountain Cravings.

Basil

Aromatic and earthy in its more common green variety, but spicier and clove-like in its less common purple one, basil makes for a pungent and powerful cocktail ingredient.

One of the most unique we’ve tried is The Fallen Leaf, which muddles both garden green and coppery purple basil leaves before shaking them with white rum, lemon and honey. Visit Kitchen Konfidence for the full recipe and method.

Fresh ginger

Finely-grated fresh ginger goes down incredibly well in a cocktail, giving beverages a strong, spicy flavour.

In particular, ginger complements sour drinks rather nicely – such as in this Ginger Lime Whiskey Sour recipe by Delish. Incredibly easy to make, the method involves cooking up a ginger simple syrup in a saucepan, before adding the mixture to a cocktail shaker with bourbon, lime juice and, perhaps unexpectedly, an egg white! (Don’t worry, it emulsifies with the alcohol, making it safe to consume).

Rosemary

cocktail with fresh rosemary, peppercorns and cucumber

Used in the right amounts, rosemary can add richness and depth to a beverage. Of course, being a ‘hard’ herb, its strong flavour means rosemary can overpower the other flavours too – making it one to be especially careful with.

That flavour profile makes rosemary especially ideal for citrus-infused gin drinks. One such example is this gin-based Rosemary Gimlet from chef David Lebovitz.

Chillies

While our green, leafy produce might be a more obvious option in alcoholic beverages, our chillies can lend a nifty kick to any cocktail.

As recipes go, one of the simplest and most effective we’ve found is this mango, chilli and lime margarita from Taste. Blending tequila and lime juice with peeled fresh mangoes, sugar and half a fresh long red chilli, it’s a wonderfully fruity concoction with a little extra spice. (Our tip: cut slits into leftover chillies and slide one over the side of each glass as an extra-colourful garnish!).

Or for something a little creamier, Jamie Oliver’s frosty-looking boozy Christmas lemonade might go down a treat at New Year. Amongst its ingredients is a green jalapeno chilli, and just the one alcoholic ingredient: white rum (or alternatively Cahaca). Take out the latter and you can turn this into a tasty mocktail instead!

And that’s just a taster

As you can see, there are a number of ways to use fresh herbs in drinks. The only limit really is how creative (or possibly daring!) you’re willing to be.

If we’ve whetted your appetite, don’t stop there! The Spruce Eat’s blog ‘Using Herbs and Spices in Cocktails’ is full of more ways to use herbs and ingredients in drinks. Give it a read and turn opening your drinks cabinet into an adventure for the taste buds!

Feeling inspired? Visit our produce page to get an idea of the different herbs and ingredients you could add to your concoctions. Or head to The Chopping Board for our very own herb-infused food recipes.

silhouette of men shaking hands in a field

What We Look For When Choosing Suppliers

What We Look For When Choosing Suppliers 1024 569 R&G Fresh

It’s one thing to say that we pride ourselves on the quality of the produce we supply. (And we really do!).

But we’re also so proud of the way we work, so thought it was about time we gave more context on what that actually means.

In this post, we pull back the curtain to give you more detail on what we look for when choosing fresh herb suppliers, and how that impacts the produce you buy and use.

Picking our pickers

From the farmer’s field to your chopping board, our freshly-cut herbs go on quite a journey before they make it into your menu. But before a single ingredient can be selected, we first need to pick the people who grow them.

At R&G FRESH, we scour the globe using five key criteria – all to bring you the best possible produce, from the most ethical and passionate people in our field.

Security of supply

Between weather patterns and the challenges of the global pandemic, in the last few years, unpredictable has become our new normal. But with international growers in Spain, Kenya, Jordan, Ethiopia and South Africa – alongside our UK operations – we’re able to overcome those challenges and deliver fresh, flavourful produce all year round.

As you can imagine, such an operation comes with challenges and complications. So in choosing suppliers, we weigh up:

  • Quality of crop factors like the type of soil they use and altitude of their farm
    Alongside…
  • Logistical and financial concerns like cost of labour and transport links.

Once we’ve chosen a supplier, we’ll also support them for mutual benefit. For instance, we partly funded solar panelling, heating and greenhouses for our Kenyan grower, allowing them to make the most of their unique growing conditions.

Minimum standard

We make sure that each farm we work with operates to a minimum quality standard.

In the UK, our suppliers must meet Red Tractor Assured Food Standards – a product certification programme that comprises farm assurance schemes for food products, animal feed and fertiliser.

Overseas, our suppliers follow the world’s most widely implemented farm certification scheme, GLOBALG.A.P. which regulates Good Agricultural Practice worldwide.

someone holding fresh mint in their hands

Additionally, we take a unique approach to packaging, bunching our produce head and tail so that everything is uniform. Not only is this unique amongst British suppliers, it’s done in a pack house which is both BRCGS food safety accredited, and Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) certified.

From South Africa to Spain and Kenya, to the UK, all of our suppliers work to the same standards, day in day out. That means our customers get the same product, grown, picked and packed to the same high standard, no matter where it came from.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

We are committed to ethical trading, and we only work with suppliers who are able and willing to treat their workforce in the kindest and fairest way possible.

We insist that all of our suppliers be registered with Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trading service providers, and work to the standards of the ETI – who themselves follow the remit of the International Labour Organization.

This means that even in countries where laws designed to protect workers’ rights are either inadequate or not enforced, our suppliers still follow best practice on areas like:

  • Wages
  • Working hours
  • Health and safety
  • And the right to join trade unions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we delivered fresh food baskets to our in-house staff, making sure our people felt cared for during a time of great uncertainty.

Taking our lead, our suppliers followed suit, going above and beyond to make sure their workers were looked after. Many subsidised their employees food and drink, and some even had a specialist nurse offering free on site health checks and treatment.

We’re incredibly proud of our ethical standards – and we wholeheartedly believe they make for the best possible product on your plate.

many people holding a plant in their hands

Sustainability

We’re committed to sustainability, and go to great lengths to make sure our suppliers are too.

When picking a supplier, we visit their farm to make sure they meet a minimum environmental standard. In broad terms, this means that they work with the land, enhancing it rather than damaging it. At setup, we offer guidance on aspects like efficient use of water and fertiliser, and if needed connect them to experts in the field in order to solve challenges they face in the most sustainable way possible.

But that’s just the beginning. We also visit our suppliers regularly – not to conduct formal audits, but to see how they are and how we can best support them. We see these bonds as a partnership – and because of our approach, they tend to last. In fact, a quarter of our current growers have been with us for over 20 years!

We also outsource most of our production process to our growers, with 90% of our product arriving from them pre-bunched. That means we spend less on waste disposal, and pay our suppliers more instead – allowing them to pay their workers higher wages, and making our overall supply chain better for the environment.

From proven long-term working relationships to an extreme focus on being environmentally friendly, we’re incredibly proud of our approach to sustainability, and will always keep that long-term outlook in mind when working with new suppliers.

Service

At the time of writing, all of our growers have been with us for at least five years. Because each follows the four criteria above, that’s translated to an incredibly high level of operational efficiency, with our current service level sitting at 99.4%. That means our buyers and customers alike can trust us implicitly to delivers on time, and to the highest standards.

We never want to compromise on that – so as our business grows, we’ll always consider our level of service as a factor when deciding on suppliers.

Want to know more about what we look for when choosing fresh organic herb suppliers? Visit this page, or get in touch with us for more information.

Want to know more about what we look for when choosing fresh organic herb suppliers? Visit this page, or get in touch with us for more information.

Two wild boar marinated steaks with fresh herbs

When Should You Add Herbs to Your Cooking?

When Should You Add Herbs to Your Cooking? 1024 569 R&G Fresh

Using herbs in your cooking is a great way of enhancing the flavour of your food, but do you know how and when to use them?

Here’s a quick guide that explains everything you need to know about cooking with herbs!

How to cook with herbs

Before we explain the best way to cook with herbs, we first have to understand the difference between the two variations:

Woody herbs tend to have tougher leaves while soft herbs have thin, fragile leaves. Due to this difference, you need to add them to your meals at different times.

As well as this, both woody and tender herbs can be used fresh, dried or frozen, which also plays a part in when you should add them to your dish.

When to add fresh herbs to your cooking

Soft herbs

Tender herbs, as we explained earlier, have soft stems and delicate leaves. As a result, whilst they impart robust flavours initially, the intensity can diminish with prolonged cooking.

For this reason, you should add soft herbs towards the end of the process, where they can deliver maximum flavour that doesn’t diminish due to heat damage.

Spicy pumpkin soup puree with ginger and herbs

Woody herbs

As mentioned before, woody herbs have tougher leaves and woody stems, so are much more robust. They are generally added during the cooking process and removed once the dish is ready. The heat helps the cells in the leaves to break down, so the fragrant oils can start interacting as the food cooks.

When to add frozen herbs to your cooking

Freezing herbs when they’re fresh is a great way to preserve them for future use. You can freeze them in oil, water or simply in the bag they came in.

Frozen woody herbs can be added early on in the cooking process, giving them plenty of time to thaw and infuse the dish.

Frozen soft herbs will defrost quicker, so you should add them a minute or so before you finish cooking, giving them time to warm up but not so much that it affects their flavour.

When to add herbs to uncooked dishes

Herbs can be used raw to enhance the taste of anything, including drinks, desserts and salads.

Salads, in particular, can be transformed from an ordinary plate of greens to something that smells and tastes delicious just by adding herbs.

If you are planning to use herbs at room temperature or served cold, you can add them as you prepare the dish.

Traditional Italian Pasta salad with herbs

If you’re a first-time herb user, you may find yourself worried about making mistakes, but don’t worry. Experimenting and learning is just part of the fun! The more you use them, the better your food will taste and you’ll get better with pairing different flavours together.

If you’re wondering which herbs to experiment with next, take a look at Our Produce section for inspiration. We also offer a selection of chillies and other ingredients to enhance your cooking, which may also get your creative juices flowing.

Do you have any questions about any of our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please do get in touch with us and we will answer them for you.

fresh cut chives and mint

How to Store Your Fresh Cut Herbs & Ingredients So They Last Longer

How to Store Your Fresh Cut Herbs & Ingredients So They Last Longer 1024 569 R&G Fresh

The lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affected many aspects of our lives.

One change was that people started experimenting with new recipes, some of which included fresh herbs, as was evidenced by the herb sales surge reported by Waitrose.

At R&G FRESH, we are passionate about encouraging people to use more fresh herbs and ingredients in cooking, so we are excited about this trend. However, we are also aware that you as a consumer want to make the most out of your purchase too.

That’s why we decided to offer our advice and expertise on how to store your fresh cut herbs and ingredients so they last longer.

Different types of fresh herbs

Before we talk about how to store fresh cut herbs, it’s important to understand the difference between hard herbs and soft herbs. The reason why this distinction is important is because the two types ‘behave’ quite differently from each other.

Understanding this difference allows us to treat them the right way, helping to prolong their freshness.

Soft herbs

bunch of basil and dill herbs

Soft, or tender, herbs have fleshy, delicate stems and a strong flavour that loses its intensity upon cooking, which is why these herbs are usually added at the end of the cooking process. Some examples of soft herbs are:

  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lovage
  • Marjoram
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon

Since they are quite fragile, they need to be treated differently from hard herbs.

Woody herbs

fresh cut hard herbs sage, rosemary and thyme

Hard, or woody, herbs are sturdier than their soft counterparts and are added to a dish during the cooking process, where they slowly release their flavour. Usually grown in warmer climates, these herbs have woody stems and tougher leaves that are resistant to moisture loss. As a result, they keep for much longer.

Woody herbs include:

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lime leaves
  • Lemongrass
  • Curry leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Lemon thyme

What are the factors that affect herb freshness?

Fresh herbs are still respiring after being harvested and as such, need certain conditions in which to thrive. When they were a part of a plant, they could manage their own conditions and remain healthy.

Here are the factors that affect herb freshness.

Light

Whilst plants need light for photosynthesis, fresh-cut herbs actually don’t require light. In fact, exposure to bright light can turn their leaves yellow as it damages the chlorophyll (the green pigment that is responsible for photosynthesis).

Oxygen

Again, while almost all living entities require oxygen, most cut herbs start turning brown if they are exposed to too much air.

Moisture

All fresh-cut herbs require an optimum amount of moisture to remain fresh. Too little and they start drying, but too much and they start rotting.

Temperature

Temperature plays a significant role in ensuring herb freshness. Too warm, and the metabolic rate goes up and the herbs start deteriorating at a faster rate. Too cold, and the water inside the cells freezes and damages the cell walls, leading to your fresh herbs becoming mushy.

The best temperature to store fresh herbs is 3° C to 5° C This is the temperature range inside refrigerators, making them the ideal place to keep your fresh produce.

With these factors in mind, here are our recommendations on how to store your fresh cut herbs so they last longer.

The best way to store fresh cut herbs

In the fridge

If you’re storing woody herbs in the fridge try to keep them in their original packaging, or in an airtight container.

As with woody herbs, soft herbs should be kept in their original packaging until they are needed. Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

The only exception here is basil, whose leaves start discolouring if the temperature is low. It should be kept out of the fridge, at room temperature, where it gets light but not direct sunlight.

Using these methods, you can store your fresh herbs for up to two weeks.

In the freezer

chopped up fresh herbs in ice cube tray

When using herbs as garnish, you want them looking fresh and beautiful so keeping them in the fridge is best. However, if they are going to be used in cooking, you want to preserve their flavour more than their appearance.

If that is the case, you can freeze any leftovers you may have.

To do that, simply remove them from their packaging, chop them, and put them in ice trays. You can pack in the chopped leaves alone or top them up with a flavourless oil (like sunflower oil) or water. Once frozen into cubes, you can pop them out of the tray and store them in freezer bags.

Out of the three options, you’ll get the best flavour if you use oil. However, you can freeze your herbs for weeks, if not months by placing them in a plastic bag.

Simply take out as many herb cubes as you need for the recipe and add to the dish as it cooks. The heat will melt the frozen cube, releasing the herb’s flavour into your food.

How to store fresh ingredients so they last longer

In addition to herbs, we offer a range of other ingredients that help you take your cooking to the next level. Here’s how to store some of them so they last longer.

Chillies

Freezing chillies is a great option. They defrost rapidly so can be used as fresh. To store chillies, take them out of their packaging and remove the stem and the ‘cap’ that joins it to the body, as this is where they start growing mouldy. These can then be stored in a container lined with a kitchen towel.

Root ginger

The best way to store root ginger is in the refrigerator without cutting it up. The skin of this rhizome keeps moisture in, allowing it to last for around three weeks.

If you want to store it for longer, you can freeze the root whole or mince it first. When freezing it whole, leave the skin on and put it in a freezer bag. You can then take it out when you need it and grate what you need without thawing it.

You can also mince or grate the ginger to get a paste, which you can portion out into an ice tray without any additional water or oil needed. Once frozen, the cubes can be transferred into a freezer bag and you can simply take out as many cubes as you need in your cooking.

Turmeric root

Whilst most commonly used as a dried powder, turmeric root has a much fresher flavour and will impart that same golden colour to the dish.

Like root ginger, it can be stored in the fridge or freezer after you’ve washed it well and dried it thoroughly. Since moisture leads to mould, drying it well is important. It also helps if you wrap it loosely in a kitchen towel and then put it in a bag before it goes into the fridge.

To freeze it, cut up the root into portion-sized chunks and put in a freezer bag. Squeeze out the excess air from the bag before sealing and freeze.

When you need it for a recipe, you can take out exactly as much as you need, without having to thaw the entire quantity.

Padrón peppers

Padrón peppers are also called ‘Spanish Roulette’ as most of them are sweet, but once in a while, you get one that is hot! These peppers can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag and best kept in the vegetable drawer.

Edible flowers

Edible flowers are very delicate, and normally don’t last more than two or three days. However, you can keep them for up to a week if you keep them on a damp paper towel inside a container in the fridge.

As you can see, storing fresh herbs and ingredients is quite easy. If done properly, you can enjoy their delicious flavour for several weeks.

If you’re interested in trying out different ingredients in your kitchen, our range of fresh produce might inspire you. For any questions you may have, please do get in touch.

field of basil - how we work with our customers

How We Work with Our Wholesale and Retail Customers

How We Work with Our Wholesale and Retail Customers 1500 833 R&G Fresh

At R&G FRESH, we believe in standing out from the crowd in everything we do.

Our wholesale and retail customers can expect exceptional service and industry-leading fresh produce time after time.

Maintaining this level of excellence requires continual investment, so we work hard building and maintaining both our standards and our relationships. Here is how we ensure that all our wholesale and retail customers get the most out of their relationship with us.

Customer, consumer and behaviour insights

Our consumer insights strategy is built on 60 years of experience and extensive market research. This work gives us an advantage when it comes to understanding what consumers want, their cooking habits and shopping behaviour. This knowledge allows us to create specific growth plans for our wholesale and retail customers, taking into consideration their market, store type, customer profile and purchasing habits.

As a result, when we work with our wholesale and retail customers, we are able to provide them with a totally bespoke service, tailored to their target customer profile(s) and behaviour.

Bunches of herbs on a wooden chopping board - we provide bespoke service to our wholesale and retail customers

Freshness sealed

We have great knowledge of our products and know how flavour is affected by quality and freshness. Based on this knowledge, we are continually investing in developing the best way of keeping our herbs and ingredients as fresh as the day they were picked.

The result of this ongoing research is our passive Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) format used across our entire range, specific by line, to give greater shelf-life.

MAP is customised to the metabolism of the herb or ingredient, tailored to make each item last longer. It relies on micro-perforations in the bag, allowing the produce to ‘breathe’. The packaging considers the difference in metabolism during summer and winter too.

We have also optimised the amount of packaging we use, reducing it wherever possible. As a result, we use 16% less packaging than we did five years ago.

Optimising at the source

As part of our ongoing effort to provide premium fresh herbs and ingredients, we have invested in organoleptic testing to understand flavour profiles of herb varieties. Herb flavour is determined by the amount of aromatic oils contained within. Soil quality, weather and temperature all affect this and with this understanding, we work closely with our suppliers to ensure the end user has the best possible product all year round.

Once we find the right suppliers, we invest in them. For example, we’ve been working closely with our Basil growers since mid-2000, enabling them to increase their basil yields and adding value to their processes.

As a result, not only do we maintain excellent product quality, we also make sure that our growers are well remunerated and supported to ensure sustainability.

Harvesting basil - We ensure excellent product quality for our customers

Waste reduction is one of our key priorities as part of our commitment to the environment. Not only to do we strive to reduce packaging, but we also make sure we aren’t wasting produce.

Product that is out of specification means that we have to invest time and effort correcting the discrepancies in quantities, which can prove wasteful. Working with customers at every step of the way, we programme and forecast requirements so that we don’t overorder or transport waste. By making sure the product is the right specification at the time of order, we can use the majority of what we purchase.

We can proudly say we sell 96% of all the raw produce we buy through our sustainable sourcing strategy and as a result, our customers can be assured of our focus on environmental issues.

When you work with R&G FRESH, you get market-leading, fresh produce that is sourced and packed with a focus on the end-user and the environment.

If you’d like to learn more about how we work with our buyers, you can read about it on this page. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us for more information.

Taking Care of Our Staff During COVID-19

Taking Care of Our Staff During COVID-19 1024 569 R&G Fresh

At R&G FRESH, we are committed to providing our employees with a workplace in which they can flourish.

We invest in their training and development so they can grow professionally. Additionally, we encourage an open and honest environment so everyone has a voice and is heard.

However, employee welfare is not just about taking care of their professional needs. We also take care of their health and well-being at all times, but more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did we support staff well-being during COVID-19?

When we first heard about the new pandemic, we reviewed our working practises to make sure they abided by the Government guidelines. More importantly, we adapted them to ensure that our staff stayed safe and healthy at all times.

Here’s how we supported staff well-being during COVID-19.

A complete risk assessment

Our first step was identifying all possible areas of risk and creating systems and procedures to safeguard against them. We looked for ways to support our employees during COVID-19 and this included ensuring that we minimised chances of virus transmission.

Social distancing

We encouraged employees who could work from home to do so until the end of August. Any non-essential visits to and from the site were put on hold.

We set up portable toilet facilities so external drivers didn’t have to enter the building. Furthermore, we held all meetings online, using Microsoft Teams.

If a meeting couldn’t be held virtually, we made sure the meeting room was well-ventilated and everyone maintained a 2-metre distance.

Monitoring and reporting symptoms

Line managers were instructed to maintain regular contact with the staff members. They were equipped with thermometers and if anyone showed any signs of COVID-19, as specified by the NHS, they were to be sent home to self-isolate until they had passed the quarantine duration or tested negative for Covid-19.

If an infection was confirmed through testing, the management team was instructed to contact the Public Health Authority and help them identify those who may have come in contact with the person.

These measures were designed to keep every one of our people safe from the infection whilst they were at work.

Increasing awareness

In order to remind people of the steps to take for their own welfare, we placed posters in strategic positions. These displayed advice for the food industry and ensured staff and visitors were aware of how to prevent infection.

For even more comprehensive awareness training, we held regular briefings to remind our employees of the importance of social distancing and hand washing.

Additionally, we ensured our staff had facilities to wash their hands with soap and water regularly. Where this was not possible, we provided hand sanitisers.

Finally, we provided them with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that was to be worn as standard, including gloves, overalls, hairnets and aprons.

Environmental hygiene

To reduce the need to touch surfaces, we left all possible doors propped open. On top of that, we increased how often frequently-touched points were cleaned and disinfected.

We also started a monthly antiviral bio-misting in all shared areas and offices in an attempt to disinfect all possible surfaces and any airborne aerosol particles.

Changes in procedures

In order to ensure a contactless way of working, we revised a number of procedures. If employees could eat in their cars at lunch, we encouraged this to avoid overpopulating the canteen. For work areas where social distancing was difficult, we re-oriented workbenches so employees could stand side by side rather than facing each other.

At the end of the day, factory staff were instructed to leave in small groups so locker rooms and exits weren’t overcrowded.

Essential boxes for our staff on site

We also took some additional employee welfare measures for COVID-19 that supported their mental health along with the physical protection we were providing.

When we entered the lockdown, the whole structure of foodservice and hospitality changed dramatically. Hospitality, in particular, was devastated by restaurants and bars being closed and events and travel being cancelled.

The wholesale markets across the UK, as well as the rest of the world, had to adapt. Due to this, New Covent Garden Market in London saw a dramatic shift in operations, with many tenants switching to deliveries direct to the public.

We are quite proud of our staff, as they worked diligently to maintain a supply of fresh herbs and ingredients to our suppliers. In order to show our appreciation for their hard work, we provided them with essential boxes of their own.

Within a week of the lockdown, all our on-site staff had received a box of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the following week, they received a box of essential grocery items, including milk, bread, eggs and butter. This continued for two months until shopping items became more accessible.

With this token of appreciation, we aimed to communicate to our staff just how much their hard work meant to the company and that their welfare mattered to us.

Whilst the lockdown has been an uncertain time, we ensured that our staff were supported throughout. When the lockdown is lifted, we plan to emerge stronger than ever and continue to deliver excellence, like we’ve been doing for over five decades.

If you’d like to learn more about the team at R&G FRESH, you can do so here. For additional information, whether about our COVID-19 measures or our fresh produce, get in touch with us.

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours 1024 569 R&G Fresh

When the lockdown was announced, consumers had to adapt to a different way of shopping and cooking. With that in mind, we take a look at the impact COVID-19 has had on shopping behaviours so far.

Lockdown began on the 23rd March 2020 and shopping habits changed rapidly as panic buying across the country saw customers switch from fresh, to dried, frozen or ambient.

Shopping days (and time of day) changed as people were furloughed and retailers had to enforce restrictions on how many people could shop safely in store at any given time. Consumers started to shop at the start of the week and earlier in the day, which became the ‘new normal’, rather than at weekends.

During this period, customers found their inner chef and more families ate together in the evenings. People started to be more creative, using online recipes and getting inspiration via their store cupboard ingredients.

Home baking became the new trend, along with batch cooking and scratch cooking becoming more popular. These are set to continue as lockdown eases.

With this inspiration of uses, preparation of products and not wasting any leftover food, fresh-cut herbs sales saw an increase. Some of which was driven by consumers enjoying low, slow cooking for BBQ’s, making marinades, pesto and other sauces.

Although beers, wines and spirits have seen significant uplift over this period there was a particular interest in low or non-alcoholic cocktails too. These, coupled with old faithful herbs such as thyme, rosemary and bay provided a depth of flavour. Plus, by using the more fragrant herbs such as basil and mint an amazing freshness can be added to any mocktail.

Online sales crashed for several retailers during the initial months of the pandemic and convenience stores became the go-to for customers needing to pick up their local groceries where shelves were well stocked. Larger retailers struggled with demand and as we saw in the news, shelves were empty. This did increase sales, giving local stores significant growth.

As the situation eased, with more people returning to work and online slot availability considerably improved across retailers, customers continue to do one big shop a week with a small top-up from local shops.

This is starting to slow down now that more fast food outlets are starting to open and the appeal to eat out after lockdown has seen a rise in footfall to restaurants.

Traditional shopping habits are slowly returning to normal. The change, however, is gradual with online and ‘click and collect’ services having the largest growth over these unprecedented times. This is set to continue as the ‘new normal’ preferred way to shop.

Want to speak to us about stocking our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please contact us for more information.

Lemon Thyme Drizzle Cake

Lemon Thyme Drizzle Cake 1500 833 R&G Fresh

Preparation Time

35-40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 115g butter, softened
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 170g self-raising flour, sifted
  • A pinch of salt
  • For the icing
  • 2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 lemon

For decoration:

  • A few sprigs of lemon thyme with flowers, if available

How to make

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 450g loaf tin, line the base and ends with a strip of baking paper and lightly grease.

2) Make sure the lemon thyme leaves are dry before you chop them. Place in a food processor with the caster sugar and whizz until the sugar turns green and the leaves have been finely chopped.

3) Add the butter and lemon zest and whizz until fluffy, then gradually add the eggs. Mix in 1 tbsp lemon juice, then scrape into a bowl and fold in the flour and salt.

4) Spoon into the loaf tin. Bake for 20 minutes, then loosely cover the top with foil if it is browning too quickly and bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden. Test by inserting a skewer into the cake; if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

5) To make the icing, stir the finely chopped lemon thyme into the icing sugar and add enough lemon juice to form a thick icing.

6) While it’s still in the tin, transfer the cake to a wire rack. Leave for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and spoon the icing over the top of the warm cake. It will drizzle down the sides. Leave to cool. Shortly before serving, decorate with the sprigs of lemon thyme.

HEAD OFFICE

7 Chancerygate Way, Hawley Lane
Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 8FF

Tel: +44 (0)1483 474041
Fax: +44 (0)1483 476371
E-mail: info@rgfresh.co.uk

COVENT GARDEN

Stand C65 Buyers Walk, The Pavilion
New Covent Garden Market London SW8 5DZ

Tel: +44 (0)20 7720 6990
Fax: +44 (0)20 7720 6990
E-mail: info@rgfresh.co.uk

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