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The ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter

The Ultimate Herb-Filled Food Picnic Platter

The Ultimate Herb-Filled Food Picnic Platter 1024 569 R&G Fresh

With National Picnic Week happening from 19th-27th June, we decided to help you elevate your picnic with fresh herb recipes the whole family will love!

Read on to learn about the fresh herbs to make your picnic better – and discover the recipes we reckon might make up the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter.

Fennel and sage pork pies

Image credit: Sorted Club

You can’t go wrong with the humble pork pie – and we think this recipe from Sorted Club offers one of the very best herb-filled foods for a picnic.

Packed with pork belly and pork shoulder alongside echalion shallots, plus the titular fennel seeds and sage herbs, it also includes a sharp cider jelly and hot water crust pastry for a mouth-watering picnic treat!

Sage and onion sausage rolls

Sage and onion sausage rolls

Image Credit: Cookipedia

These sage and onion sausage rolls from the wonderfully named Cookipedia are called a Christmas favourite over on their website – but we say they’d be ideal for the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter!

Just two teaspoons of finely chopped fresh sage brings a real richness to a recipe that also jams in sausage meat, chopped onions and poppy seeds into a fantastically flaky puff pastry casing.

Garlic and herb cream cheese

garlic and herb cream cheese

Image credit: allrecipes

You can’t have a picnic without a little bit of cheese (or a vegan alternative!) – and we’re especially big fans of a creamy one that’s equally suited for spreading or dipping.

That’s why we’ve picked this garlic and herb cream cheese from allrecipes for our ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter. The herbs included are dried dill weed, oregano, basil and thyme – all of which you can dry in a variety of ways.

With butter, cream cheese and parmesan all in there too, it’s probably not one for anyone on a health kick, or those avoiding dairy. However, this cashew cream-based vegan option from Minimalist Baker makes for a very tasty alternative!

Quinoa cucumber salad with feta, dill and mint

Quinoa cucumber salad with feta, dill and mint

Image credit: The Bojon Gourmet

No picnic would be complete without some leaves, and this quick fresh salad recipe by The Bojon Gourmet is one you and your picnic pals won’t want to leave alone until every last bit is gone!

The cucumbers and radishes give it a really satisfying crunch, while the feta gives it a creamy edge that’s perfectly complemented by a dressing made from garlic, olive oil, lemon, and vinegar. However, it’s the dill and mint we really love, adding a freshness and earthiness that’s rare, even for a homemade salad! Definitely two of our favourite fresh herbs to make your picnic better.

Cheesy ham and herb quiche

Image credit: Homemade in the Kitchen

Rosemary, thyme and parsley play a starring role in this summery quiche recipe from Homemade in the Kitchen. The blog’s author Carla says “the addition of fresh herbs paired with the saltiness of the ham really kicks the flavour up a notch” – and having tried it out for ourselves, we completely agree!

It’s definitely one of our best herb-filled foods for a picnic. Give it a try yourself; we’re sure you’ll think so too!

Rosemary-infused chocolate mousse

Rosemary-infused chocolate mousse

Image credit: The Flavour Bender

Like with any big meal, it’s always nice to finish with something sweet. And this rosemary-infused chocolate dessert from The Flavour Bender is a rich and delicious little bit of luxury that’s easily amongst the best herb-filled food for a picnic.

The rosemary adds an earthiness that’s unusual for a mousse, and really does balance out the sweetness of the chocolate – just as the recipe says. The best bit though is you can change up the amounts and types of chocolate you use, giving each batch you make a bit of a different flavour.

Being a mousse, you can place this dessert in ramekins or small Tupperware pots and whip them out to surprise guests at the end of your picnic. We’re sure they’ll love it – as long as they have room left by that point!

Happy picnicking!

So that’s our six tantalising recipes that make up the ultimate herb-filled food picnic platter for National Picnic Week and beyond. Which one are you most excited to try? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more tasty ways to use fresh herbs in your cooking? Head on over to The Chopping Board.

Steak and rosemary - a classic combination!

BBQing with Fresh Herbs: Our Top Tasty Combinations

BBQing with Fresh Herbs: Our Top Tasty Combinations 1024 569 R&G Fresh

Barbecue season is finally upon us – though you might not know it from the UK weather in recent weeks! Hopefully the sun comes out to play soon and you can enjoy trying out the recipes we’ve featured below.

Here at R&G FRESH, we think fresh herbs can really up your BBQing game, creating a mix of wonderful flavours that are sure to impress family and friends alike.

So, to give you some summer grilling inspiration, we’ve collected ideas for what we think are the best herbs for a BBQ and how to use them.

Grilling with fresh herbs

One of our favourite herbs for grilling is rosemary. It has intense flavour and stands up well to the rigours of a high-heat grill. As it’s so robust, rosemary can also be used when smoking – just add whole stems to your smoker.

One great example of grilling with fresh herbs are these steak and rosemary skewers by My Garden Life. Simply remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the rosemary stems, then, skewer the cubed meat and any vegetables you fancy adding to the mix. Finally, brush the kebabs with a marinade or olive oil and season with salt and pepper

steak and rosemary skewers

Image Credit: My Garden Life

BBQ cooking tends to lean toward strong-flavoured meats and fish, so you might also like to try cooking with thyme. It can add its own punchy flavour to the mix, making it easily one of the best herbs for a BBQ (in our opinion!).

An excellent grilling recipe involving fresh thyme is this grilled whole fish with lemon. The mix of flavours here makes for something much more interesting than your standard burger and sausages!

Making dry rubs with fresh herbs

If you’re wondering how a BBQ with fresh herbs can be even better, a rub could be just what you’re looking for!

Making a fresh herb dry rub for your next BBQ can add a whole new dimension to the flavour of your meats and fish. The fresh herbs you use can be down to personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is:

  • Rosemary, parsley, sage or basil go well with beef
  • Tarragon, basil, oregano and coriander go nicely with chicken
  • Sage, rosemary and thyme are great with pork
  • Oregano, thyme, fennel or dill is terrific with grilled fish.

Making a dry rub is fairly simple. Start by combining the finely chopped fresh herbs in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Then rub the mixture on both sides of your chosen meat or fish, cover it up, and leave it to marinate for at least an hour.

marinaded chicken

Fresh herbs with grilled veg

Fresh herbs don’t just go well with meat and fish; they also work amazingly with veggies! Especially when added to the dish toward the end of the cooking process or just after removing the vegetables from the grill.

A few ways you can add fresh herbs to your vegetables include:

  • Tomatoes can be accented with; basil, bay leaves, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme
  • Carrots go well with bay leaves, chives, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, tarragon and thyme
  • Sweetcorn can be enhanced with: dill, marjoram, parsley or thyme.

We especially love this veggie kebab recipe from All Recipes. They’re made with mushrooms, onion, red peppers and green peppers, along with fresh thyme and fresh rosemary.

veggie skewers

You can make them by threading the vegetables onto a skewer, alternating them as you go along. Once the skewers are prepped, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then brush the mushrooms and peppers with the mixture.

After that, just place the skewers on the BBQ and cook until the mushrooms are tender and cooked through!

(We added some extras to our skewers. What would you add?)

Feeling inspired to get the grill going?

So that’s our blog on how to BBQ with fresh herbs! Have we inspired you to try some new recipes for any barbecues you have this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

For more of our recipes, check out The Chopping Board.

From food waste to new food

Why Stopping Food Waste Matters

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28th April 2021 is Stop Food Waste Day – so we felt it timely to look at the serious (and growing!) problem of food waste and what we can all do about it.

Understanding food loss and waste

According to FareShare, the UK food industry alone wastes 3.6 million tonnes of food each year – 2 million of which is still edible at the time it’s thrown out. That’s enough for around 1.3 billion meals.

Even taken in isolation, those numbers are staggering. But when you consider that over 8 million people in the UK struggle to eat each year, and that food bank usage hit an all-time high during the global pandemic, there are clearly some big reasons why food waste prevention matters.

Why does food waste happen?

Food waste happens at every stage of the supply chain.

Fareshare’s numbers indicate that around 2 million tonnes of waste occurs at the farming stage alone, with food that’s spilled, spoiled stored incorrectly or packed poorly.

Processing and manufacturing is the next largest area for improvement, with up to 160,000 tonnes of lost food that’s fit for human consumption. Distribution channels can account for up to 120,000 tonnes, and unsold retail produce for around 110,000 tonnes of food that could have fed hungry mouths.

Humanitarian concerns aside, however, food waste also contributes heavily to climate change, with the World Wildlife Fund estimating 11% of all food system greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided by successfully tackling the problem of food wastage.

Solving the problem of food waste

Food waste pile

At R&G Fresh we make sure our suppliers work responsibly with the land to nurture the soil and the immediate environment rather than damaging it.

Our growers also pre-bunch 90% of the produce they pick before shipping it to us, meaning we minimise waste as much as possible.

That all happens because everyone in our business is committed to a sustainable way of working. We really do believe that these things start from a value system that favours sustainability.

Aside from a fundamental culture shift, however, there are certain things companies and individuals can do to solve the problem of food waste.

Corporate food waste

This post by Supply Chain Digital offers three things businesses can look at to address food waste. In short, they are:

1.     Improve visibility across the supply chain

For companies to reduce food waste, they first need to analyse the different stages of their process to get a real sense of how it’s working, and what needs to change.

2.     Make intelligent changes

There are many kinds of changes food companies could make depending on their findings at stage one. They include:

  • Improving product forecasting and ordering less inventory
  • Reviewing their distribution process and partners
  • Taking a keen eye to transportation choices and combining fleet journeys

3.     Increase efficiencies and work together better

If stage one above was ‘figure out what to do’ and stage two was ‘do it’, stage three is to continually iterate on and improve those processes – while recognising that communication and transparency with other businesses are critical to making it happen.

At R&G Fresh, we regularly visit our growers to make sure we’re aware of the challenges they’re facing, and are on-hand to offer our resources and support. We believe it’s the right way to operate, and the companies we work with think that way too.

Additionally, there is also the simple act of donating food rather than throwing it away. More than 100 UK supermarkets have pledged to reduce food waste by half by 2030, and each of them donating to the food banks we mentioned earlier will go a long way to addressing the problem’s human impact.

Personal food waste

Full kitchen food waste bin

So far, we’ve explained why stopping food waste matters and some of the steps companies can take towards solving the problem of food waste.

However, according to Friends of the Earth, there are many steps we can all take as individuals to stop food waste, each and every day.

They include:

How will you do your bit to prevent food waste?

Whether you’re reading this from a food industry perspective, or looking at things as an individual, we hope we’ve gotten across why reducing food waste is important.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit the Stop Food Waste Day website and join the virtual event on 28th April.

Woman enjoying the aroma of fresh herbs outside

Happy Herbs: Plants with Mood-Boosting Properties

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Did you know that planted snugly in the calendar each March is International Day of Happiness? It’s a day when everyone is officially encouraged to “find positive ways to look after ourselves and each other.”

That got us thinking about all the times we’ve turned to fresh herbs and plants to help us relax, smile, and spread a little joy in our lives.

We don’t just mean using herbs in cooking – though our produce is definitely great for that! Instead, we’ll be looking here at the best plants to boost your mood and how you can use them to do just that.

Herbs with mood-boosting properties

The International Day of Happiness website gives three positive steps we can all take when facing difficult times: keep calm, stay wise, and be kind.

With that in mind, we’ve sorted the plant suggestions below to help you do all three!

bottle of lemongrass oil and fresh lemongrass

Keep calm

There are many things in life we can’t control, but the way we respond to stressful situations is something we can.

One thing you might like to try in high-stress circumstances is brewing a cup of thyme tea. Thyme contains a compound called carvacrol which naturally calms and supports your nervous system. That makes sipping a thyme tea in the office, or at bedtime after a long day, both equally good ideas. You can find a great recipe here.

Another of the best plants to boost your mood is lemongrass. You can use it to make lemongrass oil, which has a fresh, citrusy scent that’s both clean and calming, helping to relieve irritability, prevent drowsiness, and even relax muscles when rubbed onto the skin. Best of all, it’s also really simple to make your own lemongrass oil. There are lots of recipes out there, but we found this one from Times of India simple to follow and highly effective.

Fresh Thyme on a plate

Stay wise

There’s a famous quote by Shakespeare that says “Rosemary is for remembrance.” That’s backed up by a study by the Department of Psychology at Northumbria University, which found that rosemary can boost memory in people aged 65 and over by up to 15%.

Whether you opt for a live rosemary plant or a fresh rosemary diffuser, there are many wonderful ways to disseminate this memory-boosting plant’s woody, evergreen scent. You can even mix it with other herbs to create your own special blend of diffuser oils!

Fresh mint tea in glass

Be kind

That same study from Northumbria University also found that mint tea enhances both mood and cognition. That means you’ll be both happier and more alert after a cup or two, and better able to remember things like birthdays and anniversaries thanks to mint’s proven boost to long-term memory.

There are nearly endless numbers of mint tea recipes out there, but we like this rather simple one from BBC Good Food. We’re sure you’ll like it too.

The last of our plants with mood-boosting properties meanwhile is fresh root ginger. It’s packed with vitamin B6, which boosts energy levels, and magnesium, which can help to ward off depression. Ginger has even been known to settle an upset stomach! All of which makes it one of the best things for someone who’s feeling fatigued, a little down in the dumps, or simply somewhat under the weather.

Ginger is an incredibly versatile plant and lends itself surprisingly well to a calming herbal tea. We especially enjoy this recipe from Taste of Home, which you’ll need to brew in a slow cooker over two to three hours.

Which herbs help your mood?

So that’s our blog inspired by this month’s International Day of Happiness: five herbs and other plants with mood-boosting properties. Are there any we might have mentioned? And how do you prefer to use them? Let us know in the comments below.

To find out more about using our herbs and ingredients in all sorts of creative ways, visit our fresh produce page or take a look at our blog, The Chopping Board.

chopping board with cooking ingredients around it

Veganuary: Using Herbs in Vegan Recipes

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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

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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

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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.

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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