Three North Wales food producers have come together to create the first commercially-available Welsh-made pesto for home cooks.
Calon Lân and Blodyn Aur are working with Anglesey-based Plas Farm on the new sauces, which are already proving popular with shoppers.
Calon Lân Basil Pesto and Calon Lan Sundried Tomato Pesto are made at Plas Farm’s production base at Gaerwen using Blodyn Aur extra-virgin oil – the only rapeseed oil grown, cold-pressed and bottled in Wales.
Agri-food consultant Geraint Hughes heads up Calon Lân, based in Pwllheli, which specialises in small-batch hand-made Welsh condiments and preserves using traditional recipes. The company is named after the famous Welsh hymn that’s synonymous with the nation’s rugby team and reflects the song’s chorus – “a pure heart full of goodness”.
Geraint said: “We’re excited about the two new pestos, which we believe are the first commercial Welsh pestos for home cooks on the market.
“Products containing the Blodyn Aur rapeseed oil have rapidly earned themselves a deserved reputation for versatility and excellence and we firmly believe we’ll see an increase in sales thanks to our two new products.
“We already sell around 2,000 jars a month of our condiments and plan to increase sales during 2018 with new products, such as the pesto.
“We couldn’t have found a more perfect fit than Plas Farm for handling the production side of things. Like us they have an absolute passion for creating the very finest Welsh foods.”
Calon Lân condiments include redcurrant jelly, red mustard, raspberry preserve, Scotch Bonnet chilli jam, cranberry sauce, strawberry preserve, onion marmalade, apricot preserve, hot Thai chutney, apple chutney, horseradish sauce, lemon curd, mint sauce, Bramley apple sauce, rhubarb and ginger preserve, ale chutney, beetroot chutney and damson jam, plus mincemeat with brandy.
The Calon Lân range is sold at independent retailers, farm shops and delicatessens, with larger sizes available for the culinary and hospitality trade.
Plas Farm was founded by David Williams in 1986 at his family farm at Llanfaelog, later moving to a purpose-built facility near Gaerwen, and initially made yoghurt and ice-cream before branching out into other food production. Its commitment to creative product development earned the company Royal recognition when it won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Excellence in International Trade.
Plas Farm director Rhian Williams – David’s daughter – said: “We have experience of successfully making products for other companies going back over 10 years.
“We are very pleased to be working with Calon Lân and Blodyn Aur to produce the new Calon Lan pestos because, like us, they have products with a strong North Wales provenance.
“The pestos are a substantial commitment for us and are being produced by our chill team of five. Taking on these new products will enable to keep them busy throughout the whole year.”
Launched in 2010, Blodyn Aur is run by farmers and friends Llŷr Jones, Bryn Jones and Medwyn Roberts. Together they have set up a modern oil-pressing facility on Llyr’s farm near the village of Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr high in the hills near the Clocaenog Forest in Conwy.
More than 35,000 bottles of the oil are produced every year using bee-friendly crops grown across North Wales, and Llŷr expects the two new Calon Lan pestos will increase output and attract new customers for the oil, which is free of additives and preservatives.
He said: “Our rapeseed oil is getting more and more popular, and we have already added a range of flavoured oils, including Welsh oak smoked, chilli and garlic.
“However, we realised that there was a wider market of home cooks who would be interested in ready-made dressings, which are quick and easy to use.
“The advantages of Blodyn Aur rapeseed oil are that it has about half the saturated fat found in olive oil and a particularly high flash point, meaning it can handle high temperatures without blazing. This makes it a very versatile oil, perfect for salad dressings as well as frying and roasting potatoes or meat. It really is a lovely ingredient to cook with.
“The two new pestos using contain the oil will help us to cater for a wider cross-section of customers. Our vision is to have a bottle of Blodyn Aur on all kitchen worktops in Wales.
“We were determined to give the new products a strong North Wales flavour and also to ensure the highest quality, and so we’ve selected Plas Farm to produce them for us.
“The company is acknowledged as leaders in the field, are based conveniently for us on Anglesey and its manufacturing process is known to be second to none.
“We are delighted to be working with Plas Farm and look forward to a long and productive working partnership.”
Blodyn Aur is produced using the farm’s own mini hydro-electric power station, and offers health benefits thanks to its high levels of omega-3 and vitamin E, and low level of saturated fats.
Llŷr grows around 35 acres of rape on his own farm, plus he has farms growing for him in other areas of North Wales including Anglesey, near Ruthin, Mold and Flint. Every tonne creates around 330 litres of oil and 660kg of seed husks, which are turned into high-protein rapemeal pellets for Llyr’s hill cattle and sheep, and is also sold to other farmers.
The farm and the machinery for sorting and pressing the seeds are powered by a 24kw hydro-electric plant, which uses the Nant Derwydd that runs through the farm.
Blodyn Aur products are already on sale at Sainsbury’s and Asda along with farm shops, delis and independent retail outlets around the UK.
For more details on Blodyn Aur and the new pestos, plus the Calon Lân range, visit www.madryn.co.uk