Fruit Magpie is tackling the issue of food waste in north London’s Tottenham area by turning surplus fruit from local urban gardens and allotments into fruit cheese.
Fruit cheese is a set, sliceable fruit preserve, delicious with savoury food. The jelly-like preserves have a high fruit content and intense flavour, that makes a perfect partner for all types of cheeses, and cold meats even. It can also be added as an accompaniment to gravy or sauces, and even used as a glaze for roast or barbecued meat.
Fruit Magpie produce a year-round quince cheese in small batches, homemade from their Tottenham dwellings. The fruit cheese specialists also produce other preserves based on availability and season.
Although Fruit Magpie is a relatively new business, set up in 2015, its journey truthfully began around 20 years ago when Fruit Magpie founder, Hazel Griffiths, planted a quince tree in the garden of her Tottenham flat.
Hazel Griffiths recalls: “As someone who had always loved plants and gardening, when I moved to London I wanted to have a place I could grow things. I was lucky: the Tottenham flat I fell in love with had a garden and in it I planted a quince tree, mainly because they reminded me of sunny holidays in the Mediterranean. That was twenty years ago and the fruit from that tree is now the cornerstone of the ‘dulce de membrillo’ I make today.”
Certain types of fruit cheese, in particular quince and medlar, date back centuries in the UK. Fruit preserves or fruit cheeses were sweetmeats every Medieval or Tudor housewife knew how to make as a means of making summer produce last through the winter.
What started as a hobby collecting excess fruit and making “urban preserves” for friends and colleagues soon turned into a business. Hazel Griffiths first started selling Fruit Magpie’s fruit cheeses at farmer’s markets in raw blocks. Now her fruit cheeses are sold in small glass jars to delicatessens in the London area, as well as online retailers including Yumbles and Farm Direct.
Hazel Griffiths adds: “I love the fact that so many other town dwellers are now growing food in gardens and allotments. However, as every tree owner knows, growing your own often means 2 weeks of the year having more fruit than you know what to do with and the rest of the year buying the same fruit in the supermarket.
“The irony is that produce from these places can often have a fantastic flavour that is a world away from mass production, yet rarely sees the light of day beyond friends and family. Worst of all a huge amount is wasted for lack of an outlet. This is where Fruit Magpie steps in. By collecting fruit in season and quickly processing it, I can both save it from going to waste and show how good local food can be – win, win!”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, and entertainments. Rosa also works as a psychic, counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com