Pannage pork proving a hit with consumers

Pannage pork, from New Forest pigs roaming free in the woods, is being promoted by a local quality assurance scheme.

Members of the New Forest Marque, which is supported by the New Forest National Park Authority and promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, say customers are seeking out pannage pork for its taste and texture.

Pannage is the historic practice of releasing pigs into the woods in autumn to feed on acorns, nuts and other foodstuffs on the forest floor, which lasts for a minimum of 60 days in the New Forest.

The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst is one of the members of the New Forest Marque, and chef director James Golding said meat from the pigs is proving a hit with his guests. He explained: “I believe the superior flavour of pannage pork is due to a combination of its acorn-rich diet and the free roaming life of the pigs. I always say that a happy pig is a tasty pig!

“We have seen that customers ‘in the know’ actively search out eateries in the area that are serving pannage pork. It’s a bit like every seasonal food; it’s not around all year and should be enjoyed when it’s available and at its best. Using pannage pork at The Pig shows our passion for local produce. With the help of the New Forest Marque, we now source 80% of our produce from within a 25-mile radius.”

Another New Forest Marque member Jamie Burgess, of P R Burgess and Sons, practices the common right of pannage like generations of family before him. He said: “I usually turn out around 50 pigs on to the Forest and one of the main reasons I do it is because pannage pork is so popular – the meat tastes great, and we get orders from all over the region.

“We find the pork to be superior to regular pork because the pigs are out eating acorns and beechnuts, giving it a great, unique taste and texture. Foodies with a real passion for good meat are particular fans of it, and if demand continues to increase, we will definitely be looking to expand.”

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