Can you tell us about the business and how it started?
Knepp Estate has been at the centre of a pioneering rewilding project in the heart of West Sussex for the last 25 years. Three years ago, we created the Knepp Wild Range, a brand of Charcuterie and meat products made from animals that are only pasture fed. This results in tender and flavoursome meat that is sustainable and low cost to produce.
Do you raise your own livestock?
We raise all our Organic and Pasture fed Old English Longhorn Beef, red and fallow deer and Tamworth pigs on the Knepp Estate.
How and where do you sell your meat?
We decided to sell our meat directly to the consumers and set up an environmentally friendly butchery, utilising CO2 as the main refrigerant. This created a facility that could cope with 100 Old English Longhorn cattle, 150-200 Red and Fallow deer and up to 30 Tamworth pigs in a four-month window. Our ‘fresh’ meat and game is sold frozen. We also process our meat utilising traditional and modern curing and fermentation methods, hence Charcuterie.
How has your business benefitted from Angel Refrigeration’s equipment?
We’ve worked with Angel for the past three years, using their refrigeration units for curing and dry aging. We value their depth of understanding of what a Charcuterie producer needs and the advice they gave us on such vital issues as HACCP. Two years ago, the estate converted a maintenance and storage barn into a food processing area and installed a commercial kitchen. They recommended we use both single and double chamber Everlasting MEATICO glass fridges for our fermentation and cave age drying needs.
What makes your Charcuterie different to other producers?
All of our meat comes from the rewilding project. Our animals are fed on 100% permanent pasture, as part of the project. We only have a short window to butcher and process our meat between annual culls, but we are able to offer consistently high quality Charcuterie all year round, through our curing, fermenting and freezing methods. We believe such meat is healthier to eat.
What has been the main inspiration to your Charcuterie making?
The British Charcuterie industry, both locally and nationally has been a huge inspiration and support to us. We work very closely with other producers such as Rich Summers from Summers & Co, Rebel Charcuterie, Hampshire Salami and Calcott Farm, all sharing ideas for new products, recipes, processing and equipment.
What affect does your re-wilding project have on your Charcuterie making?
Knepp Wild Range is only a small part of the Rewilding project on the Knepp Estate, but a very important one. Our land has an extremely low stocking density of around 0.3 of an animal per hectare. This allows the land to sustain our animals even in the harshest of months without any unnatural fattening or finishing of the animals on grain. The hardest thing to keep consistent is the through put of meat for the making of Charcuterie, as we only kill our cows from September – November for beef products, November for our pork products and August – March for the venison products.
Our business ethos includes using only Organic products whenever possible, which we try to source locally, however sometimes we do have to go a little further afield to ensure production methods align with our own.
What makes Knepps Charcuterie special?
We only use our own pasture fed animals so we know where our meat has come from and where possible, add only organic seasonings or flavourings. We pride ourselves on producing high quality and very flavoursome products.
What is your favourite product and why?
Our Venison chorizo. The natural flavour of the venison combined with robust flavours of smoked paprika and chipotle gives the meat a punch but is not overly aggressive. We also add Tamworth pork fat to it to give it creamy undertones… what’s not to love!
Do you have a favourite charcuterie recipe or special tip to hand on to customers when buying your Charcuterie?
I always tell all our customers to ensure our Charcuterie is at room temperature before eating. This enhances the flavour profile, makes the meat softer and the salami, in particular, more palatable.
Where do you sell your products?
Currently, Knepp Charcuterie is available only from the Estate’s Camping and Safari shop and online at www.kneppwildrangemeat.co.uk . We offer national, next day delivery direct from our website everywhere in the UK, except the Scottish islands. We’re opening a farm shop 2023, with the support and advice from Angel Refrigeration, where we will be selling our full range of Charcuterie as well as other local produce.