The record hot summer has finally given farmers some good news with the almost Mediterranean conditions producing very high quality wheat.Following the dreadful summer and disastrous harvest of 2012, Padstow Pasta is making a comeback !
Charlie Watson Smyth and his durum wheat crop near Padstow, Cornwall
From Turkish “Bursa” Figs and Spanish “Seville” Oranges, many classic foods have become identified with the regions in which they are produced. Puglia in southern Italy is widely regarded as being the home of some of Italy’s finest pasta, produced from the bearded Durum wheat grown in the hot Mediterranean climate. A new name could be about to be added to this list with the excellent summer growing conditions producing one of the best durum wheat crops in the UK for years at Charlie and Jane Watson Smyth’s farm near Padstow in Cornwall which they will use to produce their famous Padstow Pasta.
The UK only produces a tiny amount of Durum wheat due to the variable climate and lack of a commercially sustainable high volume market. In spite of this, plant breeder Elsoms Seeds, in conjunction with Harlow Agricultural Merchants, have continued to maintain and trial varieties in the UK and so were able to supply the variety Miradoux to enable the Watson Smyth’s to replace their seed stocks and to continue producing pasta after the disastrous harvest of 2012.
Elsoms, the UK’s leading independent plant breeder, has worked for generations with family owned French plant breeding company, Florimond Desprez, to breed and select varieties for the UK market and from whose breeding programme Miradoux originates. “The climate has been perfect for high quality such as Durum this year” commented Elsoms’ Adrian Hayler. “Charlie is delighted with the yield and quality that Miradoux has produced and we look forward to being one of the first to sample the end product when it becomes available in September” he added. “The grain will be milled at The Cornish Mill & Bakehouse with the flour then being processed to produce high quality whole-wheat pasta. The durum wheat flour is also sold unprocessed with Jamie Oliver's restaurant ,Fifteen, in Cornwall being one of a number of dedicated customers” said Charlie.
“Over the last 30 years there have been a number of attempts to establish a sizable UK durum wheat crop” commented Adrian.” Unfortunately over recent years the economics of milling UK durum wheat has meant no market of any scale viable for the major millers. However we continue to work with the crop marketing team at Harlow and the breeders in France to make sure that the crop can be “turned on” again when the opportunity arises” he added.
Elsoms have a history of helping preserve regional crops, recently working closely with Colmans and their growers to help preserve the “English” status of their icon Mustard.