Our Good Meat
Our long-held belief is that Good Meat Matters
It matters to the stockmen, it matters to the farmers, it matters to the environment and it matters to you. For this reason we only sell livestock that has been reared slowly and on grass, that has been reared in a regenerative and free-range or organic farming system, and that has been reared in a way which actively sustains and promotes the health of our natural environment.
For us at Salter & King it’s all about provenance: knowing the farmer, knowing the farm, knowing the herd. Knowing that the animal we choose to expertly hand and butcher in our Aldeburgh shop has been reared in a way which cherishes both its welfare and the beautiful Suffolk landscape into which it was born.
Our meat comes from farmers and stockmen that we know well and that we can visit: Suffolk estates that are committed to re-wilding and Suffolk farms that are ‘regenerating’ the land using recognised regenerative farming methods. Whilst maintaining some of the traditions we love and value in both farming and butchery we hope to incorporate innovative and enlightened ways of working to bring our customers the best meat we possibly can.
WHAT MAKES ‘GOOD’ MEAT?
~ Knowing our farming methods
Our meat is sourced from small, mixed farms consisting of undisturbed and wild-flower rich pasture. Even our chickens and pigs eat a high proportion of grass in their diet from all their foraging. This means our meat is grass fed, without hormones, in a system which has a positive effect on the environment with the very highest standard of animal welfare. We want the meat we provide to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Many of our farms are ‘regeneratively’ farmed. Regenerative farming is a new term for a way of farming which has been practiced in this country for hundreds of years. In essence it means farming in harmony with the natural world. Put simply, it’s a return to the ‘mixed farm’ where livestock is used as a tool to heal the land in between crops as part of a healthy rotation. This gives the livestock a wonderful, varied diet whilst it in turn enriches the soil, limits water use, increases biodiversity hugely and vastly reduces chemical input.
Several of our farmers are making strides towards ‘re-wilding’ their estates so that livestock is used to manage the natural landscape. As well as helping capture carbon in undisturbed pasture stores and greatly increasing biodiversity, a re-wilded landscape really benefits the animals it harbours – they are free to roam and feed on what they like which gives them exceptional muscle tone and a terrifically varied diet.
~ Knowing our farms
This is critical to us and we’ve built up really strong relationships with our local farmers. Some of the farmers and estates we work most with include:
- Natasha and Richard Mann whose award-winning herd of Lincoln Red cattle graze a few miles south of us on the banks of the Iken. We work with the Manns to produce our very special ‘Old Cow.’
- Hugh Crossley and his stockman Sam Bales at the Somerleyton Estate in north Suffolk. Hugh is committed to a programme of re-wilding the Somerleyton Estate; his Welsh Blacks graze and Little Highlands graze on uncultivated meadows and wetlands that have a rich variety of wildflowers and herbs.
- Alice Pawsey at Shimpling Farm near Bury St. Edmunds whose new season lamb is the very vest, and Argus Gathorne-Hardy at Great Glemham who provides us with our wonderful Soay lamb, hogget and mutton, grazed on the beautiful meadows of the Alde Valley.
- Belinda Nash who has provided us with her consistently excellent ‘Sutton Hoo’ chickens since we opened. These are free-range and extensively farmed a few miles from us by the River Deben, and taste like chicken ought to.
~ Knowing our breeds
We sell native and traditional breeds. Long horns, Welsh Blacks, Lincoln Reds, Jacob sheep, Soays, Large Black pigs…. All these breeds are exceptionally well-suited to our environment and can convert their food to protein very efficiently, meaning they have no need for external input except in the heart of a harsh winter.
We like our animals to grow at a natural pace and specialise in slow-grown meat: mutton and hogget and the exceptional ‘Old Cow’ that we work exclusively with Natasha Mann at Iken to produce. Certain breeds are better suited to being left for longer, and this markedly slow-grown meat has a fantastic texture and taste. Bringing animals to slaughter too early is the result of a consumer and profit-led economy. We need to change our attitude to food and realise that good meat really is worth the wait.
~ Knowing our community
‘It takes a village to raise a child’ could just as well apply to one of our cows, pigs, chickens or lambs. Every link in the chain that brings your meat from field to fork is critical, and for us to bring you the very best meat it must be sustainable too. Which means we need to pay a fair price for our food so that our farming community continues to be viable. In this way our stockman, farmers, abattoir workers, distributors and butchers are paid a fair wage and can maintain their high standards of practice and care as well as being allowed time to do the job properly.
We try to support our local community in Aldeburgh in any way possible too, employing locally, sponsoring local events and putting on our annual Marmalade competition for local charities. We’ve also recently become involved with the Pasture for Life scheme which joins us up with other like-minded farmers around the country, working with them to bring good pasture the attention it deserves.
~ Knowing our stuff!
Good butchery is so important! We have real knowledge and expertise: while it’s wonderful to have well-hung meat, knowing how long to hang each breed and being able to monitor it daily on-site is critical. Some of our beef is hung for nine weeks, others only four. Hoggett is hung for a week to ten days on average, mutton can be hung for two to three weeks.
We really value our craft and are whole-carcass butchers, helping us to specialise in unusual or long-forgotten cuts. We are also keen cooks and are happy to help with particular cuts or cooking conundrums – we’re available for advice before you order when the shop is open.