Lancaster school makes its own sausages

19/04/2010 - 00:00
Staff and year 11 pupils at a Lancaster school which already raises its own livestock have taken the next step in the supply chain and made their own sausages.

Ripley St Thomas Church of England High School got help from a local food processor and, pleased with the results, entered two sausages into a competition for butchers in the North West and won two gold awards.
The event was the BPEX butcher roadshow and product evaluation event that took place at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton and drew almost 300 products from butchers and farm shops across the region.
After attending a sausage-making masterclass with 10 pupils at Westgate Frozen Foods, school chef Warren Sharples came up with two varieties; a 'Ripley Traditional Pork Sausage' and a speciality 'Ripley Pork, Potato and Smoked Garlic Sausage'.
The sausages use exclusively local ingredients and went on to impress the judges, each recipe scoring in excess of 95 out of 100 to achieve gold award status.
Chef Sharples and teacher Rob Wilson, who runs the school farm, were delighted with the achievement. The school has been rearing its own pigs for about three years – teaching pupils about animal husbandry and the food chain from 'farm to fork' – and uses the resulting meat in the school canteen; from roasting joints to sausages and burgers.
Wilson said: "The farm plays an incredibly important part in school life. Pupils study agriculture and horticulture at a basic level, learning about animals and crops. It is also a GCSE option and as part of the course, year 11 pupils are able to trial different methods of husbandry and compare the results.
"Connecting more closely with the kitchen has been a real focus for the farm, and Warren has been enthusiastic about developing recipes using our own produce. Sausages are a firm favourite so when the opportunity arose to learn how to make them, Warren and a group of year 11 students were keen to take part. The results were fantastic and as well as picking up competition acclaim, the sausages are amongst the most popular choices in the school canteen.
"We're now hoping to build on our success – Warren has already expanded the range of sausages to include a local cheese and red onion variety and we're constantly looking at new ways to grow our farm to fork philosophy. It is so important that children learn more about the food they eat and what better way than to be rewarded by their own efforts."
John Knight of Westgate Frozen Foods, who was already processing the schools pigs, was happy to host the sausage-making masterclass aided by professional judge and sausage expert Denis Elliot.
He said: "The BPEX competition was coming up and we decided to enter for the first time and mentioned it to Ripley School. They were keen to take part, so came along to use our sausage making facilities and find out the method behind making a great sausage.
"They clearly learnt a lot and produced two cracking sausages. We were all very proud to hear that they had achieved two gold awards on the night – and of course, we were doubly delighted to get our own gold and silver award too. We look forward to continuing to help more Ripley pupils learn about food production in the future."
BPEX butchery and product development manager, Keith Fisher, said: "We were very pleased to accept Ripley School into the evaluation event. Judges on the night have no idea whose products they are evaluating and the standard of the school's sausages was in keeping with those from dedicated butchers. It is really encouraging that schools are getting more involved in learning about their food and taking steps to produce their own quality sausages. Our congratulations go to Ripley School and we hope they continue with their efforts."
As well as triumphing in the product evaluation event, Ripley School is also in the final stages of a national competition as part of the Real Food Festival. Having produced a film about their pigs on the farm and the procedures involved in sausage making, the school is eagerly awaiting the grand final, which takes place in Earls Court in May.

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