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Traditional Lake District Food

Updated on November 6, 2015

Traditional Lake District food made with ginger, rum, brown sugar and exotic spices

Traditional Lake District Food is spicy and distinctive. Lake District recipes developed in the 18th century ,when exotic spices, fruits and sugar came into the busy port of Whitehaven, Cumberland ( now part of Cumbria) one of the largest ports in the world at that time, from the Indies. These exotic West Indian ingredients gave traditional Lake District food its distinctive flavors.

The rich flavors of rum, dark sugar, dried fruits and spices feature in Traditional Lake District recipes, such as Lake District tea bread.

On the savory side, every local butcher has his own secret recipe for Cumberland sausage (picture courtesy of the Daily Telegraph) Cumberland sausage is a very meaty pork sausage- minimum 90% pork, very little cereal, lots of herbs and spices- delicious.
All Lake District butchers have their own special Cumberland sausage recipes.

At White Moss House we serve Cumberland sausage on our English breakfast platter. Many pubs in the Lake District serve Cumberland sausage with mashed potato and onion gravy on the bar meals menus.

The most famous Lakeland dessert is gingerbread. There are many different recipes for gingerbread, probably the most famous of which is Grasmere gingerbread..

(Photo of Grasmere Gingerbread thanks to David Willis and Cumbria Tourism. Not for reuse.)

The famous Sarah Nelson Grasmere Gingerbread is a sort of biscuit, rather than a soft cake. In Grasmereand Ambleside every year there is a traditional event called Rushbearing , where the village people have a procession to take fresh rushes to the church to lay on the floor, and at these events the children are always served with a sticky, soft gingerbread.

Dates and rum also feature largely in Lake District food, as in the Cumberland Rum Nicky, and the Cumberland rum butter-click through for the recipes below.

Here we'll look at what makes Lake District food distinctive, and give you some recipes and ideas to whet your appetite.

Recently I visited the Westmorland County Show ( the Lake District is mostly in the old county of Westmorland) Together Westmorland and Cumberland are now united as Cumbria. This year the Taste of Cumbria food hall was absolutely magnificent. I bought relishes, pickles and herb jellies. I tasted local cheeses, Cumberland sausage, air dried Cumberland hams, smoked fish, local cakes, and so many good things .

Then of course, there were Lake District Ales and beers, and special Lake District treats such as Damson Gin.Recent years have seen lots of new micro breweries spring up brewing beer by traditional methods.

If you live in the UK and would like to buy Traditional Lake District food online, there are lots of useful links on this page.

If you can't visit the Lake District, or even buy the Lake District food because you live outside the UK, I hope you still enjoy reading about Traditional Lake District Food and maybe trying some of the recipes. The magnificent Lake District National Park is a magnet for vistiors, and the Lake District food is an essential part of a visit to the Lake District.

Cumberland Rum Butter- a great recipe for Christmas and celebrations

The best Christmas recipe ever.

Rum butter is the easiest Christmas recipe you'll ever make. In just a few minutes you can add the taste of Christmas to all your desserts by making this simple Christmas recipe.

Cumberland rum butter is traditionally served at Chirstmas, melted over Christmas pudding. It is also delicious on hot mince pies, baked apples, pancakes, or just spread on toast.

You could serve rum butter in summer, warmed, melted, and spooned over ice cream!

Originally a way of preserving butter,rum butter was used on special occasions to lift the food.

Recipes vary wildly- how much rum or sugar you like is up to you.

This is my favourite;

Cumberland rum butter

Soften and cream 6 oz low salt butter with 6 oz soft brown sugar. Beat in 6 tablespoons dark rum. Put in a pot or glass bowl to chill in fridge. Keeps for 2 weeks.

Put a generous knob on your hot pudding to melt as you serve it.

You can use icing sugar ( confectioner's sugar) if you prefer, and less rum to taste!

As an alternative, you can also make Brandy butter. Many people prefer Brandy butter with the Christmas pudding. Brandy butter is the same easy Christmas recipe- just use brandy instead of rum.

Traditional Lake District Food.

Local ingredients spiced up by exotic imports in the 18th Century.

In the 18th Century the food in England's Lake District was slowly transformed by the addition of sugar, spices rum and fruits imported from the West Indies. The Lake District lies in the county of Cumbria, created in 1974 from Cumberland and Westmorland,

The old names feature in dishes such as Cumberland Sausage, Cumberland Rum Nicky, Westmorland pepper pot. The food of the area had been plain, based on the limited resources available in what was a remote area of England,and the new imports were a welcome addition!

Grasmere Gingerbread is now one of the most famous local recipes. Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread shop, in the old school house , Grasmere, has its own secret recipe for this famous speciality.

Sarah Nelsons Grasmere Gingerbread shop was originally the school. It is tucked away behind St Oswald's church where the Wordsworths are buried and where I was married!

There are some more pictures of the shop and gingerbread below.

Cumberland Rum Nicky- a great traditional dessert - Find this and other traditional recipes on the Great British Cookbook website

Cumberland rum nicky is a traditional Lake District dessert. It makes use of the rum, dried fruits and spices which were imported into the old county of Cumberland via the ports of Whitehaven and Maryport in the 18th Century. It's a pastry base filled with rich dried fruits, sugar and rum. Delicious!

Booths supermarkets in England's Lake District have all the ingredients you need.

Here's more about Rum Nicky from top Northern supermarket Booths
Here's more about Rum Nicky from top Northern supermarket Booths | Source

It is very rich!

Rum Nicky keeps well, and it is probably something your dinner guests won't have tried before., so take a look and give it a whirl.

Places to go , try to buy traditional Lake District food. - Places to see Traditional Lake District Food in the next few weeks

All the Lake District villages have their own shows. traditional Lake District food is always on show.

Farmers markets are also a great place to see and buy traditional Lake District food

Cumberland Sausage- possibly the most famous traditional Lake District food - Find out lots more about Cumberland sausage.

This photo of Cumberland sausage was taken at the cafe in the visitor center at Grizedale forest - thanks to Ennor and flickr creative commons

Here a splendid book about Traditional British food, written by a New Yorker - Buy this book if you are visiting Britain.

The author wants visitors to Britain to discover all the great food the country has to offer. This is not about fancy restaurants!

Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast: Authentic Pub Food, Restaurant Fare, and Home Cooking from Small Towns, Big Cities, and Country Villages Across the British Isles
Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast: Authentic Pub Food, Restaurant Fare, and Home Cooking from Small Towns, Big Cities, and Country Villages Across the British Isles
The author takes you on his own special secret tour of where to find the best British food, what to order, and how to get the best out of your visit to Britain. This book would make a great souvenir too. You can buy Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast: Authentic Pub Food, Restaurant Fare, and Home Cooking in Britain for your Kindle here

I've written so much about my home, the Lake District.

Why not take a look at my personal choices?

There's lots of Lake District information here, written by me, your local author! Please take a look.

William Wordsworth's Daffodils
William Wordsworth's poem, Daffodils, was written just half a mile from my home. Often known by its first line "I wandered lonely as a Cloud" the p...

Lake District Information.
I live at White Moss House , Grasmere, in the Lake District, and have written lots of lenses and articles giving information about things to do in the Lake D...

Wordsworth's Lake District.
I live in a house owned by William Wordsworth, close to Dove Cottage Grasmere where Wordsworth wrote his most famous poems, including "Daffodils" ....

I've searched out lots of great Lake District recipe links for you. - Lakeland recipes and much more about Lake District food

Lake District food is really very popular these days. The tastes and flavors of Lake District food are so comforting and tasty. Many of these recipes can be easily made at home. Surprise your family and friends this Thanksgiving or Christmas, with recipes from the home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth..

Lake District Char - The Lake District char is found in Windermere, Coniston and Wastwater

This delicate fish is a member of the trout family. It was left in the deep lakes at the end of the Ice Age.

To catch it, you must have a special licence, and it is fished for by lines with weights, from special "Char Boats" The char fishing season begins in May and lasts for a few weeks.

Gently poached, the delicate pink flesh is a real treat.

To make this rare fish go further, it is often served as "Potted Char". The flaked flesh is mixed with butter, and maybe a light cream cheese, seasoned , and served with a wedge of lemon on warm toast.

Kendal Mint cake - The original Energy Bar

Kendal mint cake, a sweet minty slab, has been taken all over the world by explorers. Famously taken on the conquest of Everest in 1953. its origins are rather vague- look at this website for more information.

Romney's are the most famous, though Quiggin's of Kendal also make excellent mintcake.

Romney's now make a delicious chocolate covered mintcake, which can be bought in small pieces, ideally as an after dinner mint.

Cumberland cheese

Many traditional cheeses are now made in the Lake District

In recent years there has been a great revival in the art of local cheesemaking.

Cumberland and Westmorland are ancient English counties, now part of Cumbria, the county of the Lake District.

Dairy farming flourishes in the lower area, whilst sheep roam the Lakeland fells ( local word for hills)

Cheese from local cows, sheep and even goats, is now being produced around the region.

Many of the local cheeses have won prizes in local and national competitions.

The cheeses can be found in the many interesting food shops of the area, and on menus in local restaurants , cafes and pubs.

Here is a display of Lake District cheeses form Low Sizergh Barn farm shop.

Photo thanks to Dvaid Willis and Cumbria Tourism- all rights reserved.

Traditional Lake District Food- wonderful local cheese - Find out more about cheeses from the Lake District

Read about our wonderful Lake District cheeses, and maybe buy some for yourself.

A selection of books on the Lake District and its food - There's so much to love about the Lake District

I've picked lots of books that make interesting reading for fans of the Lake District

At Home with Beatrix Potter: The Creator of Peter Rabbit
At Home with Beatrix Potter: The Creator of Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter's inspiration was the Lake District. She farmed the famous local Herdwick sheep. Her home, Hill Top, is in Sawrey, near Lake Windermere

Here's the map of my home area

Planning of visit? Or do you just ( like my husband) love maps?

This is the very best map of my home area.

The English Lakes - South Eastern Area (OS Explorer Map Active)
The English Lakes - South Eastern Area (OS Explorer Map Active)
The essential map for hiking round Grasmere, Rydal, and English Lakeland

Here's a local chef - one of my Twitter friends

Peter Sidwell cooks at the Rheged Visitor Centre. He is one of the Lakes top chefs, and he love the local ingreditents.

Peter Sidwell's Simply Good Taste: Great Food from the Lake District
Peter Sidwell's Simply Good Taste: Great Food from the Lake District
From one of the Lake District's current top chefs, traditional Lake District food with a modern twist.

Would you like to try making your own Traditional Lake District Food? - Here are some recipes for Grasmere Gingerbread for you to try.

Grasmere Gingerbread made to a secret recipe comes from the famous Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread shop, but there are many different recipes for Gingerbread that you might like to try.

I've picked the best recipes for Gingerbread right here.


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