Monday, 16 December 2013

Riverford Farm Shop - Organic Mince Pies

We have a newbie to the blog here today. Riverford! Famous for their wide range of organic groceries and delivering them around the country to thousands of happy people while winning numerous awards for the quality of their produce. They made the claim that their mince pies were the UK's best on twitter recently and after a friendly challenge was proposed by yours truly, they jumped at it and have sent me a box of their finest for us to review. I admire their confidence. Lets see how it does.

Presentation - 7

Another different sort of box here. Like Selfridges' box, these open upwards rather than sliding out from the side. It is a very simply cardboard box. Yes, I know all mince pie boxes are cardboard, but these are untreated, like the sort of box you receive something you've bought online and had it delivered in (like from that rainforest named company), and also, yes, I realise these have come to me in the post, but I'm sure if you bought them from their farm shop, they would be packaged the same. The box itself has exactly what it contains written front and center with some white snowflakes around to give it a Christmas feel.

As for the mince pies themselves. As you can see, they took quite a beating in the post, with much of the edges broken away. I feel I have to judge these as they were when they left Riverford, it's only fair. Therefore, I believe they would have looked very home made as they claim on their website. I most certainly could pass these off as my own! I've given them a fair crack of the whip, by picking the best looking one to photograph.

Nutritional Content & Price - 5

While the box does not contain any nutritional content, or even an ingredients list, their website is thankfully a little more informative. You will find an ingredients list but still no nutritional content. However, it is clear that Riverford ensure that their ingredients are as much organic where possible and ethically sourced. For example, as an alternative to vegetable suet, they use palm shortening;
"...which we are unable to source as an organic ingredient. We buy the product from a company based in Colombia who only grow palms on land previously used for agriculture. They do not contribute in any way to the destruction of the rainforests."
These are sold at £4.95 for a box of six. If you are lucky enough to living in Devon, then you can simply pop along to their farm shop, however, for much of the country you'll have to order online. While they do not charge for delivery, they do require a minimum spend of £12.50. That's 3 boxes of mince pies to take you over. Considering they are organic and all hand made, £4.95 is not unreasonable. You would probably pay around the same, if not more, from a local bakery.

Pastry - 33

Usually from the shallow mince pies, you get a large amount of pastry, however, with these you don't. It's just the right thickness all around. The pastry itself is fantastically crumbly; definitely a two hand job! It is not too sweet despite the generous layer of sugar on top and has a little crunch to it when you first bite into it. What I was intrigued about is that despite it's extreme crumbly texture, the pastry doesn't taste dry!? Whatever, they have done, this is one tasty pastry and only looses a couple points because you can't help by make a mess when eating one.

Mincemeat - 21

This is unfortunately a bit disappointing for me. There is heaps of flavour and the pie is well stuffed. However, there is a serious lack of moisture in the mincemeat. It is all very dense. I feel it does not give the flavours the opportunity to come through individually. The vine fruits inside are a tad juicy and do help a little to combat the lack of overall moisture, but it is not enough to defer from the fact that the whole mince pie does taste a little dry.

Overall Satisfaction - 7

From someone who is very much prefers a mincemeat heavy pie, this was not what I expected inside. The pastry is brilliant, but the mincemeat was a let down. It is amazing how the texture can affect the quality of a mince pie too. I can see why many people love these mince pies, and maybe with it heated, a dollop of cream and a cup of tea or coffee, and this will be a great mince pie. As we test it straight out of the box, cold, it was not at it's best, but still well above average.

Here are the scores from my fellow mincers; 

Tester 1 
Presentation (7) Nutritional content & Price (10) Pastry (34) Mincemeat (29) Satisfaction Level (8) 
"Almost perfect, except was too crumbly. However, a really enjoyable pie."
Tester 2
Presentation (5) Nutritional content & Price (5) Pastry (22) Mincemeat (20) Satisfaction Level (5)
"Disappointing. First one I didn't finish!!"


72.7 / 100

Look at where these fit in on our leader board.

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