Beal’s Farm specialises in crafting award-winning air-dried whole muscles, salami, and chorizo using meat from their cherished herd of outdoor-reared Mangalitsa pigs. Mangalitsa pigs are known for their unique and flavourful meat, making them an excellent choice for premium charcuterie products. These artisanal, air-dried meats are likely celebrated for their rich and distinctive flavours, and Beal’s Farm takes pride in their commitment to producing high-quality, handcrafted charcuterie items.
Here is our interview with Phil and Melissa, owners of Beal’s Farm, located at Eridge Park Estate, Tunbridge Wells.
When did Beal’s Farm Charcuterie begin?
When we returned to the UK after living in Spain
, we wanted to bring some of that culture back with us.
We had been making chorizo etc and curing meat with our Spanish neighbours who had shared their processes and recipes. We got our first Mangalitsa pigs in 2011 and began developing our products and launched in 2013.
Did you have a vision for what you wanted to achieve from the start?
Yes, we wanted to bring Mangalitsa Charcuterie to the British public palette and establish a herd in a natural habitat to produce from.
Why Mangalitsa pigs?
The rare breed Mangalitsa pig is highly regarded throughout the world.
Known as the Kobe beef of pork it is high in monounsaturated fats and rich in omega oils. This combined with its darker meat gives it the perfect soft, creamy texture and rich flavour for charcuterie. During our time living in Spain, where we learned the skills and techniquess to make charcuterie, it became apparent that this breed was spoken in similar terms as the famous Black Iberican pig used to make Iberica Jamon.
What was your biggest challenge in the early days?
As the British charcuterie sector was still very young when we started, investing tens of thousands of pounds on air drying rooms and machinery wasn’t viable. It was very challenging on a small budget to recreate the Mediterranean conditions needed to produce high quality air dried meats and salami. There was lots of trial and error, in fact plenty of error. We were constantly tweaking and adjusting. It was also a challenge to educate the British consumer and hospitality
sector. Persuading chefs
and the general public alike, that British charcuterie could be more than a match for its European imported counterpart, was hard work.
Thankfully British charcuterie is now on the path to being as popular and acclaimed as English wine has become.
There are lots to choose from! The best moment has got to be our first born litters of piglets and the first taste of our first air dried Coppa.
Winning ‘Best Product’ at The British Charcuterie Awards for our air dried ham and definitely our move to Eridge Park Estate.
Who inspires you along?
Mostly it is our Mangalitsa pigs.
They fill us with the motivation and desire to conserve their breed. They are the ones who provide us with the capacity to allow a greater range of people to taste their fabulous meat, especially as they almost became extinct just 50 years ago.
What type of restaurants do you work with?
How important is the team at Beal’s Farm to its success?
Vital. Beal’s Farm is all about the Team
. Each member of our team brings their own unique set of skills and knowledge. They all invest not just their time and hard work, but also incredible passion. There is always so much to do, both in production, on the farm
and many unseen jobs, everyone gets involved with everything. Our ethos is very inclusive.
How did the move to Eridge Park Estate come about?
As we had outgrown where we were in North Chailey, it took some time looking around for a new home, but really only Eridge Park Estate ticked all the boxes.
What has the move meant for Beal’s Farm?
Here we have been able to expand both production capacity and our product development program. We are very lucky to have access to the most wonderful Fallow and Sika
deer for our new venison products from the oldest deer park in Britain.
What is the one, most important, piece of advice you would give to anyone starting out?
Obviously you have to choose the right pig (we obviously recommend Mangalitsas, they are a very friendly and inquisitive pig!), you will have to put in many hours and work hard, but most important is to first work out where your market is, where do you intend to sell? Who is going to buy your products? How much are you able to make to sell? As a family run business, starting without ownership of farmland, initial expenditure was high. Therefore, be sure you have the potential to secure a customer base first, be that retail or trade, as start up in costs in this particular trade can be heavy at the front end and the product is not a fast turnaround product. Work out all of your calculations before you embark. Of course if you just want to make charcuterie as a hobby then research the subject online, read books (there are some great ones available now), buy the best meat you can from a good local supplier and practice as much as you can.