What are Artisan Foods?
It is a term that is often used these days but, apart from making great gifts for foodies, just what exactly are artisan foods? There are a number of different factors that can contribute to something being considered to be "artisanal".
Common Features of Artisan Foods
Made Using a Traditional Recipe
Many of the food products that describe themselves as being “artisan” mean that they have been produced following a recipe that has been handed down through multiple generations, sometimes claiming recipe provenance that dates back many hundreds of years. These types of recipes may also be described as “heritage” or “traditional” and it is considered that their longevity is a testament to their high quality and good taste.
The artisans see their business as keeping alive a valuable link to the past, and the urge to pass on their knowledge to future generations often means that these businesses are run within a family unit.
Produced Using a Traditional Method
Many of the methods used to produce food these days have deviated massively from traditional ways, and artisan foods tend to have been made much more simply and sustainably with methods that recall how food used to be made.
An example of this would be cheese that has been made with hand-churned butter, using milk from a local herd of cows which are milked by hand by artisan cheesemakers rather than a machine.
Small Batches - No Mass Production
In some ways, artisan food can be seen as the antithesis of mass or factory-produced food. It tends to be produced in small batches, as and when required rather than mass-produced on a grand scale.
This means that you are guaranteed to be able to get very fresh food from artisans and to be safe in the knowledge that their food waste is very low compared to more commercially focused enterprises. Artisan food businesses live or die by their reputation for taste. Food that is freshly prepared in small batches always tastes better.
Simple, Local Ingredients
The use of traditional recipes tends to mean that a lot of artificial products, chemicals and preservatives are simply not included in artisan foods. If they didn’t exist or weren’t common when the recipe was made, they aren’t in the finished product.
This also means that many local ingredients will be used, and indeed many artisans pride themselves on this and emphasise the use of local produce. Not only does this make for great tasting, local products, but it also reduces the environmental footprint involved in their making.
Concern for the Environment
A great many artisan businesses have environmental concerns at the forefront of their minds. This is something that causes many of them to eschew more “efficient” ways of producing food. Efficiency can safely be sacrificed for quality, taste and a better environmental outcome as far as most artisans are concerned.
They often use renewable energy to power their business premises as far as possible and go the extra mile to ensure that product packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Handcrafted, artisan foods are created with a greater focus on the uniqueness of each ingredient and thus are always fresh, offering a sense of being close to the actual maker of the product. Artisan foods never fail to reflect the family business' culture, warmth and passion for quality food. Discover hundreds of artisan gifts for foodies based on these traditions.
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