An Eyemouth meat specialist is hoping to bring the traditionally male world of charcuterie into the 21st century at Ayton Castle.
Rachel Hammond has been perfecting her curing and smoking skills for two years, after moving to Berwickshire from London.
She is now one of only a handful of charcutiers in Scotland.
“It is quite a male-dominated area at the minute,” says Rachel.
“You see it in America in particular, it’s all big men with big knives, lots of moustaches and chrome.
“But in fact there was always this feminine tradition of charcuterie. I’ve met lots of Italian and French women who told me their grandmother used to keep a pig, and when it got knocked on the head they would make sausages. Northumberland and the Borders had that same tradition.”
Rachel is preparing to make the move from the premises she has shared at Waddell’s in Eyemouth to what are currently the dilapidated potting sheds at Ayton Castle.
There, working with the castle’s new owners, she hopes to make progress in promoting the practice and teaching of traditional charcuterie.
This would include, she says, taking on two part-time assistants who were interested in learning the “nose to tail” approach.
“Nothing should go to waste,” Rachel adds, going on to describe how she plans to try making pate from locally caught grey squirrels.
She is keen to stress that the craft comes first. While she does sell at farmers’ markets in Alnwick and Edinburgh (as featured on a recent episode of the BBC’s Landward), Rachel is more interested in perfecting her products rather then selling to garden centres.
“I would much rather it was that way round,” she says, “because that enables me to concentrate on sourcing the best local meats, like the venison and pork and wild boar, that I am able to.”
Rachel said of what will one day be her new premises: “I have been searching for the right building for a long while and I have been lucky to recently acquire a lease on something perfect - beautiful old stone potting sheds in the grounds of Ayton Castle – a few miles from my home base, where I can ride my bicycle to work.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to use these lovely old stone buildings - it has been many years they were “alive”, so you can imagine there is some work to be done before I can start making bacon there!”
Members of the public can help Rachel fund her move (in return for ‘perks’ like lessons and hampers) by visiting her site at www.indiegogo.com.