Spring is the most keenly anticipated time of the year in Jersey; when the stormy winter sea around us begins to calm and colourful flowers burst from hedgerows, Islanders know that it won’t be long until we can begin enjoying the abundance of fresh local produce that our temperate climate produces perfectly at this time of year. Of all the things to do in Jersey, this is undoubtedly one of our favourites!
Here is a harvest of some of the finest produce that Jersey has to offer and how to enjoy them like a local.
From the Land
For an island measuring just 45 square miles local farmers grow a variety of tasty produce from organic vegetables including spinach, cabbage, asparagus, beans and purple sprouting broccoli to mouth-watering fruits such as strawberries and, later in the year, a wide variety of apples which are used for the production of cider and Jersey Black Butter – each still often made with traditional methods dating back hundreds of years.
While many of these goods are available to buy in supermarkets and farm shops all over the island, a part of Jersey’s unique charm is our honesty box system, rarely encountered in other parts of the world. This is where local growers, small-holdings and keen gardeners offer everything from fresh vegetables to honey, and from flowers to free-range eggs through unmanned stalls atop their garden wall. Passing customers help themselves to whatever takes their fancy and leave cash in the tin provided. This age-old system has survived and adapted to the tests of modern life, with maps showing the position of boxes and what they offer available to find online, and some now offering payment by bank transfer or app to serve those who don’t regularly carry cash.
The Jersey Royal
Undoubtedly the most famous of our home-grown wares are our Jersey Royal potatoes; a chance discovery made over 140 years ago, they are unique to the island and enjoy EU designation of origin protection. Planted from January and kept safe from frost under blankets of thick plastic that give the Island a snow-dusted appearance from above, the first crops are harvested from steeply sloped sunrise facing fields, or cotils, in the east of the island in late March.
While many of these small but perfectly formed potatoes are exported to be enjoyed in the UK and beyond, visitors to Jersey can taste them at their very best, eating them the same day that they’ve been picked, drizzled liberally in Jersey Dairy butter and sprinkled with locally produced sea salt.
If you have ever wondered where the Jersey Royal came from, watch this short video.
From the Sea
Of course, it’s not just on land that we find the component parts of fresh and tasty meals. Surrounded by the clean and cool waters of the bay of St. Malo, our local fishermen unload the freshest fish and shellfish on the dockside each day, for quick transportation to the fish market, supermarkets, independent retailers, hotels and restaurants. Local favourites include mackerel, scallops, spider crab and lobster, while delicious Grouville Bay oysters are farmed within sight of Gorey Castle. One of the best places to enjoy seafood in Jersey is at a picnic table outside Faulkner Fisheries to the north end of St. Ouen’s Bay, where the freshest shellfish is barbecued while you wait.
The Cream of the Crop
No meal in Jersey would be complete without dessert, and no holidaymaker should depart without sampling at least one real Jersey ice-cream. Made on the island from the renowned rich and creamy milk of our distinctive Jersey herds, it’s considered by many to be the very best ice cream in the world. Ice cream kiosks can be spotted in Jersey almost year-round, with Corbiere Lighthouse or Gorey Castle being amongst the most impressive views to take in while you enjoy.
Look for the Genuine Jersey Mark
Visitors can be assured that the produce they are sampling is locally certified by looking for the red Genuine Jersey logo. From Jersey Royals and vegetables to shellfish, flowers and much more, Genuine Jersey brings together a host of small local businesses committed to producing wonderful food items locally. Our diverse and international community means that this includes items that may surprise; favourite South African snack biltong is produced using the finest Jersey Beef, and Pimata chilli and curry sauces are made with locally grown ingredients, inspired by the Mauritian roots of their creator.
Dine like a Local
With such an abundance of excellent goods at our disposal, it’s no wonder that many Jersey restaurants and cafes pride themselves on using fresh local produce wherever possible. El Tico Beach Cantina offers relaxed all-day dining with spectacular sea views and the elegant Greenhills Country Hotel prides itself on including local meat, dairy and vegetable options on their tempting menu. Classic Herd tea room is part of Jersey’s only independent dairy farm and utilises their on-site produced milk, cream, butter and eggs in lunches and cream teas. For a special occasion, Tassili restaurant within the Grand Jersey Hotel has put together a tasting menu inspired by Jersey and its native language Jèrriais.
After all this talk of food, thoughts naturally turn to a little tipple to wash it down, which thankfully can be provided by La Mare Wine Estate. Tucked away in the country parish of St. Mary to the north of the Island, La Mare produces not only a choice of wines, but also Jersey vodka made with 100% Jersey Royal potatoes, Jersey gin including local elderflower, and a wide selection of apple ciders, brandies and cream liqueurs, in a local tradition that dates back centuries.