Published 15 November 2012
As demand grows for goose as an alternative for the Christmas meal, consumers are being advised not to wait for last-minute bargains that may not be around this year.
“There’s been a small increase in the number of geese coming on to the market in recent years — but it’s not a bird you can mass produce,” said Eddie Hegarty, chairman of British Goose Producers.
“Geese are truly seasonal poultry reared in small flocks through the summer and autumn. Our largest members rear only a few thousand a year, so it’s small scale by modern poultry standards.
“But the good news is that the wet year has ensured plenty of lush grazing — geese love the wet — which will help add to the quality and perhaps counter some of the large cost increases in cost of feed and grain this autumn.”
He believes that consumers are becoming much more discerning as to how their food is produced. “There can be no more naturally reared meat than goose,” said Mr Hegarty. “They spend their life grazing on pasture often in quite idyllic countryside, with the shelter of the farmyard at night to protect against marauding foxes.”
The revival of traditional food also favours the goose which held pride of place at Christmas for centuries as recognised by authors like Charles Dickens with the Cratchit family in ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Sherlock Holmes with ‘goose clubs’ in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle’.
More families turning to a goose for the first time are often surprised by how different the meat is from other poultry — darker, more succulent and with a distinctive texture and flavour. And today, as in former times, the fat is part of the appeal.
It’s a much softer form of fat than that in red meat, with analysis revealing a higher proportion of the more desirable mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Top chefs love goose fat, you can buy it in jars through the year and there’s nothing like it for roasting potatoes and parsnips for the Christmas meal.