Bringing home the bacon
Old-fashioned Irish, English and continental recipes are the cornerstone of Harrington's Small Goods as it expands from its thriving Wellington base to bourgeoning export markets.
Colin Harrington Bridge, whose popular butcher's shop in Majoribanks St was well-known for its tasty sausages and ham, established the smallgoods business in 1991 using traditional recipes from his ancestors in Ireland.
The company's signature traditional black pudding, with its nutty texture and slightly peppery flavour, was sought-after.
Today it features on the menus of many top restaurants in Wellington.
Bridge retired in 1991, but retained his passion for producing specialty smallgoods and kept an interest in the business for many years.
Alan Pearson, who also runs an agri-business consultancy and exports free-range pork and other products to Singapore and other destinations, joined co-owner Angus Black in 2007, determined to grow the artisan business beyond its strong Wellington base.
Over the past two years, staff numbers have increased from about a dozen to 20.
The company has an annual production figure of 300 tonnes of product going to around 200 wholesale customers, 80 per cent of whom are in the Wellington region.
The rest goes throughout the country and overseas, as well as supplying two retail outlets in Otaki and Miramar.
Wholesale customers range from restaurants, cafes and supermarkets to gourmet food stores.
Most exports remain in the Pacific region, mainly supplying resorts.
Harrington's bacon, award- winning ham and specialty sausages are all made with free-range farm meat and natural seasonings using traditional methods.
"We do not use all the chemicals," Pearson said. "We have sadly inherited an engineering of food from other countries. We have tremendous fresh ingredients here," he said.
Harrington's sausages were made of 100 per cent meat and natural seasonings. With no fillers or grains, most were gluten-free, catering to a growing market.
Its dry cured bacon is rubbed with seasoning, and no water is added, before it is smoked.
"Most bacon has had a significant amount of water pumped into it. The taste of our products is different, it becomes a passion, it grips you. Once you taste the real thing it is so much more satisfying, that is the essence of what Harrington's is about."
Pork, sourced from free-range pig farmers in Canterbury, is sent to the Wellington factory for processing.
"They are not only free [range] farmed, they are also raised on grains, not commonly fed animal by-products often used as a protein source. The mix of grains gives the pork a cleaner flavour and healthier fat profile.
"The high quality bacon and ham is wholesome. An old- fashioned quality product can be made in an artisan way on a modern scale," Pearson said.
Sought-after sausages included cheese and beer kranskies, Toulouse pork and pistachio nuts, Greek orange-seasoned sausages, Italian-style pork and fennel and fresh and smoked chorizos, which are popular for use in pasta dishes.
Exporting mainly to Pacific resorts over the past 18 months, the company was now exploring exciting markets in the Asia/Pacific region.
"Our biggest challenge right now is keeping stock on supermarket shelves. It disappears so fast we are focusing on keeping up with the demand," Pearson said.
The Dominion Post