Hello, I’m Hazel and I run Fruit Magpie from my home in Tottenham, north London. I make fruit cheese (a set, slice-able fruit preserve which goes beautifully with savoury food) with surplus produce from local urban gardens and allotments.
As someone who had always loved plants and gardening, when I moved to London I wanted to have a place I could grow things. I was lucky: the Tottenham flat I fell in love with had a garden and in it I planted a quince tree, mainly because they reminded me of sunny holidays in the Mediterranean. That was twenty years ago and the fruit from that tree is now the cornerstone of the ‘dulce de membrillo’ I make today.
I love the fact that so many other town dwellers are now growing food in gardens and allotments. However, as every tree owner knows, growing your own often means 2 weeks of the year having fruit coming out of your ears and the rest of the year buying the same fruit in the supermarket. The irony is that produce from these places can often have a fantastic flavour that is a world away from mass production, yet rarely sees the light day beyond friends and family. Worst of all, a huge amount is wasted for lack of an outlet. This is where Fruit Magpie steps in. By collecting fruit in season and quickly processing it I can both save it from going to waste and show how good local food can be – win, win!
Above all, though, my aim is to make delicious food. To me that means first finding the right fruit and then being generous with the amount I use. The result is a range of fruit cheeses which intensely reflect the flavour of the fruit they were made with.
In short, I like to think that you can care about the environment and still be a bit of a foodie.