28 Sept 2022

Kilkenny's Highbank Organic Orchards first Cookbook

Photos by Christopher Dunne

Just apples...

Highbank Orchards, based in Cuffsgrange, Co. Kilkenny have opened their orchards to your kitchen with their first cookbook by Ruth Calder-Potts. The beautifully self-published illustrated cookbook is packed with recipes on how to use the simple ‘apple’ in our recipes. It also demonstrates how we can incorporate their famous Highbank organic apple cider vinegar in our dishes, instead of just drinking it down the hatch.

Siobhan Donohoe & Ruth Calder-Potts checking out the wonderful recipes in the new cookbook

Highbank Orchards is home to the Calder-Potts family, Rod, Julie and their children Hylton and Ruth. The family planted their very first apple orchards in 1969 and have been farming organic for the past 35 years.

We paid a visit to the farm to meet the wonderful people and products behind this exordinary cookbook, which contains 23 heart warning delicious winter recipes. This is a nod that they are only getting started, as they hope to bring out more volumes for the seasons ahead.

The recipes are beautifully illustrated in the creative photographery shoots taking by the cook herself - Ruth Calder-Potts. The recipes include Highbank Granola, Fire Cider, The Good Sh*t Bread, Salads, Soups, Pumpkin with Black Rice and Tangerine Tahini Sause, Mussels in Cider and much more. Family recipes are also revealed – Bobotie, which is a South African bake and a dish honouring Rod Calder-Potts South African roots. Or try making Ruth’s Three Generational Pavaola with Highank brandy soaked prunes, which is a combination of the family’s recipes, all claiming to be better than the other!

Three Generational Pavaola

(Photo by Ruth Calder-Potts)

So where did the love of apples come from? Highbank’s first apple orchards were planted by the family, in 1969, to compliment the hop gardens. The fertile Kilkenny limestone soils are uniquely suited to produce delicious apples and apple juice organically.

The varieties of apples are specially chosen for their juicing properties which are uniquely complex and full of health giving vitamins and minerals.

As artisan producers the Calder-Potts do know their apples. All of their production is to the strictest of organic standards. No chemicals are sprayed on the apples, neither are any herbicides or chemical fertilizers used. GMOs are shunned to the extent that they avoid the use manure from animals fed on GM food.

Siobhan in the Single Estate Gin Distillery at Higbank

Highbank Orchards is home to the original and innovative and multi award winning Highbank Orchard Syrup. They also produce several delicious Apple juices, including their acclaimed non-alcoholic Drivers Cider as well as Highbank Proper Cider and Medieval Cider, matured on their wild yeasts with no added sulphites. 2014 brought the addition of Dodonus - the smallest Distillery in Ireland which was built in the old Highbank Dairy and now produces Highbank Organic Apple Spirits - the first Irish and Kilkenny Organic Apple gin known as Highbank Crystal Gin (out of the rocks of Kilkenny), Highbank Orchard Spirit, Highbank Orchard Liqueur Brandy and Highbank Organic Apple Vodka. All these products from just apples.

The beautifully coffee table and kitchen worthy Cookbook is for sale in Kilkenny’s Book Centre, The Little Green Grocer and at Highbank Orchards and retails for only €12.

Read more this week on Ruth Calder-Potts in ‘Day of the Life’...Kilkenny People

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