Cider, wine, cheeses, sausages and salmon – there are plenty of food and drinks associated with, and produced in, the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. Now there is a new flavour to add to the list: the winning suggestion in the competition to find a new sweet flavour has been chosen. Members of the public will be able to sample the new sweet at the Forest Showcase Food and Drink Festival on 2nd October after which it will go on sale throughout the region.
Back in July, we launched the #SweetTalking competition in partnership with the independent sweet shop Tudor Sweets. The competition asked the public to suggest a sweet flavour that could be produced especially for the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley.
Almost 130 entries with a wide range of suggestions were received and after a lot of thought, the winning flavour is apple and raspberry suggested by Nicky Cross who lives near Ross-on-Wye. She also suggested the name ‘Yat Rock’ which caught the imagination of the judges.
A traditional form of sweet-making, called open pan gas/air-forced draught cooking, will turn Nicky’s suggestion into an actual sweet. The ingredients are mixed together with long spatulas in large, shiny copper pans on open fires (which these days are powered by gas). Once the sugar and glucose mix has reached 150-154oC, the mixture is carefully tipped onto a water-cooled cast iron cooling table where it spreads to form a thick layer. The flavourings are added at this point and then a succession of kneading, cutting with scissors and pallet knives, and a pulling machine turn this mass into a giant ‘rope-like’ sweet. The forming dye machine cuts this rope into small sweet shapes after which they cool on a carousel, are sieved to remove sharp edges and are then ready for wrapping.
“This new sweet will be a little bit of the Forest and Wye Valley that visitors can take away with them and share with others back home.” Said Maureen McAllister, Executive Director for the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tourism Association.
“Flavours are a great help for recalling memories, and sweets are something that anyone can easily buy and savour. So we hope that the flavour will stimulate the senses and bring back wonderful memories of people’s visit to these beautiful areas.”
For Daniel and Sue Pearce, founders of Tudor Sweets, the combination of the name and the flavour gives the sweet popular appeal. “Symonds Yat is not only an iconic place which really symbolises the Wye Valley, it also mirrors the rock-like quality of the hard-boiled sweet which is what the final sweet will be.” Said Daniel.
“As for the flavour, I wanted one which would appeal to lots of people. Ideas like wild boar and mint are very imaginative and I enjoyed reading those, but I didn’t think that many would like to try a roast dinner in a sweet! Apples are an integral part of this area and lead to some great ciders being made, and raspberry is a popular one which goes well with apple.”
The winner, Nicky Cross, will receive 100g of her favourite sweet every week for a year plus a weekend for two in The Chase Hotel in Ross-on-Wye. Sweet lovers will be able to sample the new flavour when it goes on sale for the first time at the Forest Showcase Food and Drink Festival on 2nd October. After this, it’s hoped that locals and visitors alike will be able to buy it from shops, hotels, bed and breakfast venues, and tourist attractions around the area. The specialised packaging will make it easy to spot wherever it’s on sale.