Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Pannage pork

The Times of 10 October 2014 reports that demand for pannage pork is ‘expected to outstrip supply as more restaurants try to offer it on their menus’ this autumn.  Apparently some customers ‘actively seek out’ restaurants which have the pork on their menus.

003The pigs from which pannage pork is derived feed on fallen acorns (Quercus seeds) in the New Forest, Hampshire, during the autumn.  Following a tradition said to date from the Middle Ages Forest smallholders are allowed to fatten their pigs on acorns for 60 days ‘after the pannage season is declared, usually until November’ and hundreds of pigs are so fed.  Pannage pork sells at almost twice the price of other free-range pork.

Jamón ibérico de bellota, from free-range pigs which feed on acorns in south and southwest Spain and parts of Portugal is claimed to be the finest in the world.

Although the report does not mention it acorns are extremely scarce in many parts of England this year, and even in good years healthy mature acorns are rarely formed as most are deformed by knopper galls formed by larvae of the wasp Andricus quercuscalcis, which was first recorded in the British Isles in the 1960s.

Images: upper, pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) acorns, vicinity of Gatwick Airport, West Sussex, August 2015; lower, part of window display in a Julián Becerro ham shop, Madrid, August 2022.

Updated 6 September 2022.

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