Seen as an integral part of the winter season and sometimes referred to as Shetland’s equivalent of a “national dish” reestit mutton is a seasonal staple in many isles households.
And now one local business will be offering this well-loved part of Shetland’s culture to food-lovers beyond our shores by selling the product online.
Launching online sales of the local delicacy this week Jay Joubert, business manager at Anderson Butcher, called the lamb product a “defining” dish of Shetland.
The cured mutton product, which Anderson’s produces in Whiteness for sale around the isles, has already found footing on the mainland with famed chef Martin Wishart offering it at his Leith restaurant, Mr Joubert said.
And now the butcher has partnered with the Shetland Food and Drink Association to sell the product throughout the country on the group’s recently launched Taste of Shetland website.
Still commonly produced throughout the isles – to be consumed with tattie soup during the festive season and into Up-Helly-A’ season – a number of recipes for the signature dish exist.
At Anderson production begins in August at a dedicated space in Whiteness. There the mutton will be ‘reestit’ before being placed in a brine pickle for up to three weeks before being hung to dry for several more weeks. The product then hits the shelves around October or November.
Jill Franklin, manager of the local produce promoting group, said they decided to partner with member business Anderson Butchers after being contacted by mainland residents looking to purchase reestit mutton.
“I had some enquiries on Taste of Shetland from people south about how to get reestit mutton. We also wanted to start doing seasonal promotions as part of what we do, because Shetland has got some amazing seasonal produce.”
Just 48 hours after listing the product online the butchers were receiving orders to dispatch across Scotland, Orkney and the north of England.
Ms Franklin said: “I think the thing about reestit mutton is that it’s exclusive to Shetland, it’s not made anywhere else in the UK now. At the same time there’s so much interest in slow food just now, real quality food that takes time to make.”
She added: “It’s one of Shetland’s best-kept food secrets. Only locals and ex-pats know about it but we’re trying to get the story of reestit mutton out more widely.”