Reestit mutton

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Reestit mutton

Reestit Mutton is mutton that is first salted in brine and then hung to dry traditionally in the rafters (Reest) of the house above the peat fire, whose smoke would help season the meat. Photos from the early 1900s show the Reestit Mutton still hanging from the roof frame though the fire is now set in a range. After the meat is smoked it is cut up and put into a secret brine recipe which one butcher describes as approximately 80% salt to 20% sugar. It is left for 10-15 days then hung on hooks to dry. Once dry it will keep for years. The mutton has pale, creamy fat and deep red meat. It possesses a salty flavour due to the curing as well as a mature mutton flavour. The texture is hard and dry. The meat is often used as the basis for stocks, broths, and soups. The addition of a small piece is enough to add a huge depth of flavour. It can be eaten cold in a shetland bannock, a flat bread made of wheat. While once a common method of preserving meat throughout the crofting counties of Scotland, Reestit Mutton is now produced solely in the Shetland Islands. This traditional form of preserving meat is still popular today and the salted mutton can still be seen hanging in many houses, especially in the more remote rural communities. It is also sold in some local butchers. Reestit Mutton is probably as close to being Shetland’s ‘national’ dish as is possible, even though lamb is now often used instead of the traditional mutton. The mutton also forms an important feature of the festive celebrations in January, known as the ‘Up-Helly-Aa’ celebrations which are Europe’s largest fire festival. Reestit mutton was once produced by the majority of crofters in Shetland before refrigeration this has now declined significantly and is confined to the more remote rural areas. The product is still available seasonally from three butchers in Lerwick, Shetland. The largest produces 2,400 kg a year. The other two only produce the mutton during the winter. This means that their production volume is greatly reduced in comparison.

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StateUnited Kingdom

Scotland - Shetland

Other info


Cured meats and meat products