9th April 2020

Food / Great Glen Charcuterie

Venison: The Sustainable Meat

29 6 mins 4

Anja and Jan Jacob Baak left their home in the Netherlands and moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2000. From a passion project to award winning business, The Great Glen Charcuterie encompasses a pure respect for the land and the deer that roam freely across it.

Venison is an abundant and healthy meat. And a significantly better option than intensively farmed meat. Wild deer populations are managed to keep numbers at a sustainable level, protecting the environment from overgrazing and animals from starvation.

We never imagined that we would become Scotland’s leading charcuterie producer when we moved to the Scottish Highlands. My husband, Jan Jacob, had been offered a job on a Scottish country estate and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to move our growing family and live in the remote and beautiful countryside. Within weeks we had found tenants for our home in the Netherlands and we moved our three young daughters into a small cottage in the Highlands. 

Part of Jan Jacob’s job was the management of the wild deer population, and we soon fell in love with the delicious meat. The price of venison was very low at that time, the meat was not as mainstream as it is now. Not many people were eating venison and we wanted to add value and increase the shelf-life so we could sell the products further afield. Always full of new ideas, Jan Jacob soon started to experiment with the venison and built a wooden box in the garden to smoke the meat.

As a young boy Jan Jacob loved the dried sausages his mother bought from the local butchers. There is a tradition of making dried sausages in the Netherlands and we wanted to do this with venison too. It was a bit of a challenge as venison is a very lean meat and does not contain much fat, but we worked out a recipe in the end. 

Friends and family loved our experiments and encouraged us to start a business.

A friend owned an old derelict butcher shop in Roy Bridge, and we managed to get the lease. The building had lain empty for many years but after kitting it out into a state-of-the-art processing unit; Great Glen Charcuterie was born! 

Sourcing the deer from the surrounding estates has always been very important for us. We know the stalkers and estate workers who manage the wild deer population. Because there are no natural predators anymore, the wild deer population has to be managed to a sustainable level. The deer roam freely in the Scottish hills and feed on heather, wild plants and grass making venison a delicious healthy meat. It is low in fat, high in iron. 

And obviously they are totally organic. 

 

Over the years we developed new recipes, Jan Jacob is always trying to improve the products. Great Glen Charcuterie now sells a range of salamis, chorizos, bresaola and smoked venison to independent retailers across the country. The charcuterie is also used by chefs and is on the menu in some of the country’s best restaurants. 

In the early years of the company, Jan Jacob was still employed on the Estate and the business was run part time, but in 2010 he decided to concentrate full time on Great Glen Charcuterie. It was a great acknowledgement for our hard work when the Green Pepper Salami was awarded Charcuterie product of the Year at the Great Taste Awards in 2013 and in 2019 our salami won the Game category at the British Charcuterie Awards.

Not many people were eating venison and we wanted to add value and increase the shelf-life so we could sell the products further afield.

Anja Baak

See The Great Glen Charcuterie’s recipe for a delicious venison chorizo bean stew here.

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Anja and Jan Jacob Baak left their home in the Netherlands and moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2000. From a passion project to award winning business, The Great Glen Charcuterie encompasses a pure respect for the land and the deer that roam freely across it, producing wild venison charcuterie that is naturally organic and completely delicious.

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