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Christmas Hampers

Join us to make a beautiful selection of homemade festive produce to share with friends and family at Christmas.

Christmas at River Cottage is a magical time and the climax of a year of growing, cooking and feasting. Preparations begin in early autumn as we stock the winter larder and get ready to celebrate the festive season ahead. The kitchen is full of rooty veg dug from our garden, jars of boozy steeping fruits, spicy, vinegary preserves and racks of freshly baked breads and crispbreads. Swathes of foliage foraged from the farm are brought in to decorate the barn and farmhouse, fairy lights twinkle and fires inside and out are lit each morning.

We love to share the bounty of the year with friends and family whether we are gathering around the table or making edible gifts, so we have created an exciting new course to reflect this. Come and join us and learn how to make a fantastic selection of produce to fill a hamper, stocking or store cupboard. Find out more about the origin and tradition behind the ingredients we use, how to plan ahead with a well-stocked larder and recipe tips to survive the season.

Throughout the day your course tutor Lucy Brazier, one of our original team members and author of our forthcoming Christmas handbook, will lead you through the joys of sweet treats, vinegar and ketchup making and boozy delights to fill a River Cottage hamper. Recipes include chocolate, hazelnut and sour cherry salami, clementine and ginger ratafia, Christmas ketchup, quince shrub, herby crackers, winter curd and Twelfth Night Seasoning. There will be plenty of time to be spoilt too as our Head Chef will make a delicious lunch and there will be an opportunity to tour the walled kitchen garden. You will leave with a hamper of your handmade produce and a few little extras like recipe cards, Christmas quotes and a special seed gift from our Head Gardener.

Your day

09.30 - 17.00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and begin your River Cottage experience with a 10-15 minute walk through the pathways down to the farm, enabling you to really soak up the views of the valley.

  • Welcome

    Meet Lucy and start the day with tea or coffee and treats fresh from the kitchen.

  • Demo session one: River Cottage Piccalilli

    To get the day underway, Lucy will talk about the Christmas larder and demonstrate a piccalilli that goes with everything!

  • Practical session one: Sweet treats

    Now you'll start your chocolate, hazelnut and sour cherry "salami" and look at pudding variations.

  • Practical session two: Vinegars and Shrubs

    Learn how to make your own delicious vinegars and use them as a base for dressings, shrubs and as a health benefit.

  • Practical session three: Herby crackers

    Next you'll make your own herby crackers to give away or sit alongside your cheeseboard.

  • Practical session four: Booze

    Now we'll look at Christmas cocktails and make a clementine and ginger ratafia to add to your Christmas drinks tray.

  • Lunch

    Food is always the focus at River Cottage, and a two-course lunch of local, seasonal fare will be one of the highlights of your day.

  • Practical session five: St Nicholas Ketchup

    After lunch you'll create your own seasonal ketchup and Lucy will share recipe tips for easy midwinter dishes.

  • Practical session six: Twelfth Night Seasoning

    Twelfth Night Seasoning is our very own magic seasoning to use for soups, meat, risottos or to flavour nuts, a pot of this should see you through the 12 days of Christmas.

  • Practical session six: Winter Curd

    Last but by no means least, you'll make a citrusy curd, perfect on your toast, dolloped on to yoghurt or as filling for a cake.

  • Departure

    There will be time to chat to your fellow scholars and the River Cottage team, before heading back up the hill at 5pm with your handiwork to take home!

Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.

On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.

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Further information...

This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.

We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.

Stay in our famous Farmhouse, click here. For other local accommodation click here.

We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.

Sorry, we’re afraid this course is not suitable for those with coeliac disease or wheat intolerances. However we do run Gluten Free Cookery courses. Please also note that some of the recipes do include dairy and eggs in them.

With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Food and Travel Magazine 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2018