Generations of Scottish family keeping it fresh


30 March 2022
Growers launch 'no fuss mash' at speciality food show

AN enterprising farming family has launched a range of fresh ‘no fuss’ premium mash, cooked and packed on their farm on the East Coast of Scotland. 

Andrew and Anita Stirling have farmed potatoes at Upper Dysart Farm near Montrose for 30 years and in the early 2000s Stirfresh was set up, supplying washed and peeled fresh vegetables for schools and hospitals across Scotland. In recent years, they have built on this to create convenient ‘easy veg’ for retailers, from turnip mash, soup packs and par-cooked baked potatoes and are the largest supplier of washed potatoes to Aldi in Scotland.

With the rise in demand for healthy convenient meals, they have invested in the latest technology to create a series of vegetable side dishes with long shelf lives.

Launching at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show in Glasgow this week, the initial seven flavours - chorizo mash, wholegrain mustard mash, cheesy mash, haggis ‘n’ mash, colcannon mash, root veg mash and classic creamy farm mash - cook in under four minutes and whistle when the mash is evenly warmed and ready to eat.

Their four children, Alexander, Jessica, Hannah and James, have all returned to the farming business. The youngest sibling, James Stirling, makes the mash, and has spent many months perfecting the balance of ingredients for each flavour. 

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He says convenience doesn’t need to mean highly processed: “We have seen the rise in demand for fresh, healthy convenient food, but with a greater consciousness around health, customers don’t want a long list of preservatives. We wanted to create a high-quality, honest, home-style product that customers can fit into life, whether it’s feeding the family or a nutritious meal-in-one to sustain you at work. With quick cooking, we are sealing in the goodness of our potatoes from the farm for customers to enjoy all the freshness, taste and nutrients without unnecessary additives. The long shelf life then allows retailers to hold stock for longer, save costs in supply and reduce food waste.”

Using cutting edge technology, the vegetables are gently cooked and cooking in the packaging, retaining both taste and nutrition. The packaging is designed to whistle when the mash is evenly warmed, under four minutes in the microwave. 

There is no need to pierce the film and, unopened, it keeps warm in the tray for 15-20 minutes after cooking. The design stacks easily and avoids using unnecessary space on retail or fridge shelves and will still stay fresh in the fridge for weeks.

The mash is a flagship for all Upper Dysart Larder’s vegetable sides and soup packs which will also be available to buy direct from the farm’s vending machines in a beautiful coastal setting above Lunan Bay.

Eldest daughter Jessica, who has masterminded the on-farm Larder with the family, says: “We will be building the Upper Dysart Larder brand through our farmgate sales and social media, to support retailers to sell our products. Buying from the vending machines will not only be convenient and easy but seeing the farm will be part of the experience, particularly for young children to encourage them to see and enjoy their vegetables in a different way. There will usually be someone from our family around to chat to and find out more about what we do here, and the Larder is close to plenty of lovely beach walks so customers can make an outing of it.”

Upper Dysart Larder was at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show at the SEC in Glasgow from Sunday until yesterday, complete with a flying spud mascot.

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