Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
I didn’t realise quite how well I knew the brand name Opies – but when I was fortunate to receive a box of samples showcasing their range of products, the company branding looked very familiar. I soon noticed that a couple of their products were family staples. Their ginger in syrup is part of our not-so-traditional Caribbean Christmas cake recipe, and their pickled walnuts are a Christmas and birthday gift regularly given to one family member in particular.
Opies are long-established, dating back to 1880 and specialise in fine quality preserved food items.
2020 has seen them introduce three new ‘fruits-in-alcohol’ to their extensive range.
The selected fruits are steeped (the process of soaking in liquid which extracts the flavour of the fruit and softens it). Then they’re infused (the process of introducing a new element or flavour – in this range different alcohols) to produce a delicious and decadent product that can be served simply on its own or incorporated into many other dishes.
The new fruits in alcohol range are as follows:-
Opies Figs with Luxardo Dark Rum
Small tender green figs soaked in Luxardo® dark rum – a beautifully balanced partnership, rich and sweet with just enough kick of alcohol. Opies recipe suggestion is for a boozy Fig and Ginger Pudding which, although I haven’t made it, sounds remarkable (another of the pudding’s ingredients is the ubiquitous Opies stem ginger in syrup).
Price, approx £6.00)
Opies Apricots with Famous Grouse Whisky
This is for someone who appreciates a fine whisky, in this case, the classic, and hugely popular Famous Grouse®. The recipe on the packaging suggests serving as part of a chocolate trifle, but as tempting as that seems, I’d prefer them on their own, or possibly with some cream served with a large glass of whisky (however that might say more about me than the product).
Price, approx £6.00)
Opies Red Berries with Pink Gin (approx £6.00)
Gin is highly popular at the moment, so infusing it into red berries seems a natural progression. The red berries in question are raspberries, sour cherries and redcurrants. The pink gin was not overpowering (which pleased me because gin is not my favourite spirit). We tried a small quantity of these in a stem-glass with some single cream – simply delicious. Opie’s recipe suggestion is a lovely white chocolate and red berry tiramisu.
If you enjoy a gin and tonic, why not try adding a few of these berries to your glass?
Price, approx £6.00)
In addition to these new items, I also received a couple of products from their long-established range:-
Opies Cocktail Cherries
Cocktail cherries are a strange product. We very rarely make cocktails at home; however we do keep a jar handy, especially at Christmas, for guests. I’ve noticed an odd phenomenon about them; whenever a jar is opened, the contents, within a few days, miraculously disappear. In theory, when opened, and refrigerated, they last for four weeks, but they’re so hard to resist straight from the jar you’re more than likely to find it empty whenever you try to put one in a cocktail. These are delicious and far too tempting for their own good.
Price approx £1.55 for 125g
Opies Pickled Walnuts
A very traditional, some might say old-fashioned produce which in recent years has seen something of a resurgence. While they’re a great addition to cold plates such as a ploughman’s lunch, a cheese board or salads, they can be incorporated in many other warm dishes. Chopped up in sausage rolls, placed whole in beef and ale pies, even added to oriental beef ramen (which can be seen on Opies website). The lovely rich earthy-vinegar taste of the walnuts cuts through any decadent meat recipes.
Price approx £3.05 for 170g
The shelf lives for all of these products were very long. The fruits in alcohol were OK until mid-2022 (although they must be consumed within seven days of opening – believe me that won’t be a problem). The walnuts and cocktail cherries were dated until 2023. The cocktail cherries are to be consumed within 4 weeks.
All of the items reviewed were suitable for vegetarians and vegans; however, it’s best to check the labelling or website for advice about allergens.
All of these products were delicious. They’re available from a range of high street and on-line stores. I found prices varied quite widely so, as with most things, it’s best to do a bit of research to find the best deal (the prices I’ve quoted were found using a supermarket comparison site and then averaging).
Opies website showcases its extensive range of products and contains numerous recipe suggestions, from simple to challenging.
These lovely jars are a great addition to the store cupboard and would make excellent gifts for Christmas; because of their flexibility, they would be welcomed by adventurous and non-adventurous cooks alike.
This product can be purchased from here