The good news is that The Cornish Pasty Association (CPA) is celebrating after receiving Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for its world famous pasty. The decision from the European Commission means that from now only Cornish pasties made in Cornwall and following the traditional recipe can be called ‘Cornish pasties’.
A genuine Cornish pasty has a distinctive ‘D’ shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), swede, potato, onion with a light seasoning. The pastry casing is golden in colour, savoury, glazed with milk or egg and robust enough to retain its shape throughout the cooking and cooling process without splitting or cracking. The pasty is slow-baked and no artificial flavourings or additives must be used. It must also be made in Cornwall.
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is slightly different from Protected Designation of Origin (PGO). Cornish clotted cream is one of the few British foods to have been awarded a Protected Designation of Origin. The ingredients, that is to say the milk in this case, all come from Cornwall as well as being entirely made in Cornwall. The best known makers of clotted cream is Rodda’s and the Rodda family has been producing fine Cornish clotted cream since 1890.
The CPA submitted the application for PGI in 2002 to protect the quality and reputation of the Cornish pasty and to ensure that only Cornish bakers who make genuine Cornish pasties use this denomination when selling and marketing their produce. Authentic Cornish pasties can still be baked elsewhere in the country but they will need to be prepared in Cornwall.
David Rodda from the Cornwall Development Company and spokesperson for the CPA, comments: “Receiving protected status for the Cornish pasty is good news for consumers but also for the rural economy. By protecting our regional food heritage, we are protecting local jobs. Thousands of people in Cornwall are involved in the pasty industry, from farmers to producers, and it’s important that the product’s quality is protected for future generations.”
Alan Adler, Chairman of the CPA adds: “By guaranteeing the quality of the Cornish pasty, we are helping to protect our British food legacy. We lag far behind other European countries like France and Italy, that have hundreds of food products protected, and it’s important that we value our foods just as much. Today’s announcement does not stop other producers from making other type of pasties but they won’t be able to sell them as ‘Cornish’.”
A Cornish pasty is also a recipe. It contains beef, swede, potato and onion which is why I think this PGI status has been confusing. There are an endless number of other pasty fillings that go into pasties which have been made in Cornwall by Cornish hands, but a ‘beef and stilton’ pasty, a ‘creamy chicken’ pasty or a ‘pork and apple’ pasty cannot be a ‘Cornish’ pasty even if made with the traditional crimping on the side. It is also quite possible to make a ‘genuine’ Cornish pasty outside Cornwall. I was always told that you had to be at least 3 generations Cornish to be able to make a proper one. So there must be plenty Cornish folk outside the county making pasties, but unless they slip this side of the Tamar it’s just a pasty.
PGI for the genuine Cornish pasty is a three tick-box thing: The proper Cornish pasty recipe, made in the traditional style, made only in Cornwall.
- The upper crust: Cornish pasty (independent.co.uk)
- Prima Bakeries ‘all’ Cornish pasty (beyondthepasty.wordpress.com)
- Crantock Bakery gives shoppers a taste of Christmas (beyondthepasty.wordpress.com)