‘I am a butcher and my Christmas started eight months ago’

Butchers were the only place shoppers could buy meat until the 1960s, back when high streets were dominated by independent grocers, bakers and clothing shops.

While they have remained a staple in many people’s shopping habits, the British butchery trade has been somewhat diminished by cheaper supermarket meat alternatives.

That said, Christmas is one of the few times of the year when households swap the supermarket for an authentic local butchery, perhaps like Robert Unwin’s award-winning business Roast Mutton in Kendal, Cumbria.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said: “Butchers are often undervalued but in my view, they have a rightful place in our high street.

“Artisan butchers provide high-quality products from trusted sources, they aren’t about flogging any old rubbish.”

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He continued: “For me, butchery is about quality customer service, training and knowledge of your trade and of what you’re selling – and I believe that’s becoming more and more important given the issues we’ve had with supermarkets over the years.”

When it comes to busy periods, like Christmas, Robert noted that it’s even more crucial to buy meat from a reputable source. But it’s a value people should hold all year round.

The butchery owner claimed: “All cuts of meat are best from a butcher because in the case of artisan butchers like me everything we sell is sourced from farmers we know personally, people who look after their animals and ensure they are properly looked after and raised to high very welfare standards are met.

“Alongside that, an artisan butcher is properly trained and knows how to trim, prepare, and present every single cut to exacting standards.”

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Preparations start incredibly early for those who sell ethically sourced, good quality meat, but it’s not just a few months like some people may assume.

Robert explained: “It might surprise people to know that we place our turkey orders in April. Christmas is essentially one day but the amount of preparation involved is scary.

“We generally spend three months prepping, it’s all manual labour so it takes time to get bodies of beef ready for sale, boning them out and making sure you have enough stock and then there’s the ageing process if you’re doing things properly.”

When picking out the turkey, beef or other joints to buy for your Christmas table, the butcher claims that there are a few things to look out for.

He said: “Your turkey needs to be dry with a bit of fat on the back, which will help with cooking. If your turkey’s wet it’s either been frozen or it’s not very fresh.

“When it comes to beef it needs to have a dark colouration and a bit of fat marbling. If it’s bright red you know it’s not going to be good.”

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