François-Xavier Craquelin raises pure-bred Normandy cows in the Seine-Maritime county, as well as being an organic cider farmer. In 2013, he decided to combine these two passions, raising his beef cows on cider. He set-up and trademarked the brand “Bœuf Cidré” (“Cidered beef”). A technique which produces a flavour with more of a taste of parsley, more flavour and more tenderness!
From Kobe beef to cidered beef
The Norman breed is well known for being a good milking breed, but its excellent meat is a forgotten quality. François-Xavier used this as the basis to make a new niche market for his meat and to showcase this “beautiful breed with a lovely parsley flavour.” He found his inspiration in an Asian speciality: Kobe beef. This is beef raised on Japanese beer and soaked in sake. As an organic cider producer, he adapted the technique and created a new concept with cider from his own production.
“Our herd today is the bringing together of cider, food autonomy and animal well-being. We don’t raise the animals to slaughter them as quickly as possible. We know it takes 3 to 4 years to raise a beef cow correctly. We even go to the point of taking our beef cows to the abattoir with our livestock in order to preserve the animal right until the end.”
Kept in pastures for 7 months of the year, the beef cows are fed on grass, alfalfa, linseed meal and rapeseed, all produced directly on the farm. A finely chosen and local diet to which is added: 15 litres of cider per beef cow per day during the 4 months preceding slaughtering! What is the benefit of this? Married to the exceptional way of raising the beef cows, the alcohol produces a higher quality of meat, characterised by a “higher parsley flavour”. (Editor’s note: the parsley flavour indicates the degree of fat infiltration found within the muscle mass.)
According to François-Xavier, the quality of the meat is down to the well-being of the animal. The beef cows on his farm are pampered. A massage brush has been installed in their shed, allowing them to relax whilst classical music is played in the background.
“We do not look to produce meat in great quantities, rather we look to showcase in a different way a few hectares of land, planting our seeds and bringing pleasure onto the tables by reviving old Normand recipes.”
Locally produced, sustainable development. François-Xavier aims for a strong environmental process. Between tradition and innovation, the farmer has become an inveterate innovator: spiced eaux-de vie with a rum taste, Norman mustard with an old-style taste.
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