Press Pack 2022

World Porridge Making Championships return to Carrbridge

Press Release:  16th March 2022

Porridge fanatics from around the world will gather in person once more in the Highland village of Carrbridge on Saturday 8 October 2022 for the 29th World Porridge Making Championships, which returns in its full glory after two years as a virtual event.

Entries for the 2022 competition open on Sunday 20 March at goldenspurtle.com.

30 competitors will vie for the highly coveted title of World Porridge Making Champion and the Golden Spurtle trophy, which is awarded to the contestant deemed to have made the best traditional porridge using just three ingredients – oatmeal, water and salt.

Competitors can use pinhead, course, medium or fine oatmeal, and entries are judged on appearance, texture, colour and taste.

There is also an additional prize for the best speciality porridge, where oatmeal can be combined with any other ingredients.

2019 World Porridge Making Champion, Lisa Williams, and Speciality Champion Nick Barnard, have both confirmed that they will return to Carrbridge to defend their titles.

Chef Neil Mugg, Chef Lecturer at Perth College UHI, whose impressive CV includes resort pastry chef at Gleneagles will head the judging panel, alongside Colin Bussey, former Executive Chef at Gleneagles and Food and Beverage Director at Cameron House, and New Zealand-born chef Kirsten Gilmour, Owner of The Bothy Bakery in Grantown on Spey. MFR’s Farmer Jonesy will MC the event.

The World Porridge Making Championships is organised by local volunteers supported by Carrbridge Ahead and the Community Council, and is sponsored by Hamlyns of Scotland, producers of Hamlyns Scottish Oatmeal and Hamlyns Scottish Porridge Oats.

Karen Henderson from the organising committee said: “The World Porridge Making Championships has been a huge part of village life for nearly 30 years. It brings visitors from around the globe to the Highlands, and we can’t wait to bring the event back in person in October. It would be really wonderful if some of those who have entered the virtual competition over the past two years are able to make the trip to join us.”

Alan Meikle from Hamlyns of Scotland said: “Carrbridge Community Council have done an excellent job with the virtual competition over the past two years, but nothing quite compares with the real thing, and we can’t wait to get back to Carrbridge in October for another unforgettable day of porridge making.”

Virtual World Porridge Making Championship ,

Saturday 8th October 2022

The Event – Overview

The World Porridge Making Championship occurs annually in the Scottish highland village of Carrbridge. 2022 will be the 29th year of the event.  After 2 virtual rounds in 2020 and 2021, the event will be back to an in-person competition.

Competition is limited to 30 competitors. Up to a dozen countries have been represented in a single event in the past and competition is fierce to be accepted as a contestant.

The main sponsor of the Golden Spurtle is Hamlyns of Scotland. 

Background/history

On porridge –

The origin of porridge is lost in the mists of time. Archaeologists have found it in 5000 year old corpses so we know it’s at least that old. Most countries have a dish that resembles the porridge we know today. It is made from a variety of ingredients – barley in the Far East; semolina in the southern hemisphere; corn in the Americas (grits) and juk in Korea.

Back in the day, many Scottish kitchens had a ”dresser”. Some of these dressers – allegedly – had a “porridge drawer”. This drawer would be lined and cleaned out at the start of the week. The family porridge would then be made for the whole week and poured into the drawer to set and cool. The family would be given slices of cold porridge for various meals throughout the week with the process starting again on the Monday. Or that is the story … Some families can recount their grandparents’ memories of the porridge drawer; others dispute their accuracy, saying ‘why wouldn’t they just use a big pot to cook it up every day?’ But perhaps this is to miss that today we serve and eat porridge hot …

On the history of the competition in Carrbridge

The first Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship was held in Carrbridge on 11 September 1994.

The event was the brain child of Roger Reed, then owner of the Fairwinds Hotel Carrbridge, and Secretary of the Carrbridge Community Council. Its aim – to raise the profile of Carrbridge (to put it on the map, and to attract visitors in the then ‘shoulder season’) and to do that through the promotion of a healthy food, porridge.

In 2012 Roger recalled the first competition: “At the time I was a member of the Community Council and, I think, the village tourist organisation. I was out walking the dog in the woods behind Fairwinds one day, thinking of how to promote Carrbridge. I knew that other small villages around the UK had world championships – conkers, tiddly winks and marbles etc. What could Carrbridge do? I used to make the porridge at Fairwinds and the idea of World Porridge came to mind. I went down to the Ecclefechan (Restaurant) to put the idea to Duncan Hilditch. In a very short time we decided that it would be possible to hold a competition in making porridge. Everybody had their own way of making porridge. Could we find the best? Duncan was sure that he knew enough top chefs to act as judges. We then drew up the rules for making basic porridge. We decided that to add interest we would add a speciality section where the competitors could let their imagination take over. It was probably all sorted in an hour or so. Duncan sorted out the judges. I organised the event. I put the idea to the Community Council; they approved and funded the initial event and (many) subsequent years. It was never intended to make money but not lose too much. Simple idea really”.

Entries in the first year came from all over Scotland, including from Dunoon and Iona. The first judges were all from a catering background. Chief judge was Bill Kendrew (a catering lecturer at Telford College). He was assisted by Robert Bruce (chef of Baxters of Speyside) and Derek Stewart (a lecturer at Lauder College, Dunfermline).

More recently, as the profile of the event has grown, it has attracted an increasing number of international competitors. Last year’s event attracted competitors from the US, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Russia as well as from Scotland, Ireland and England.

Today, under sponsorship, the event remains true to the principles established by its founders. It continues to be a means to promote Carrbridge through all things porridge, and it remains a not-for-profit activity. To that end, in 2010 the World Porridge Making Championship teamed with the Scottish-based charity, Mary’s Meals to establish an International World Porridge Day – 10 October every year. The Championships, through the Community Council, continue to support the community of Carrbridge. They also support the work of Mary’s Meals.

Cooking porridge

There are many arguments over how to cook porridge.

Whilst some may be content with the microwave version, the World Porridge Making Championship celebrates cooking porridge. So, ingredients matter.

First, there’s the oats. Oats are technical. Whole oats are called groats. These are the seeds of harvested oats, with the outer husks removed. Removing the husks is the first stage of the production process. The outer husks can be used in animal feed. Groats are then heated and dried in kilns. This removes their moisture and gives them their typically nutty flavour. It also allows them to be stored for longer. What happens next depends on whether they are being used to produce porridge oats or oatmeal. They are steamed, rolled and flaked to produce ‘rolled oats’ or ‘oatflakes’, which cook relatively quickly. Whole groats are rolled too. They produce chunkier oats which take slightly longer to cook. Oatmeal (the basic ingredient for the World Porridge Making Championship) is produced by milling groats, using either steel blade cutting techniques or stone wheel grinding. Various grades of oatmeal are produced: fine (oat flour), medium and pinhead. Pinhead oatmeal is the whole groat. It takes longer to cook than rolled oats or stoneground oatmeal, and many prefer to soak it in cold water overnight.

Water or milk? Or both? Sweet or savoury?

Irrespective of personal taste once it’s served, Scots advocate that it only contains salt, water and oats in the cooking, which is why these are the rules for the World Porridge Making Championship.  

Spurtles

The spurtle is a traditional tool made for stirring porridge whilst it is being cooked. It is designed to eradicate the lumps that can form when cooking. It is rod shaped, usually about 25cm long and is always made from wood.

The exact history of the spurtle is unclear. In its present form it is known to have existed since at least the 15th Century. Typically they were made by the person who used them, from any locally available wood, so from a branch or sometimes a root with a sharp knife or other implement.

There are two types of spurtle: (1) a rod spurtle, a simple straight piece of wood; (2) a couthie spurtle (meaning plain) which has a flat blade at one end. These are more difficult to make but had the advantage of being capable of being used to turn other items like eggs or oatcakes etc. The rod spurtle is by far the most popular today. It is usually turned on a lathe. They can be regularly shaped or tapered. It’s a matter of personal choice.

The top of each spurtle is decorated with various designs. Stags heads, orbs and triangle designs all feature but by far the most common is a stylised thistle because it is the national emblem of Scotland.

Spurtles are usually left unpainted and untreated in order that they can be freely used in food preparation. They are usually dishwasher proof.

When using a spurtle, tradition has it that it should be used with the right hand and stirred clockwise (to keep out the devil).

Competitors’ recipes

Porridge cooking at the Golden Spurtle goes to a completely different level to that of the basic breakfast. This year’s competitors’ recipes will be a closely guarded secret. Here though are examples of previous winners’ recipes:

http://www.goldenspurtle.com/recipes/

This year’s competition

We will update information on the main website regarding this year’s competitors and judges once this is available (June/July 2022).

Additional resources

1: Image gallery

In addition to the images available under Gallery, there is a full range of free-to-use, full resolution images available here:

http://www.pbase.com/carrhighlander/world_porridge_making_championships

Photo credits must be used – please credit James Ross in all reproductions.  

2: Major sponsors:

Golden Spurtle – Hamlyns of Scotland

https://hamlynsoats.co.uk

https://www.instagram.com/hamlynsoats/

https://twitter.com/hamlynsoats

https://www.facebook.com/Hamlyns

3: Additional links

Mary’s Meals

https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/

4: Golden Spurtle

https://www.facebook.com/GoldenSpurtle

https://twitter.com/golden_spurtle

https://www.instagram.com/goldenspurtle/

5: Contact

[email protected]spurtle.com