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How 172-year-old secret family recipe inspired food business Zingy Tingy Beetroot

Nic Flavell.
Nic Flavell.

Nic Flavell’s work history had always been in sports retail. But recently, he decided to make a U-turn in his career.

Residing in Westhill, the 46-year-old has adored cooking and experimenting with food and flavours in his spare time over the years.

This love, along with the discovery of a 172-year-old family beetroot recipe, led Nic down the path of establishing his own food business, Zingy Tingy Beetroot, late last year.

The business offers jarred beetroot and pickled onions and now boasts two products in its portfolio, which are produced at the business owner’s family home.

Zingy Tingy Beetroot and Tingy Tangy Onions. Picture by Kenny Elrick 

Fond memories

“The recipe dates back to around 1850,” Nic said.

“We know it came from my great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Insley, and we believe it was her mother, Ann Smith, that passed it onto her.

“The heritage that we have is wonderful and I have very fond memories as a child and teenager making beetroot with my mum, nan and auntie as they had all known the secret recipe.”

The family would often dish out their homemade beetroot to friends and other relatives who loved the unique taste.

Elizabeth Insley, Nic’s great, great grandmother, and her Husband Abraham Callier.

It wasn’t until many years down the line “over a few wee drams of whisky” that a friend of Nic suggested selling the product to the masses.

And it was that same night that inspired the brand’s name.

Nic said: “Most people ask where the name comes from and I refer to the same whisky night.

“In my attempt to describe the taste and flavours, I blurted out Zingy Tingy Beetroot and from there the idea and brand was born.”

An instant hit

The first opportunity for foodies to get their hands on the jarred products was at the most recent Crathes Castle Christmas Market, and Nic received wonderful feedback.

The founder has been making the products at home ever since, which includes his Zingy Tingy Beetroot and Tingy Tangy Onions – also made from a secret family recipe.

Nic hopes to expand the range in the future as other pickle recipes have been discovered, too. He is working on these behind the scenes.

Zingy Tingy Beetroot is sold in 768g jars. Picture by Kenny Elrick 

He said: “We’re planning to come up with some exciting names for the additional products to add to the range.

“Our pickled onions are wonderful. They are sweet, packed with flavour and crunchy all the way through, like a good pickled onion should be. You won’t find any soft mushy onions in our jars!”

“The beetroot is sliced and the secret pickle gives a zingy and tingy taste on the palate, not spicy but a real lively flavour that develops in the mouth as you eat.

“It leaves a very tingy aftertaste that is also very moreish and has you going back for another slice very quickly.”

Nic Flavell. Picture by Kenny Elrick

All of the beetroot used comes from a field near Blackburn, six miles from Nic’s home.

The beetroot is available in 768g jars, while the pickled onions come in 725g jars. All jars cost £4.

Where can I find the products?

Nic has been determined to make his presence known in the local producer scene and is set to attend 12 events this year across the north-east, including Taste of Grampian.

The products can also be found in 12 stores – a mixture of farm shops, speciality stores and butchers – from Inverbervie and Fraserburgh to everywhere in between.

Nic wants this figure to continue to grow and said: “We want to get our pickles on as many shelves as possible in the north-east.”

Customers can also buy the beetroot and pickled onions on the Zingy Tingy Beetroot website.

Tingy Tangy Onions. Picture by Kenny Elrick 

‘We are actively looking to expand’

Bound to outgrow the kitchen of Nic’s home, he is actively looking to expand and find a suitable retail location.

“Unfortunately the costs around Aberdeen are very high and difficult to financially justify,” Nic added. “But we do recognise that we need a much larger space.

“When we have dedicated premises, we will then look at employing some staff and gaining SALSA accreditation.”


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