Trifle, pickling and a proper breakfast... 10 food trends for 2021

Traditional English strawberry trifle with fresh whipped cream on white background

Sales of comfort food like trifle and sticky toffee pudding are on the rise in supermarkets at the start of 2021 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I realise I have left my start-of-year predictions article rather late, but it’s still January (just), and at the moment we can all do with looking into the future as much as we can.

Food fashions are usually driven by cutting-edge restaurants, but at a time when we are all spending much more time in our kitchens than eating out, let me suggest ten food and drink trends you might like to look out for in 2021.

1. Nostalgic comfort food

Times of crisis are not the occasion to beat yourself up about your diet and only eat chia seeds and organic quinoa.

Unsurprisingly, we are turning to food which reminds us of happier times, and which gives us the warm hug that we are all missing.

Old-fashioned puddings in particular will be a smash-hit - supermarkets are reporting soaring sales of sticky toffee pudding and trifle.

My 84 year-old mother-in-law asked me to make her a lemon meringue pie at the weekend; the smile on her face when I delivered it on Monday spoke volumes.

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2. Preserving, fermenting and pickling

Another nod to the past, and driven by the fact that we all have more time on our hands right now, home preserving will be big in 2021, with everything from traditional jams and marmalades to more exotic fare such as kimchi and sauerkraut set to be on the menu.

At a time when food supply is under pressure, this will have the added benefit of avoiding waste.


Pickling food such as cabbage is a great way to avoid throwing vegetables away - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Proper bread

The first lockdown led to a flurry of sourdough baking at home – followed by the realisation that making proper bread requires great skill, oodles of time, and commitment.

The queues outside every artisan baker suggest that people have got the message. We want quality daily bread, and a proper local bakery is the only place to get it, whatever the supermarkets might claim.

4. Breakfast

Do you remember those heady days when mornings were a blur o getting the kids to school and embarking on the daily commute?

The first meal of the day was often a cereal bar gobbled down in the car and a takeaway coffee.

Now our days are more fluid, many of us have the time to sit down for a proper breakfast. Time to enjoy that homemade marmalade on that artisan bread, or those preserved fruits with yoghurt.

Toast, knife and orange jam on dark wooden background

More time at home in the mornings could see a new focus on having a proper breakfast, says Andy Newman - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Seasonal food

This one will be rather forced on us: the Brexit-related problems of importing foodstuffs mean that we will be increasingly reliant on UK-grown, seasonal food.

That’s a good thing as far as it goes, but don’t come crying to me when you can’t get salads next winter.

6. Better quality meat

The relentless haranguing of meat-eaters by the vegan lobby might be tiresome, but we are all aware that for health and environment reasons, we shouldn’t be eating meat at every meal.

Lockdown has been generally good news for local, independent butchers; people wanting to avoid supermarkets have discovered that their local butcher can provide much better quality, and have largely stayed loyal. If we all must eat less meat, then let’s make the meat we do eat better quality.

7. Italian speciality meats

There are fashionable ingredients every year, and in 2021, two of them come from Italy. Guanciale, or cured pork cheeks, is the vital ingredient in spaghetti carbonara; until now it has been nigh on impossible to get hold of, but now it’s stocked by Waitrose.

Likewise, nduja, the spicy, soft, spreadable pork sausage from Calabria, is having a moment. Delicious on pizza, it too is benefitting from being stocked at Waitrose.

Calabrian 'nduja salumi on bread from southern Italy, with chilli on black background. Narrow focus

Nduja, the spicy, soft, spreadable pork sausage from Calabria is now being stocked at Waitrose - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

8. Speciality seasoning

Of course, salt and pepper never goes out of fashion, but each year brings newly-trendy seasonings. In 2021, it will be seaweed, Himalayan pink salt, and bottarga, the salted, cured fish roe that tastes like parmesan, and which has been made popular by Nigella Lawson.

9. Sherry

Regular readers will know that I have always championed sherry as the most under-rated, under-valued alcoholic drink there is.

At last it seems the world has caught up with me; sherry sales are booming, and a much wider and more interesting selection is widely available. Forget Granny’s Bristol Cream, and enjoy a crisp Manzanilla, a nutty Palo Cortado, or a lusciously sweet Pedro Ximenez.

10. Red, white and rosé wine

You might think this is not an earth-shattering trend, but what I really mean is that 2021 looks like being the year when we finally see through the abomination that is ‘orange wine’.

If you’re not familiar with it (count yourself lucky), it’s white wine made in such a way that it also contains phenols, pigments and tannins, which are as appetising as they sound.

The big ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ trend of the last couple of years, we are finally seeing sense, and 2021 will be the year we return to tried-and-tested winemaking techniques.