Free State food terroir
Did you know?
The Free State produces over 70% of South Africa’s grain.
The Free State food terroir reflects the history, climate, cultures of its people and the terrain of its places.
The essence of Free State foods is to be found in the excellence of its agricultural output. From the rolling maize fields of the north to the morogo (wild spinach) of the majestic Maluti Mountains; and the cherry plantations, apple orchards, and asparagus fields of the east, the foods of the Free State province are deliciously diverse.
A trip through South Africa's agricultural heartland is full of deliciously mood improving, waistline-expanding epicurean experiences.
The land-locked Free State experiences dry, cold winters. Warm summer rains feed a land that nourished San hunter-gatherers, Basotho pastoralists, and Afrikaner farmers. The province is South Africa's granary, a major grower of maize and sunflowers, and produces about 40% of the country's potato crop.
The Free State is renowned for its dairy, so don't leave the province without trying traditional Afrikaner treats like melkos (dumplings cooked in milk and doused with butter, sugar and cinnamon) and melk tert (milk tart) a baked custard tart flavoured with naartjie (tangerine) peel, and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Free State farmers also rear beef, lamb, and game for venison. Visit any specialist butcher in the Free State and you're guaranteed wonderful boerewors (farmer's sausage), sosaties (kebab or soulvaki) and marinated chops for your braai (barbeque).
Your quest to discover the food terroir of the Free State wouldn't be complete without fresh-baked bread, roasted mielies (corn on the cob), and foil-baked patat (potatoes), all sourced from the within the province.
If you are seeking a fine dining evaluation of the food terroir of the Free State, hungry travellers should head for Bloemfontein, the capital city of the province, where De Oude Kraal Country Estate uses seasonal, local produce to cook superb roast lamb, and lemon-leaf topped beef Bobotie.
Orchards of quince, pomegranate, and crab apple await the traveller who arrives at Kestell's Karma Backpackers Lodge where breakfasts of homemade with organic preserves are always the order of the day; and more recently, the Green Goose farm, near Rosendal, is producing award-winning, organic Free State cheeses.
For Basotho feasting, visit the cultural village in the Golden Gate National Park, where, in addition to eating a traditional meal, you can go on an indigenous edible plant and medicinal herb tour.
In the town of Clarens, enjoy deli-style dining, fresh trout, and an array of pickled and preserved vegetables and fruit jams. Cherries are grown in the Eastern Free State towns of Clocolan, Ficksburg and Fouriesburg; the latter two are also the country's premier producers of asparagus. November is cherry picking season in the Eastern Free State and the Ficksburg Cherry Festival is a must for lovers of the crimson fruit.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
De Oude Kraal Country Estate
Tel: +27 (0)51 5640 733/636
2 Piet Retief Street
Tel: +27(0)58 653 1433
The Maloti Tourist Office
Tel: +27 (0)51 924 5131
Alida Bikane Tavern
1390 Ramohapi Street
Mobile: +27 (0)82 710 9714
Basotho Cultural Village
Tel: +27 (0)58 721 0300
Fouriesburg Info Centre
Tel: +27 (0)058 223 0429
Mobile: +27 (0)79 897 1669