Tag Archives: Food & Drink

Three Great Taste Awards For North Yorkshire Producer

A York artisan pickle business that created a range of jams in response to customer demand has won three Great Taste awards.

Of the new range of six jams made by Puckett’s, three were awarded gold stars at the Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards.

Puckett’s Blackcurrant Jam was awarded two gold stars whilst Puckett’s Strawberry and Gooseberry and Orange Blossom jams were each awarded one gold star.

Often described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world, the prestigious Great Taste scheme is the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards accreditation scheme. This year’s competition attracted over 14,000 entries that were blind-tasted by 500 judges between March and July.

Sarah Puckett, who founded the award-winning artisan business, Puckett’s Pickles almost a decade ago, is delighted with the news: “We’re passionate about producing wholesomely natural, gloriously colourful and joyfully British jams, pickles, ketchups, chutneys and condiments and we’re delighted that our new jams have been rewarded with prestigious gold stars.”

The judges’ feedback for the two-star Blackcurrant Jam included: “Exquisitely balanced, high in acidity and full of bright cassis flavour. The judges loved how much fruit was extracted into the product and found this to be a real artisan product. Would be just wonderful stirred into sauces for game meats.”

“We loved the gentleness of the orange blossom against the tartness of the gooseberries. We think this is a unique product, and really more ish” was how they described the Gooseberry and Orange Blossom Jam, and the feedback on the Strawberry Jam included: “This jam has a clear intense strawberry aroma and flavour. We liked the fact that this preserve had such a low sugar content which is brave and challenging when it comes to setting and consistency. We enjoyed the mouthfeel which was smooth, more like a compote and it felt very natural, almost like pure strawberry.”

Ms Puckett is delighted that the judges picked up on the low sugar content: “All our jams, pickles, chutneys, condiments are naturally 24 calories or less per tablespoon. It proves that, if you use high-quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients, you don’t need to compromise flavour over calories.”

Ms Puckett, who started making small batches of pickles in her kitchen in 2013, scaled up her operations in 2017 and now hand makes Yorkshire jams, pickles, chutneys, ketchups and condiments in a bespoke factory north of York that is dubbed the ‘Pickle Palace’.

The Puckett’s jam range also includes Bramble and Bay Leaf, Raspberry and Rhubarb and Rose Water whilst the Puckett’s Pickles range comprises classic chutneys including Carrot and Cardamom, seasonal specials like Cucumber and Lemon and the perennial favourite, Puckalilli.

All are available from farm shops, delis and cheesemongers nationwide and online from www.puckettspickles.co.uk. Ms Puckett also ships her eponymous range to Europe and North America.

Building A Sustainable Business On Top Of The Wold!

At Wold Top Brewery their vision is simple; they want to make great tasting beer, using home grown, and sustainably sourced ingredients for the rest of Yorkshire and the world to enjoy! Paul Andrews visited the brewery and spoke to Kate Balchin to find out more.

As Kate explains, “As a brewery we turn 20 next year and a lot has happened since we founded the business. Our family has farmed 600 acres high on the Yorkshire Wolds for generations and our aim is to continue to do so!”

“Sustainability is key, we want to work in balance with nature so we grow trees and hedges to offset the carbon footprint, we plant areas for birds and wildlife, we consider the bees that are essential for the pollination of the crops and we use crop rotations to keep the soil in good heart. We also use renewable energy from our own wind turbines and have our own water supply from natural chalk aquifers under the farmland,” she continues.

“The farm is where I grew up and this part of the world is special. Creating the brewery to make use of the crops that we grow and continue our philosophy of home grown ingredients was a simple step for us to make and Alex (my husband and co-founder of the business) and I have put a lot of time into perfecting the plan and developing the business too. One of our biggest challenges is not talking about business all of the time because it is something that we are so passionate about,” Kate continues.

The business has grown quickly and the family continue to invest in their products and it shows. “We have won many awards for our beers over the years and are proud of our range of all year round and special edition cask, keg and bottled beers that include Wold Top Bitter, gluten free beer Against the Grain and best selling favourite Scarborough Fair IPA,” adds Kate. “We are proud of what we have achieved to date and want to be valued and for people to continue to respect and value the products that we make.”

As a family business Wold Top is very much values based, focused on creating and maintaining a conscious brand.

“We set out to build a sustainable business and to ensure that we were considerate in our planning, development and execution,” explains Kate. “We live, work and play in a wonderful area of Yorkshire and want to maintain this balance for future generations. Hence growing our own barley in the most sustainable way we can, sourcing our power from the wind and drawing our water from underground aquifers deep in the chalk.”

As a company they also balance their impact on a broader spectrum too. They employ local people who contribute back into the local economy and they support other local businesses, venues and events as much as we can.

Clearly, beer is at the heart of what this young family business is all about. “We want every pint of Wold Top to be enjoyed as much as the previous one, so we balance our malts and hops to give flavours, aromas and tastes that can be enjoyed time after time, pint after pint. It is a great business to work in and we are proud of all that we have achieved to date,” adds Kate, “but we also have plenty of plans for the future too. We plan to introduce more products and to continue to sell our beers to businesses that share our values and culture, that are aligned with our thinking and respect our products for their provenance too.”

All businesses depend on their people and Wold Top have a committed team to help the dream flourish.

“Our team are fantastic and really understand what Wold Top is all about. They understand our values as a family and our purpose and they are integral to the achievement of our vision for the business too,” continues Kate.

“Hospitality is building back after the pandemic and what has been a difficult couple of years and we have plans to grow too. We may be a small business but have big ambitions, a real passion and determination to succeed and a plan to continue to build a sustainable family business that cares about what it does and how it does it. We are looking to the next 20 years and beyond with the intention of creating something truly sustainable that may well pass on to future generations too,” concludes Kate.

Give and take. Perfectly Balanced. On top of the Wold. Wold Top!

Creating The Spirit Of Yorkshire!

The fields at Hunmanby Grange are where it all begins for Spirit of Yorkshire, the first single malt whisky made in, and of Yorkshire. It is created by a family where the narrative is so important, the underlying essence of the brand and is created from field to bottle on the Yorkshire coast near Filey Bay.

This is a story of innovative tradition, respect for the past and associated traditions of an industry that is synonymous with Scotland, whilst bringing their own thinking to the table too. Paul Andrews went to the distillery to speak to Jenni Ashwood to find out more.

“We are a family and a business that wants to do things properly. That’s why we’re obsessed with every step of the distilling process, from field to bottle, using 100% homegrown barley. Mentored by renowned whisky expert Dr. Jim Swan, we respect tradition whilst applying our own thinking to create a whisky that doesn’t just replicate Scotch but is delicious in its own right,” explains Jenni.

“All of the barley we use is grown at Hunmanby Grange on our family farm, and we get our water from two sources, sunk deep into the chalk, which is also on the farm.”

“We’re in control of every stage of the growing and distilling process, from choosing the variety of barley and how it is grown, right through to bottling ourselves at the distillery.”

“Very few other distilleries in the UK can claim this and it’s something we’re exceptionally proud of,” she continues.

“We’ve invested in two of the largest Forsyth pot stills operating in the UK outside of Scotland and have also added a four-plate copper column into our process that works in tandem with our spirit still which adds to the variance of the Spirit of Yorkshire distillery. It’s all part of our commitment to combining tradition with new thinking to create something out of the ordinary. Our stills were fired up for the first time in May 2016 and we have thousands of various cask types – including sherry butts and bourbon casks, all of which will help create the subtle, complex flavours of our unique spirit,” she adds.

Every aspect of the business has a link back to the part of Yorkshire that they are based, and where the family have been farming for generations. It is an integral part of the narrative, and the reason for the name of the whisky, ‘Filey Bay’ which is just a short drive away. It is also featured by way of the gannets featured on the labels.

“Along with these fearless, precise, graceful and purposeful birds, we’ve prospered here for many years. Similar to their characteristics, we have a homing instinct, so wherever we travel to explore new ideas, we always return to this special place, a stone’s throw away from Bempton Cliffs, home to the largest gannet colony on the UK mainland. This is where we live and work, most importantly where our whisky was born. That’s why we chose the gannet as our talisman,” adds Jenni.

Jenni is the second generation of the family involved in the business and like many, she left home to pursue a career in London. Her career was in the world of marketing and has certainly been of benefit to the business since she got involved. Conscious of what the business needed and with the skills in place from working in an agency in London, she moved back home with her husband and started a role in the business.

“I was always aware of the need to prove myself but I had been developing brand strategies for clients in the luxury goods space so there was a natural fit, but even then you do question yourself and never want to fall into the ‘imposter syndrome’ position,” she adds.

“That was not the case and the role was perfect, and with a young family the role allows me to continue to build the business, develop professionally doing something I love, and live in a place that is more than home too,” she continues.

It is abundantly clear that the ‘PLACE’ plays an incredibly special part of the journey of the business and that sustainability is important too. At Spirit of Yorkshire they are creating a business that will offer a legacy to future generations.

The product is well respected, award winning and exported to 12 countries and the whisky embodies the very essence of where it is created.

“It really is all about the place, the driving force for the brand and an integral part of the messaging too. We have an honest field to bottle philosophy and an ethos that respects tradition but we still like to do things our own way too,” concludes Jenni.

Traditional Values Remain At The Heart Of Soanes

Driven by animal welfare, quality and service since 1947, the family behind the Soanes name are proud of their traditional values of quality and service and they pride themselves on rearing Yorkshire’s tastiest chickens. From traditional beginnings when they delivered chicken to customers in wicker baskets, they now deliver five days a week throughout Yorkshire and beyond using their own drivers and a fleet of refrigerated vehicles.

The wicker baskets may have gone, but their commitment to delicious tasting chicken, reared to high standards of animal welfare, remains the same. Everything they do is produced today and delivered tomorrow. From farm to customer within 24 hours – you don’t get any fresher than that. Paul Andrews met non-family Managing Director, Ben Lee, to find out more.

Ben was born and brought up locally and has known the Soanes family all his life. “My father was a local gamekeeper so we have always been around the farming and land-owning community. I finished my A levels and applied for a job in despatch with Soanes and that was the start of a long and rewarding career. I got hooked on factory life and was fortunate to explore many roles within the business and each one afforded a different insight into the business and ultimately I was promoted to Managing Director last year.”

Ben has always been interested in the food sector and his journey within Soanes has continued to pique his interest. “One of my early birthday presents, at the age of around 12, was a food processor which I used to make sausages and my love of food continues to this day. Being promoted to lead the business was the end of a journey of discovery within the business. I always wanted to know more and was always asking questions, trying to make improvements and was encouraged to do so. I rose through the ranks and now have the opportunity to lead the family business.”

Soanes is a strong and well-respected brand, producing excellent quality chicken from six of their own farms and an additional couple of local Yorkshire farms. All of the chickens are reared on real farms by real farmers locally too. “Our relationships with all of the farmers go back a long way, through generations of farmers from the same families, and the farmers name is on the packaging of the finished product which provides real authenticity and food provenance,” continues Ben.

Like many other businesses, Soanes have experienced challenges recruiting the right staff but have invested to aid the process. “Our training hub has certainly helped attract staff and we are in the process of developing a new staff hub, investing in their training and promoting career progression opportunities too,” continues Ben, “and ultimately I am the product of the investment in staff over time too.”

Soanes are celebrating 75 years as a family business and are very proud of all that they have achieved. Sustainability is high on the agenda, as is the welfare and well-being of their chickens and they are proud to say that most of their chickens are farmed within seven miles of the factory. The business provides significant employment to the local community, as it has done for all of its 75 years and is proud of their journey to date.

As Ben concludes, “We are a family business and there are plenty of connections to other families who have provided employees from a number of generations, and we have strong connections to local long-standing faming families too. Our underlying family values are important and create the culture of the business and the constant drive to produce excellent products too. Everyone has a role to play in helping do what we do and it is a real team effort to keep things moving, and improving.”

“We are constantly improving operations and the way that we do what we do, building new, innovative homes for our chickens and investing in new technology such as the biomass plant to provide power. Like many other family firms, we know we have an important role in our community and take steps to improve constantly,” he continues.

“As the saying goes, the ‘proof is in the pudding’ and we are constantly receiving messages complimenting our chicken, which remains so important to us. We remain incredibly proud of our traditional values of quality and service and will never tire of rearing Yorkshire’s tastiest chickens,” concludes Ben.