The proof of the pudding is in the eating for long-established firm
- Credit: Archant
As cold weather starts settling in, more of us start thinking about Christmas – which is all about traditions and special treats.
Some treats, namely Christmas puddings, are made in Great Chesterford by Cole's Puddings, which celebrates 80 years of existence this year.
Cole's puddings was started by Mr Albert Cole as a family bakery in 1939 and was taken over by his son, Christopher. It was later sold to Wilkin & Sons and is now operating as a purpose-built business for Christmas puddings. The family business spirit is still present according to Simon Hatcher, Managing Director of Cole's puddings: "It wouldn't still be considered a family business in the technical term but we consider ourselves a family here."
The puddings can be found in delicatessen and farm shops, as well as in Tiptree tea rooms such as the one based on the Rose and Crown Walk, Saffron Walden. They are sold all over the world, all year round, through colespuddings.com, with the biggest market being the UK. However, there is also a good market abroad, formed by expats.
The ingredients used are a mixture between local and international, according to the director: "The main ingredients we use are dried fruits and sugar, so we get dried fruits from South Africa, Turkey and Australia. We follow the crop around depending on the season and then we use a local flour miller. Where possible, we try and use local, but we don't grow many grapes and currants in this country, so you have to source dried fruits from Turkey."
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Mr Hatcher also talked about how Cole's progressed with the society: "Christmas puddings used to have beef suet in them. Most younger people would go 'ewww, beef suet, no'… so we developed it into a vegetable suet. We have done some with beef suet for customers who want the real traditional puddings.
"We are trying to reduce the plastic in the packaging waste. There's certain amount of pressure from customers who want that. This year we converted our cellophane to compostable cellophane. We try to reduce our packaging as much as possible and when we can it's all recyclable."
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There are a lot of puddings options to 'suit different tastes', such as diary-free, organic or alcohol-based ones:
"Our organic pudding and quite a few of our puddings are vegan.
"The pudding that started the business has beer in it, so it's a little bit distinctive but it gives it a nice flavour, not too sweet. It's ale from a local brewery," said Mr Hatcher.
See our video for more on how the puddings are made and what the options include.