Made in Cheshire - Galore! preserves
PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 June 2015
In the first of a new series about top local products, Emma Mayoh meets a woman making perfect preserves in Pott Shrigley
Claire Plover has a busy summer ahead of her. For months now she has been flooded with requests for her jams chutneys and preserves. While many supermarkets and big food manufacturers churn out and stock seasonal foods year round, the 48-year-old, who lives in Bollington is determined to stick to what is available.
She explained: ‘For me it is about embracing the seasons and making my preserves as we go through the year, using produce when it is at its best.
‘It also makes it more special and makes you appreciate it more. It is worth the wait. I’ve already got customers ringing up wanting to put their orders in for preserves I make later in the year. It’s a huge compliment.’
Claire was a film editor for seven years in London, working on documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC. But it was when she went travelling around the world for a year that her passion for food was ignited. When she returned to the UK she did a Cordon Vert course at The Vegetarian Society in Altrincham and worked for a short time at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London.
She said: ‘This was when I really started to discover artisan food and the wonderful and dedicated food producers in the UK. It was, along with my travelling, such an enlightening experience. Neal’s Yard was a dream job but I really wanted to get into the kitchen.
‘So I worked for The Quiet Revolution, a small award-winning organic soup company. I did product development and helped them set up three organic cafes in central London at a time when it wasn’t popular like it is now. I learned all about the principles and importance of seasonal eating here. It was amazing.’
Armed with all of this knowledge, Claire moved north with husband, Dave Gubbins, and set up Galore! five years ago. Eating the seasons is an integral part of the business. If the food is not in season, she simply doesn’t make it – hence the long list of customers waiting for the next batch of jam.
Claire loves developing modern interpretations of classic preserves using interesting and sometimes unusual flavour combinations. Some of her products match strawberry with geranium and cranberry with Campari. Claire prepares all of her products by hand and they are cooked in small batches. She used to make everything at home but now she creates her products in a specialist unit a mile up the road in Pott Shrigley. Her bestsellers include her piccalilli, which is so popular she has and continues to consider running this line as a separate business in its own right.
Claire is not just determined on working within the seasons. She is also a person flying the flag for Cheshire and champions the produce grown and produced in it. Many of the ingredients for her seasonal preserves are sourced from the county including Northern Harvest in Croft, gooseberries from Willington Fruit Farm in Kelsall and beers from Bollington Brewery which pack a punch to the real ale chutney. She also puts gluts of fruit grown by Bollington residents to good use by using them in her products.
She said: ‘I’m very proud to tell people I’m doing this from Cheshire. It’s such an important part of what I do and what I am about. I am a member of Taste Cheshire and my products have the Made in Cheshire logo on them.
‘Sometimes in the autumn I put notices up around Bollington asking if anyone has any gluts of fruit or vegetables they have grown. I then trade Galore! products for any produce that I am given - I got 30 kilos of plums off one gardener last year.’
Claire’s efforts over the past few years have not gone unnoticed. Galore! products have attracted great accolades – more than 20 in fact including Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food and at the World Jampionships. A high point was her win at the World Marmalade Awards, held in the Lake District earlier this year, when her Seville orange and Amontillado sherry marmalade received a Double Gold, the highest accolade handed out. She has received several awards in previous years at the famous event but this was a high point. As well as the prestige, the win has also meant the preserve will now be stocked on the shelves at Fortnum and Mason.
Claire, who also does a catering range for pubs and cafes, said: ‘I wanted to stand out from the crowd and I hope I have done that. Being in Fortnum and Mason felt like a huge achievement. A special breakfast was held there to celebrate marmalade. It was a lovely, lovely occasion
‘I’m very proud of my products and I have reached the point I set myself originally. Now, it’s about continuing to make really high quality products. I want to stock more places around the country and grow the business in that way. I’m having so much fun with it and I am going to make sure it stays that way.’