Way back in March I had the great privilege to meet Paul of Paul's Pickles at the MK Handmade and Vintage Extravaganza. I was so impressed by his delicious range of pickles and chutneys and the really simple yet beautiful packaging.
Paul very kindly agreed to do a little interview for the blog. So here's some food for thought as well as mouthwatering pictures of the handmade goodies. Mmm!
What led you to set up Paul’s Pickles?
I went to our local farmer’s market but couldn’t find anything that I particularly wanted to buy… so I went home and tried making something I would want myself – locally sourced (where possible), locally produced chutneys and relishes, and I haven’t stopped since.
So you keep bees…?
I have two hives at the moment, on the friendly farm behind our garden. They produce enough honey for my family and friends, and to be used in some of my chutneys.
It’s probably unfair to ask but do you have a favourite pickle or chutney?
I would have to say chilli-lilli – piccalilli with a kick up the backside!
Do you have a favourite dish which incorporates one of your products? Can we have the recipe?
My favourite would have to be Piccalilli – I like it spread on toast, covered with cheddar cheese and grilled.
Without giving away trade secrets how do you go about creating a new product?
I get a lot of feedback and ideas from customers at fairs and the farmshops I stock, particularly when it comes to adapting traditional recipes to a more modern taste, or giving them a bit of a twist. I came up with my trademark Carriots of Fire because I wanted to create something completely different, with a unique taste and texture. I had a few trial and error runs, trying techniques I had picked up from different recipes, and landed with my most popular pickle! Sometimes I trawl through traditional chutney recipe books and adapt the ingredients to what’s in season locally – this is how Carriots of Fire became modified into Chilli-zini when I found myself with a tonne of local courgettes.
Can you name three major influences on your products?
First is the good local produce which will always influence which ingredients I choose to use – with piccalilli for instance, I use broad beans in spring and runner beans in summer. Feedback is really key too – mainly the faces of those who test my hot chutneys at fairs (dubbed ‘The Man Test’), but also from friends and family.
My third would have to be the supportive, constructive criticism I get from my wife and daughters.
Can you name three things about where you live that benefit/inspire you and your work?
This year there’ll be street parties a go go with the Diamond Jubilee – which pickle would you recommend to her Majesty?
As a keen supporter of the Commonwealth, I’m sure she’d appreciate some Mango,
Kashmir or Spicy Pineapple.
What can we look forward to from you in 2012?
I’ve already had a massive weekend at Milton Keynes Vintage and Handmade Crafts Fair in March, and I have the same event on the 26th May. On Father’s Day I’m going to the Chilli Fiesta at Shuttleworth so we’re expecting a big turnout for the Man Test. As usual I’ll be at various Sue Ryder events throughout the year, so please check my website www.pauls-pickles.com and keep up to date with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Pauls-Pickles.