This week we'd like to introduce you to the passionate creator of a 'deliciously different' range of preserves. Claire Kelly, owner and mastermind behind Passion Preserved took time out of her busy day to chat to us about her range which is now available at SoulBia.
When and why did you start Passion Preserved?
I started the business in 2012 when I retired early from a career as a chartered account. I had always loved food and growing fruit and vegetables and I wanted to see if I could make a business out of what was my true passion. I was lucky to be in a position where I could try it for a year to see if it worked and thankfully it did.
Where you are based?
I’m based in Ballinderry, Co Antrim. I work from home where I am fortunate enough to have loads of space for a large vegetable and fruit garden, an orchard and a commercial size polytunnel. As you can imagine making preserves on a regular basis is a rather “fragrant” business so I also have a purpose built kitchen unit at my home which enables me to separate my home and work life.
What makes Passion Preserved different to other products on the market?
The first thing that makes me different is that I only make savoury preserves. I don’t really have a sweet tooth so everything I grow I automatically think what meat/cheese/vegetable etc would that go with?
Someone once told me at a food event that my products were “Deliciously Different’ and that stuck. I try to choose products slightly outside of the mainstream or with a different twist - so for example my Vampire Chilli Jelly takes a traditionally made Victoria Plum Jelly and matches it with a homegrown Vampire chilli (which tastes slightly plum like) to make a chilli jelly with a sweet start and a kick of heat on the finish.
As for my production I can only speak for what I do rather than anyone else. I like to eat clean and I wouldn’t put anything into my products that would contradict that. All Passion Preserved products are Vegan Friendly and fit into SoulBia's Vegan/Plant Based category. For me that is really important as apart from the ethical issues some people have dietary concerns such as lactose intolerance and so search out totally vegan ingredient products.
I do have customers asking me could I not make them sugar free (or in the case of my two Indian products Fat Free). I take the attitude that I would rather use sugar than an artificial sweetener or rapeseed oil to fry my spices and eat less of a product rather than look for a chemical alternative.
When I first started scaling up my production from my home kitchen lots of people started offering me suggestions of where to get dried vegetables/thickeners/emulsifiers etc - I am not interested. My products are still made in exactly the same way as I did at the start and that involves fresh vegetables/fruit, whole spices, chillies, ginger etc. I just don’t think that shortcuts are possible as they result in a loss of flavour and that is a road I am not prepared to take.
Why have you chosen to work with SoulBia?
SoulBia was attractive because of the strength of its commitment to artisan producers and its focus on delis and independent retailers. They are enthusiastic about my products and committed to growing sales. I also love the concept of a place where people can buy really clean food online. Not everyone has access to a shop where they can buy Freefrom food - and often the supermarket offerings are limited (my mother-in-law is coeliac so I have experience).
Dare I say it I also love the idea of a group of women running a business together :) To find out more about my listing with SoulBia check out this article by BuyNIFood.