Elaine Bickle, who has been making preserves since childhood for family and friends, was encouraged by her fans to start her own business. The result is Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves and it has already won an award at the 2016 Taste Awards
A home preserve-making hobby is set to become big business for a York mum who has seen the popularity of her chutneys and jams soar.
Elaine Bickle, who has been making preserves since childhood for family and friends, was encouraged by her nearest fans to launch her own business selling her wares.
The result is Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves and one flavour has already made waves in the Yorkshire food scene after a win at the 2016 Taste Awards, run by The Yorkshire Post and regional food group Deliciouslyorkshire. Her fig and balsamic chutney won Best Savoury Condiment in the annual awards.
Elaine has been running Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves as a small business from her home in York.
Inspired by her grandmother Bessie and her childhood spent living in the family farmhouse in Pateley Bridge, Elaine said the support and positive feedback she has received has been overwhelming.
“It all started when my mum handed me a basketful of apples and plums from the farm and said, ‘Why don’t you do something with these?’ so my first chutney flavours: apple and ginger and plum and apple, were born.
“Although it’s still early days and fulfilling orders can often take up entire days, I love making these jams and chutneys, and I have huge plans for Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves in the future,” she added.
Now her focus is on expanding her business as more people hear about her preserves.
“I get such kind feedback about my preserves – some people say they eat the biscuit with a bit of chutney and forget the cheese because they like it so much on its own. That’s a really nice compliment.
“When I was growing up in Pateley Bridge with my two sisters, our nan Bessie would always involve us in whatever she was busy with in the kitchen whether that be a pie, bread or jam.”
In fact, Bessie has given her name not only to her granddaughter’s preserves business but also a footpath in her hometown.
“There’s a path in Pateley Bridge, close to the farm, named Bessie’s Way, and it was dedicated to my nan because she used to love walking in the area.
“She was well-known in the town and even now when I go back to visit relatives in the area, it’s lovely to see that there is an enduring tribute to her.”
Elaine moved to York 13 years ago with husband Paul after working at hospitality and events venues in North and West Yorkshire. They have two children, Grace, 8, and Henry, 7.
Whereas before Elaine made the odd few pots for friends and family, she now spends around eight hours a day making and potting up to 80 jars of any one of her 15 sweet and savoury flavours.
She has built her business up through supplying food outlets and hospitality venues in the region and word of mouth, and she has also been dabbling in the wedding industry after someone requested a football team-themed colour scheme for their preserves wedding favours the year before last.
At the moment, Elaine oversees the entire process from sourcing ingredients, labelling the jars through to deliveries, and an active online presence means she can also respond to requests and take orders through her website and social media channels.
She says having her own business is a source of inspiration to her two children. “Grace likes to help me with labelling and Henry is always on hand when I need a chief taster. It’s wonderful that they are interested in what I am doing, and I like to teach them how to make the most of ingredients and share the tips my nan taught me.”
This summer, she will attend her first major event the Make and Bake Festival at Ripley Castle in June. “I love going out to meet people and letting them taste my jams and chutneys because I appreciate feedback. I always think it’s nice to put a face to a name and so allowing people to see me, as the person who makes all these things, is an important aspect of Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves.”
She also plans on entering the Great Taste awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, for the first time this year.
Image: Elaine Bickle of Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves in front of the old family home, Brigghouse Farm, in Pateley Bridge.
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Notes to editors
1. For more information about Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves, please visit www.bessiesyorkshirepreserves.com and keep up to date with the business’ development on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
2. Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves was born in 2013 when Elaine Bickle sold her first jars of chutney, made using fruit from the family farm, to a deli in her hometown of Pateley Bridge.
3. The name is taken from her late grandmother, Bessie Firth, who was a well-known figure in Pateley Bridge. ‘Bessie’s Way’ is a footpath in Pateley Bridge named in her memory after her passing. The Firths used to farm at Brigghouse Farm which had been in the family for three generations.
4. The entire Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves range now totals 15 jams and chutneys and you can view the list of stockists online.
5. Bessie’s Yorkshire Preserves’ fig and balsamic chutney won the Best Savoury Condiment award at the 2016 Taste Awards, hosted by The Yorkshire Post and Deliciouslyorkshire.
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