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Prepping quality Christmas puddings in March: why planning ahead takes the right supplier
Before Easter, Christmas 2023 is the last thing on most people’s minds. But if you’re a bulk baker, right now you’re planning, ordering and preparing ingredients for this year’s Christmas puddings. Bulk manufactured luxury Christmas puddings take seven to nine months to mature. Precise production methods and top-quality pure sugars, fruit and flour are important, but for the best possible pudding, reliable suppliers are the key ingredient.
What is a traditional quality Christmas pudding?
In the UK, nothing says Christmas like a Christmas pudding. Love it or hate it, it’s one of our oldest traditions, harking back to medieval times. Today, not many of us make our own, but with the rise in artisanal, high-end foods available on the market, and their enduring popularity at Christmas, we have an endless array of luxury puddings to choose from in the shops.
Interestingly, the first Christmas puddings as we know them today were a display of wealth: rare ingredients like fresh fruit, spices, alcohol and sugar were put together by the upper classes in post-Reformation England into an enviable dessert for Christmas day. While the average modern-day pudding gets taken out of the packet for Christmas lunch, the higher-end ones have more in common with its seventeenth century ancestor: prepared months in advance to allow the specific and distinctive set of ingredients to mature and mingle.
Some luxury pudding manufacturers use our golden syrup instead of – or as well as – a crystalline sugar, because its higher sugar content and decadent sticky texture is the perfect addition to this indulgent, once-a-year celebratory centrepiece. Mass market puddings, which aren’t matured and are cooked more quickly, are more likely to contain a lighter sugar – like light cane muscovado sugar – to complement the lighter flavours.
It’s the combination of a dark, intense sugar, a long, slow cook and the multiple months of maturation that give traditional high-quality puddings that rich, robust unmistakeably festive flavour.
Why sugar gives Christmas puddings more than sweetness
Although all the dried fruit in a Christmas pudding would keep it sweet without sugar, Christmas pudding without sugar wouldn’t be Christmas pudding at all.
That’s not only because the type of sugar you choose is foundational to the taste of your pudding, with darker, stickier sugars matching its intense, spicy flavours: It’s because sugar has powerful humectant and antibacterial properties that help to keep puddings moist and prevent spoilage over the long months of maturation.
Sugar prevents microbial growth by reducing the water activity through osmosis, or dehydration. Whether it’s a solid crystalline sugar like demerara or light or dark muscovado, or liquid like golden syrup, black treacle or molasses, sugar will always try to reach the same level of sugar present in the foodstuff it is in contact with: In the case of Christmas pudding, that’s the sugar-rich dried fruit. To do that, sugar cells displace the water cells in the fruit and deprive bacteria of the water they need to multiply.
Black treacle is a firm favourite ingredient in high-end Christmas puddings because its powerful smoky flavour marries perfectly with the aromatic pudding spices, and it lends its dramatic colour and sticky mouthfeel to the final product too, intensifying the traditional pudding’s signature dark brown hue. As we mentioned before, for lighter, quicker puddings, light cane muscovado gives a caramelly taste and a slightly airier texture that makes it popular with manufacturers.
High quality pudding manufacturers need reliable suppliers
For quality pudding makers, timing is everything. Finding the right sugar supplier is just as important as the sugar itself.
Right now, the food industry is facing the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, global weather events, wars, energy crises, problems with transport logistics and an economic slowdown. For customers, prices are rising, while manufacturers are also contending with raw materials prices increases alongside the unreliable and uncertain supply of ingredients.
Guaranteeing on time, on spec and in-full delivery is harder now than in recent years, but at Ragus, through planning for every contingency, managing risks and maintaining good relationships with our teams and our own suppliers, we minimise the risk of letting our customers down.
It’s not the first time that we’ve faced challenging times in the food and beverage industry. Throughout the second world war and the 1978-1979 ‘winter of discontent’ our strong links within the industry, our meticulous attention to detail and ability to flex to every circumstance has meant we’ve been able to give our customers what they need, while other suppliers have struggled.
Christmas pudding holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of people all over the UK. Customers who choose to invest in a high-quality pudding expect a perfectly put together and expertly matured product. Getting the right kind of sugar, from the right kind of supplier – who can give you 100 percent on time, in-full deliveries – means everyone can have a happy Christmas.
Ragus manufactures high-quality pure sugars for food and beverage applications to enhance taste, texture, appearance and shelf life. To learn more about our pure sugar products, contact our Customer Services Team. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, keep browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn.