BALLINGARRY’S Theresa Storey has scored a hat trick, winning three gold star awards for three of her products in the Great Taste Awards 2012.
It was a mighty achievement for her small, home-based company, Green Apron which produces a range of jams, marmalades and chutneys and on what was her first time entering the competition.
And this week, Theresa admitted, the significance of it all was just sinking in.
The Great Taste Awards is an annual competition run by the Guild of Fine Foods and is regarded as the benchmark for fine foods. This year some 8807 products from 1823 companies entered the competition and were blind-tasted by 350 judges. A second and third judging then followed before the gold stars were awarded.
Two of Theresa’s products won single gold stars: an apricot, almond and orange conserve and a ginger marmalade. But her garlic and chilli mustard won a double gold, declaring it a product that has set new standards of excellence.
“I am so pleased,” mother-of-three Theresa said. “Our products are now ranked next to any producer in Europe even though we are home-based. It shows the kids you can be as good as anybody else.”
Theresa inherited her talent for home-produce from her parents who were keen advocates of the John Seymour school of self-sufficiency. The family sold their excess fruit and vegetables at the Limerick Market in the 1970s and then, Theresa’s mother Barbara began selling her home-baked scones, breads and cakes.
“I took over in 1996,” Theresa explains, “and added a lot more products.”
Her products, she goes on, were created by her but with taste suggestions from all the family. “Even now, when I make up batches, there is a lot of tasting and adjusting. Every batch has to be tasted.”
The family also helps in the preparation of products for sale – labelling jars, tying on ribbons, and even helping out at their stall at the weekly Limerick Milk Market. Theresa has now also begun to supply some local shops.
But while she plans to enter other products in the Great Taste Awards in the coming years, she is adamant she will not be changing her production methods and will be sticking to creating small, home-made batches, adjusting for taste. She is convinced that a more commercialised approach would take from the genuine, home-made quality of her products.
Since she took over Green Apron, Theresa has also developed a number of other, complementary, activities. She conducts organic gardening courses as well as foraging workshops.
She also holds preserving workshops and you can read her blog and find out about autumn courses on www.thegreenapron.ie.