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WHAT’S A TRACKLEMENT? FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

Red Pepper and Chilli JellyUntil quite recently I had never heard of the word. Then one night when I stopped for a “lunch” break, at three in the morning, I discovered a jar of ‘Red Pepper and Chilli Jelly' in one of the hotel fridges - that was the end of boring sandwiches. Cheese, ham, cold chicken became tastes to savour with the addition of this Tracklement.

I was addicted!

So that I could enjoy this wonderful food product at home, as well as at work, I thought I would see if it was available outside the world of commercial catering. Not only did I find that it was but there is also a wide range of similar products to be enjoyed and savoured.

Who makes it? Who else but The Tracklement Company Ltd and what a fascinating story . . . . .

In the words of William Tullberg, the founder . . .

In 1970, when I started to make the first wholegrain English mustard, the only readily available mustards were Colman’s yellow or brown, ready made in little pots. Professionally, I had to taste a great many sausages and pies, the products of 26 factories and all excellent, and my palate needed something better to accompany them.

I had previously come across French “Moutarde à l’Ancienne” and, reading John Evelyn’s Diaries one day, I came across a mention of what was obviously the English equivalent. So I thought I would try to make some for myself. The resultant trial in a coffee grinder was encouraging, but it took time before a friend found an old industrial coffee mill that we could adapt to grind mustard seed correctly. I then started to make the occasional small batch of Urchfont Mustard, which we served at Saturday morning sausage and mash parties.

The relish with which this tracklement was greeted by friends and neighbours was most gratifying and when one of them asked for a jar next time I was making some, I thought it would be amusing to write a label for it. No problem for me - I had designed plenty in my time and knew just what the legal requirements were. With the aid of my pen and the office copier, I put together what you might call a professionally amateur label and some days later, gave my friend the first jar of Urchfont Mustard.

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On his way home, he called in at the local pub, where he showed the landlord his new acquisition, and on my next visit I was asked to make “a couple of dozen jars” for the pub. It was at that point that it crossed my mind that maybe I was on to something here. Another room was rented in a bakery in Church Street, Calne, a nearby market town, where my wife and I were already holding what we called, “Maslen’s Subscription Dinners”. I photocopied the necessary number of labels, obtained supplies of mustard seed and spices from a merchant in Bristol and got to work. The problem of jars and lids was solved by a nearby jam manufacturer, who generously gave me the necessary jam jars and lids to fulfil this magnificent first order! By the following Sunday, it was delivered. One can be forgiven for saying, “The rest is history”!

The rest really is a mixture of happenstance, stubbornness and good luck. I had a disagreement with my employer, who sent me off with a year’s salary, and this allowed us to set up Maslen’s Restaurant. The restaurant was a reasonable success and got into the Good Food Guide and meanwhile, with help from friends, the mustard business slowly took off. I remembered my Lincolnshire grandmother using the word “tracklements” for meat accompaniments and we named the company “Wiltshire Tracklements”.

Mustard sales forged ahead. We started to make headway in kitchen shops, producing some splendid pottery jars which made a big impression. The business grew so fast that my jam manufacturer friend suggested they should help with production and we formed a new company, Wiltshire Foods Abroad.

The idea was to introduce a new range of high quality jams under the “Easterton Village” label, to be marketed alongside the Tracklements range, by now increased to four mustards and four herb jellies. Specialist production and packaging would remain at Church Street.

Although this arrangement produced some very good results, particularly in Australia, Singapore and America, the jam manufacturer got into financial difficulties and ultimately went into receivership. We were able to buy back the stocks of product and labels from the receiver and, in spite of considerable disruption, carried on production from Church Street as The Calne Mustard Company Ltd., without interruption to our customers supplies.

Continued expansion meant that we needed new premises and after a great deal of searching throughout Wiltshire, we found a freehold bakery in Sherston, near Malmesbury. It had the great advantages that it had potential to become home, factory and office and also that it was already licensed for food manufacture. We first saw it in 1983, went through all the usual problems of buying and adapting the buildings for our purposes, and finally moved in 1985. The packaging was redesigned, the product range increased, we took over our own distribution and by 1993 we had outgrown our premises again.

So we moved down the road to purpose built premises on the site of a disused dairy farm: first one unit; then a few years later, half the next-door unit; then later again, a third unit, and in 2001 we expanded again into the other half of the next-door building. But, however large we become, you may be assured that we have no intention of ever lowering the quality of our products. They will still be hand-made in small batches, using the best quality raw materials we can find - without any flavourings, colourings, thickeners or artificial preservatives (except where we use fresh cream in the recipe).

The Company

Simple flavours, clean, clear, classic tastes.

We are proud of our products and our hand-made manufacturing process. We don’t cut corners: we grind our own mustard from whole seed and spices; we use only wine and cider vinegars; we use fresh garlic, chilli and pimentos, and our wild horseradish root is gathered by gypsies on the banks of the Humber. All this accounts for the clean, clear, classic tastes. The flavours are simple and direct, allowing many uses, from accompaniments to food on the plate to dips and marinades and in cooking.

We are a “people” Company. People make the mustards and know when they are ready by experience and feel. People make the sauces and chutneys and through their enthusiasm and product knowledge get them just right. (Using fresh ingredients means that we need to allow for variations - for example, fruit and vegetables may carry more or less liquid and the chutneys may have to be simmered a little bit longer to get that “just right” texture.) People provide the efficient, yet flexible and friendly service that is so appreciated by our customers.

Our loyal customers are people who know about good food and care about good food. They share our knowledge and enthusiasm for great tastes, simple tastes, simply made. To them our thanks. And to those who haven’t met Tracklements before, a warm welcome and a promise of the kind of quality that will make you yet another enthusiast.”

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com