“We still have someone in the church whose mother was one of the original pudding makers,” Perrin says. Every October, a handful of ladies gather to mix the dry ingredients, the spices, the bread, sugar and so on, preparing it for a much larger mixing party that takes place on a Sunday morning at the church.
Old measuring implements, including an old spice jar that metes out exactly three tablespoons, are still used in the preparation, and the tradition of tools and procedures seems as important as the pudding itself. Specifics of the recipe remain a secret, Perrin says.
Known in England as Christmas pudding, plum pudding, in fact, contains no plums at all. Instead, it gets its strong flavor from raisins and comes from the can as a rich, gelatinlike substance. In medieval times, it was a staple of the English diet, probably made with prunes, but these days it’s been relegated to a novelty, a conversation piece of holiday fare.
Tell that to the parishioners. When all is said and done, about 150 of them will have taken part in the mixing and canning and delivery. These days, health regulations demand that the actual canning and sealing be overseen by a bona-fide cannery, after which the pudding is shipped back to the church where yet another crew applies the labels. This year’s bounty was 840 cans — a bit light, based on the annual average, but the number accommodates for a surplus from last year, when a staff member ordered too many ingredients.
These days, proceeds go to a good cause, benefiting the Grace & Holy Trinity Child Care Center, at 1618 Floyd Ave., which was established to promote educational and social development among local children. Cans are $9 and can be purchased at the church office, or at Ukrop’s Super Markets.
What a storybook ring the words “plum pudding” have. One has to wonder why we don’t eat more of the stuff. “It’s one of those things,” Perrin says. “It’s very rich. You either like it or you don’t. There’s really no one in between.” But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make its way each year to the table. For goodness sake, it’s never stopped anyone from shipping a fruitcake. S
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