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Pudding production no easy task

Wednesday, 10th October, 2012

Sanchia Treloar mixes the fruit on the first day of pudding production yesterday. Sanchia Treloar mixes the fruit on the first day of pudding production yesterday.

By Kurtis J Eichler

Whipping up close to 1800 RFDS Christmas Puddings is no piece of cake.

And if you thought it was, you'd be taken to task by the army of cooks entrusted with bringing kilos of ingredients together this week to make the festive delicacies.

Inside the steamy Zinc Mine Hall, the bevy of 26 ladies don their hair nets and tie up their aprons ready for the gruelling pressure test ahead of them.

They'll use 260kg of flour, 240 kgs of currants/sultanas, 240 kgs raw sugar, 120 kgs citrus peel, 120 kgs cooking margarine/butter, 90 kgs
breadcrumbs, 70 kgs almonds and 360 dozen eggs, which is all soaked in 60 litres of brandy.

Yarramba Station's Sanchia Treloar is at the helm of the fruit mixing gig, which involves bringing together citrus peel, currants, almonds, raisins and a nip of brandy.

Ms Treloar said she felt a bit under pressure, given the importance of the weight the fruit played.

"The fruit is the only thing that needs to be weighed individually.

"And I do like to get it right."

The fruit is mixed with herbs and spices and sent over to the twirling mixers to be combined with flour and eggs.

Once it's combined, the pudding is weighed by veteran scales monitor, Val Anderson. It must be 1kg - no more, no less.

It's then wrapped in calico cloth, the is cloth pleated and the tags hooked on.

Then 17 puddings at a time are wheeled in a cart to the muggy copper room where they are left to boil for three hours in one of 17 pots.

The sugary desserts are then hung in a dark room to dry.

At the end of business yesterday, 303 rich, delectable puddings had been put together.

Head chef, Margaret Symes, who starts work at 7am, said the task was a monotonous but rewarding one.

Slaving away over hot coppers had its downfalls, but it was the people you met that was the real reward, she said.

"Being around the people and hearing the stories they tell and friendships you make," said Mrs Symes, also the president of the RFDS Women's
Auxiliary.

Pudding production has grown greatly since its early days in the 1950s when a group of bush women crafted the recipe.

The very first cookup was in 1956 at the home of an Auxiliary member where they made 75 puddings.

Outgrowing the domestic kitchen, the women took over the pathology room at the hospital for a short time before heading to the North Mine ambulance rooms.

In 1987 they took production to the Central Power Station and after 21 years moved to their current site at the Zinc Mine Hall.

Mrs Symes said the secret to the success of the pudding legacy had always been its traditional mouthwatering taste.

"I think people think of the old puddings their grandma used to make and they're happy to help the RFDS because that's where the money is going."

Last year the Auxiliary raised more than $20,000 for the aero-medical health service and are tipped to surpass that figure this year.

Pudding orders can be made by calling (08) 8087 7750. Those who have purchased them are asked to collect them from Perilya's Eyre Street building.

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