NOW AVAILABLE FOR DELIVERY THROUGHOUT THE UK
NOW AVAILABLE FOR DELIVERY THROUGHOUT THE UK
I’ve been in love with pickled onions since I was a child — I hid massive jars under my bed and ate them before I went to sleep. At family gatherings I’d fill my plate with them and sit in a corner eating, then convince others to pile extra on their plate, all for me. I was constantly looking out for the perfect pickled onion.
When I lived in Japan, I couldn't find anything like an English pickled onion, so I decided to make my own, and hosted pickled onion tasting parties where serious pickled onion fans could indulge their obsession — huge jars would be emptied in one night.
When I returned to the UK after fifteen years in Japan, I shared my little creations with friends and neighbours, who convinced me that they had to be sold. I took a basket of pickled onions into Jesse Smith Butchers in Black Jack Street in Cirencester, and I will never forget the look on the faces of the lovely chaps behind the counter, when they tasted them. They immediately placed an order, and I was in business! That was 2013.
I now sell around 25,000 jars per year. I produce more than forty different lines — not just pickles, but also chutneys and jams. I am a regular at Cirencester Markets, and I supply around ninety different independent shops, mainly in The Cotswolds, but some as far north as Cumbria, and as far south as Devon. And Jesse Smith's has since opened a large farm shop on Love Lane, and stocks every single line I make.
Auntie Caroline on her stall at Cirencester Market.
Everything is still homemade, in my actual kitchen in my actual house, in Cirencester. I come up with all my own recipes, which I create with a minimal amount of sugar. I never use pickling vinegar but make my own vinegar blends, many of which are gluten free. I work with local suppliers as much as possible, such as Bramleys Wholesale or Woody's vegetable stall in Cirencester Market. I like collaborating with other local businesses: I make an ale chutney using ale made by Corinium Ales, and I use Old Stag Cider products in lots of the chutneys and jams. My eggs come from a local family farm — free range, of course. Even the fabric I use for making the little fabric tops for the chutneys comes from a local sewing shop, nextdoor to which is the clothing company that provides our customized uniforms. I get my van signwritten by a local firm, and maintained by an independent garage. Even the waste is removed by a local company. Auntie Caroline's truly is a business made in — and from — Cirencester.
My products are made in a kitchen that is full of love and laughter. My boyfriend Matthew officially joined the business in October 2021 (he's as pickle-obsessed as me, and was my customer for two years before he became my boyfriend). And I gave his nephew his first job, when he was just fourteen years old — Jack is now nineteen and joined the business when he left school in 2021. Friends and family coming to stay for a few days always end up peeling onions or eggs, or putting labels on jars.
Auntie Caroline (left) with her eldest niece, Megan (middle), and pickling assistant, Jack (right).
The onions and I have been featured in the Wilts and Glos Standard a number of times, and we were even invited to participate in BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet when they visited Cirencester Agricultural College in 2017. Michael Vaughan tasted them as part of the Yorkshire Tea’s Great Cricket Tea Challenge — go to YouTube to see his reaction! The Swindon Advertiser interviewed me in the kitchen in April 2018 (see image), and a few months later, food critic Danielle from Severn Bites wrote a wonderful article ending with a recipe idea for how to use one of my products. I've been on Anna King's Brunch Show on BBC Radio Gloucestershire a couple of times: once in the early days with the Pickled Onions, and in 2019 to talk about the Banging Brussels!
Swindon Advertiser, April 24th, 2018
I've led an adventurous life, have a wide range of interests, and have always been deeply moved by philanthropic endeavours especially when they involve giving a voice for those who may not have one. Since 2011 I have been deeply involved with a remote community in Japan that was destroyed by the tsunami. I've raised £175,000 for them and managed more than thirty different projects over the years, helping them to rebuild their lives. I wrote my first memoir, "One Month in Tohoku: an Englishwoman's memoir on life after the Japanese tsunami," to mark the tenth anniversary of the disaster, and was thrilled when it won an award.
I have written six other books, mostly related to Japan, and am always being asked to write a recipe book. Maybe one day! As of March 2021, I have been dealing with an ongoing adverse reaction to a vaccination, and I have found myself very active within a community of people who have similarly suffered — many of the recipes that I post on my personal social media are especially focused on maximising the body's ability to heal itself from chronic illness.
I'm also a regular public speaker (in-person or via Zoom) on pickling, Japan, the disaster, my books, and more recently on health-related topics. I often find myself speaking about what we can do to create a more compassionate world, and very much welcome like-minded people to reach out and connect.
Caroline Pover reading from "One Month in Tohoku" at her book launch in Cirencester, Sept. 2020.