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Sid's sauces: Bell Block man Paul Garvin with his selection of sauces and condiments.
ROBERT CHARLES
Sid's sauces: Bell Block man Paul Garvin with his selection of sauces and condiments.

A few years ago Paul Garvin used to pickle a lot of onions to eat with his home-brewed beer.

One day he discovered he had a large quantity of vinegar left over from his pickling activities - so he decided to make some sauce, which he named Sids Sauce because Sidney is his unused first name.

His first attempt was a mild worcester sauce, and that proved very popular with friends. Then he starting making a hot version, and that proved popular, too. So did a plum sauce, followed by a low-sugar version he also invented that is more suitable for use by diabetics.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Sids Sauce now enjoys a reputation that extends to Kaiwaka in the north and Invercargill in the south, which means the Bell Block man spends a lot of his spare time boiling things up in a 100-litre cauldron at rented facilities in central New Plymouth.

These days the production operation extends to nine different sauces, plus one barbecue rub.

And the most popular? "By far my smokey garlic sauce - that's really popular," says Mr Garvin. "And my latest invention, a feijoa and chilli sauce, is proving very popular, too. Next year, when the feijoas become available again, I'll be going hard-out making that sauce to meet demand."

The secret to the success of Sids Sauce is Mr Garvin uses exclusively natural ingredients. There are no artificial colours or flavourings, and if he wants his sauce to thicken he boils it down for a little longer rather than using fillers.

As a result the sauces are a little more expensive, but that does not worry him.

"It's very important to me that my sauces have integrity. Most of my raw ingredients come from Taranaki, too - and in fact the only things that are not sourced from New Zealand are the shakers for the barbecue rub and the caps for the bottles."

Because the sauces have natural ingredients, they do not need to be refrigerated and have an unlimited shelf life.

Mr Garvin says Taranaki remains his best market, but the sauces also sell well in Wellington and Auckland, which explains why he is often at his saucy work station, boiling and bottling his special product.

And does this all leave him with sufficient time to pickle onions? "I don't do that any more. Some time ago I gave up smoking, and I figured I might as well stop drinking as well. That meant there was no need for pickled onions any more. Good Heavens - my life sounds totally celibate in that regard, doesn't it?"

Taranaki Daily News