Pictured - Andrea O’Neill in her Ulverstone lounge room with some of her puddings, and fruit boiling in large pots.
Pictured - Andrea O’Neill in her Ulverstone lounge room with some of her puddings, and fruit boiling in large pots.

For almost three decades, Andrea O’Neill has been using the famous family Christmas pudding recipe to raise a truckload of money for local charities.

This year, Loaves and Fishes Tasmania will receive the proceeds from the “priceless” plum puddings to feed Tasmanians doing it tough at Christmas.

The recipe has been handed down to daughters from Andrea’s great grandmother as a means of feeding family and friends, and raising money for charity. Andrea’s grandmother used to make puddings for the Ulverstone Uniting Church fair.

What started as a dozen or so puddings has grown into “a monster” labor of love, says Andrea, who has made a record 360 one kilogram puddings this year, as well as 70 dairy and gluten-free 600 gram puddings.

Andrea has also passed on her recipe to the Loaves and Fishes kitchen crew who are producing an extra 600 to sell, together with a number 100g mini puds to be included in free Christmas hampers being distributed statewide.

Keeping with the family tradition, Andrea doesn’t put a price on her puddings, asking for donations in exchange for the one kilogram Christmas treats.

Some of the puddings have fetched $100 each and made their way to friends in America and England and various spots on the mainland and throughout Tasmania, although Andrea reckons $20 is a fair price for the puddings.

Past beneficiaries have included Hope at St Paul’s Kitchen and Gran’s Van.

Andrea has worked as a commercial caterer and owns Elders Real Estate in Ulverstone with her partner, David Cousins, Elders Ulverstone funds the pudding run.

For a couple of weeks each November, their Ulverstone’s home becomes pudding central. She can cook up to 23 every four hours with the help of family and friends and giant gas-heated copper and enamel pots.

The secret to a perfect pudding, according to Andrea, is being generous with the fruit, alcohol and butter.

“The cheaper puddings won’t have anywhere near as much fruit and may use extract instead of real sherry, brandy or port,” Andrea said.

“We use premium butter, eggs from our own chooks, and lots of fruit from Countrywide in Devonport.”

Puddings are wrapped in calico & oven bags for boiling and drying, before being wrapped in ornate Christmas tea towels.

Andrea said she was delighted to be donating proceeds from this year’s puddings to Loaves and Fishes.

“It’s a great organisation doing amazing work for those in need,” she said.

“I’m planning on retiring next year and having the time to volunteer in the Loaves and Fishes kitchen,” as well as continue making her priceless puddings.

Christmas Puddings are available now to purchase from our online shop! Pick-up locations - Devonport Warehouse (136-140 Don Road) and Hobart Warehouse (12 Mill Lane, Glenorchy).