Chudleigh’s apple farm is well known as a destination for family outings. But if you like apple pie, get to know Chudleigh’s 125,000 square foot commercial bakery which is now under COR supervision.
By Chava Fine
When you think of Chudleigh’s, you may picture fun times with your family picking an array of crisp, juicy apples at their 100-acre apple farm in Milton, Ontario. But now you can also associate Chudleigh’s with “kosher”, as their entire 125,000 square foot commercial bakery is under COR supervision.
Chudleighs’ frozen baked goods and snacks, which include signature favourites such as Apple Blossoms, Pineapple Upside Down Cakes and Chocolate Lava Cakes, use only natural ingredients and no preservatives.
“We use traditional home-style recipes,” said Brent Winterton, Vice President of Quality Assurance and Human Resources at Chudleigh’s. “We have a strong affinity towards making feel-good comfort food.”
While most commercial bakeries employ an automated manufacturing system for the entire baking process, Chudleigh’s is unique in utilizing a process that they call “handamation”.
“Our focus is to keep that hand-made traditional home-style feel to our products,” said Winterton. “There’s a significant portion of our products that are hand-made in small batches with attention to detail. We use automation for certain parts of the process, combined with the craftsmanship of traditional pastry making.”
Chudleigh’s products are sold at major grocery retailers and food service outlets across North America and around the world, including South America, Europe and Australia.
The family-owned business has evolved substantially since opening in 1957 as an orchard farm. In 1973, Chudleigh’s opened up the baking side of their business, as they started to make apple pies in the basement of their barn. However, this arrangement only worked for a short time before they had to move their operation into a commercial facility.
“Our commercial bakery started in 1991 after a series of events – the barn fire being the most notable,” said Winterton.
The site of their award-winning bakery is conveniently located just down the street from the farm orchard, so all baked goods containing apples use freshly picked apples from their farm.
As the company has been undergoing a number of exciting changes in recent years, becoming kosher certified was the next logical step in the company’s evolution.
“Our company has matured in its processes and abilities, so it seemed like a good time for us to become kosher-certified,” said Winterton. “It’s very exciting and it’s been a great learning experience.”
Transforming the Chudleigh’s facility into a kosher plant required that all of their ingredients be kosher-certified and that all of their equipment be kashered.
“Our plant is a fairly complicated one as we have multiple lines, multiple products and multiple customers,” stated Winterton. “When we sat down and did an analysis of our ingredients, we found out, to our surprise, that 99% of the ingredients we use were already kosher. There were only one or two ingredients which weren’t kosher, and we found alternatives for those.”
Kashering the plant itself was the major task. It took two-and-a-half days for COR Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi J. Norman and COR Rabbinic Field Representative Rabbi David Lawrence to kasher the entire Chudleigh’s facility, including their test kitchen.
“The biggest challenge of switching over the facility was the sheer volume of items that needed to be kashered,” said Rabbi Norman. “We kashered close to 8500 trays, 175 racks and 18 ovens.”
Winterton described the process of kashering their facility as “pretty seamless”.
Now that Chudleigh’s is under COR supervision, they are excited about the future opportunities that are in store for them.
“As far as opportunities for us as a result of becoming kosher, we have yet to realize them,” said Winterton. “But about 80% of our business is in the US, and becoming kosher should open up some new opportunities there for us.”
Kosher consumers across Canada and beyond are certainly eager to taste the delectable high-quality kosher products offered by Chudleigh’s.
PLEASE NOTE: Only Chudleigh’s products in their original sealed packaging with the accompanying COR symbol are certified kosher; Items baked at the farm are not kosher certified.