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Video: When he couldn’t find chilli jelly Allan made his own and an award-winning business was born by accident

Cooking in his kitchen one day eight years ago, Allan Ferguson needed chilli jelly as part of a recipe. Not knowing where to lay his hands on some, he just made his own, and it spawned his thriving company, Allan’s Chilli Products.

A home kitchen in Abernethy probably wouldn’t be where you would expect to find the birthplace of a Perthshire company selling chilli sauces, relishes, chilli jellies and jams, but that was where it all began for Allan Ferguson.

A recipe he was using called for an ingredient he didn’t have so the 62-year-old took matters into his own hands.

From that day in 2013, Allan’s Chilli Products was born.

Chilli Jelly

Allan said: “I just started from a jar of chilli jelly and one thing went to another. It definitely wasn’t planned, that’s for sure.

“I was doing a bit of cooking in the kitchen one day and on the recipe there was chilli jelly. I said to the wife where do you get chilli jelly from and she said she had no idea. I thought ‘ok I’ll just make some’.

“After that, I went into the wee store in Abernethy with half a dozen jars and I have a friend who works as a printer and he did some labels. I gave two or three jars to my friend and a few weeks later she said I have been speaking to the guy up the road who was happy to sell it.

“I hadn’t planned on selling it. It was only for tasting. One thing led to another and we are now supplying farm shops, deli shops, House of Bruar, selling down south, butchers, just whoever wants to sell it.”

Allan and his wife, Joan, at Bowhouse in a screenshot from Farmers Country Showdown.

And a recent television appearance gave Allan’s Chilli Products an unexpected boost.

“We do the farmers’ markets and we attend the Bowhouse Market down in Elie once a month, and there was a camera crew there.

“It’s just the luck of the draw if you get picked to feature. Later I was watching the telly and, bang, up it comes on Farmers Country Showdown.

“In the first hour after the programme had finished, we had 35 orders and we have had a lot of regular orders after that.”

Allan’s oatcakes on Farmers Country Showdown.

From a small start making a few products, Allan is continually adding to his offering of sauces, jellies and chutneys now being made with chillies grown locally.

He revealed: “We do 14 jellies, 14 sauces, six chutneys and we do chilli oatcakes as well and chilli marmalade, quite a variety.

“We used to buy the chillies in, but last year was the first year we had used our own. A guy is growing them for me up in Coupar Angus and he has sent me some pictures to show me them already starting growing for this year.

Allan’s product range.

“We use the habaneros, that’s the only chilli we use. We do a smoky one, so we smoke the chillies before we make that too. All that’s really in our products are chillies, pears and apples, all natural ingredients.

“We pick the apples and pears when they are in season and we juice them and then freeze the juice so we have products all year.”


As Allan is still working full-time, he has called on the help of other family members to take on the work creating his products for his business which is always looking to the future.

“My wife, Joan, and the mother-in-law, Betty, take care of things as I still have a full-time job in the construction industry. I do the farmers’ markets and the other markets,” he said.

“We have got 14 awards just now and I have just sent a couple away for the British Food tasting awards, so hopefully we will get some awards this year.

“We just pick away at it and try to bring a couple of new flavours out every year and see how it goes and things expand. We are very proud of what we have achieved in a short time.”

Fresh not hotter

However, he won’t be caving into requests to make a really hot sauce or chilli jelly – preferring to keep them fresh and tasty.

Allan with some his sauces, jellies and chutneys.

“We have one we call a devil hot, it’s not bursting, bursting hot. That is the hottest one we do, and it will be the hottest one we do because it’s not a challenge as we want to keep the best taste,” Allan continued.

“People say: ‘Do a hotter one’, but I always say that’s as far as we’re going.”

And what does Allan like to do with his products?

“I like the pear dressing over my salad as it gives it a different taste – it takes you away from the salad cream!”

Read more on chillies …