Focus on: Pickles

Many vegetables can be pickled, but most people think “cucumber” when they hear the word “pickle.” The iconic pickle spears that accompany a sandwich or the slices that top a burger start out as cucumbers before they’re submerged in a pickling solution. And it’s the quality of those cucumbers that makes or breaks the pickle.

“It’s important to source cucumbers that are firm with no interior holes and consistent in width and length,” says Julie Bowman, director of marketing at Pinnacle Foods, parent company of Vlasic pickles. To make processed pickles—also known as cured or fermented—the cucumbers are washed, placed in salt brine and held in tanks for up to a year. The pickles are then desalted and packed. Quality pickles have a bright color, firm skin and texture, slightly curved shape and not too salty flavor. “It’s all about the crunch,” Bowman adds.

Some companies produce refrigerated and fresh pack pickles in addition to processed. For the refrigerated variety, cucumbers are placed directly into jars and covered with a brine solution of vinegar and seasonings, then stored under refrigeration, explains a spokesperson for Bay Valley Foods. Fresh pack pickles start off the same way, but the jars are vacuum-sealed and pasteurized. These types are not tanked.

The explosion of burgers on menus has been good for the pickle business—chips or slices on top and/or spears on the plate are expected. QSRs have traditionally been the major buyers of pickle slices, but with the premium-ization of burgers, Vlasic is in the midst of developing a “casual-dining pickle.” Chunks, gherkins (midget cukes) and whole pickles are other available formats. While burgers and sandwiches are the primary applications, pickles also show up in appetizers, salad bars, relish trays, wraps and deli platters.

The most popular pickle flavors are sweet, dill and sour, with variations within each. Kosher dills, for example, are enhanced with garlic and other spices for a more robust flavor, according to Bay Valley Foods. Bread and Butter pickles are sweetened
and flavored with a clove and cassia blend. Pickle brine may also be infused with hot peppers, honey, ginger, mustard seeds, celery seeds and/or other seasonings.

Most foodservice pickles are packed in pails, cans and jars, but plastic pouches are becoming more prevalent for their sustainability factor. Vlasic’s Flex Pouch packaging, for instance, reduces waste and shipping costs, making it more sustainable and economical. “You pay for the pickle, not the pail,” Bowman notes. The 5½-pound pouches, currently used for pickle chips and pickled jalapeños, are packed four or eight to a carton.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Foodservice operators and other employers in New York City are adjusting to a new law that enforces paid time off for staff who have been the victims of certain crimes.

Called paid safe leave, the benefit is believed to be among the first of its kind in the nation. A more limited version has been in effect in Minneapolis since last summer.

The New York law applies to employees who have been the victims of actual or threatened domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking or human trafficking.

Workers can also opt for safe paid leave if a member of their...

Industry News & Opinion

A Massachusetts bill to end lunch shaming has been stalled in the House, reports South Coast Today.

The House chair of the Education Committee voted on Tuesday for further study of the bill, which would prevent schools from throwing away hot lunches and/or serving an alternative meal to students behind on lunch payments. Under the bill, schools would also be unable to bar students with unpaid balances from participating in extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the bill asks schools to take action in reducing families’ meal debt by helping families apply for free or...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of California, Santa Cruz is converting its Cowell Coffee Shop into a “multi-service basic needs cafe” to aid students facing food insecurity .

The new cafe is being created through a partnership with dining services, the school’s center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and UCSC’s Cowell College. Due to open at the start of the fall semester, the lower part of the cafe will continue to be a study space for students (with free coffee and tea) and will also host nutrition and financial wellness programming.

Upstairs, the kitchen will be used as a...

Managing Your Business
quitting job

What prompts foodservice managers to clean out their offices and head out with a last paycheck? A new survey suggests the triggers may be changing with the times.

The canvass of 2,000 restaurant professionals, conducted by placement firm Gecko Hospitality, shows lifestyle issues abounding among the top 10 reasons for parting with a restaurant employer last year.

Here are the gender-specific lists:

Top 10 reasons female managers leave

1. Better opportunity

2. Unemployed

3. Relocation

4. Not satisfied

5. No growth

6. Long...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code