What pickles does McDonalds use

Green, crisp and healthy: this is how the pickling cucumber grows in Lower Bavaria's fields under ideal conditions and was harvested between June and mid-September. There was really something going on in the fields - because of "sour cucumber time".

The cucumber is a nightshade plant and likes it warm and calm. For this reason, the seedling is covered with fleece after cultivation in April. Drip irrigation compensates for the lack of moisture in the soil. If the conditions are good, the first flowers will appear after a month and a month and a half after sowing, the cucumber harvest can begin. A fully grown cucumber plant continuously produces fruits so that they can be picked again after four days.

But cucumbers are also true divas and are very delicate. This is one of the reasons why there has been no machine harvesting process so far and many hardworking hands are necessary. The seasonal workers, many of whom come to Germany especially for the cucumber season, lie on so-called cucumber fliers for the harvest. These are tractors with side-mounted booms that are remotely reminiscent of the wings of an airplane. The cucumber fliers drive across the field at a snail's pace so that as few fruits as possible remain on the field. The harvest workers pick the fruit from the tendril with a slight twisting motion and place them on the conveyor belt.

A strenuous and sweaty activity, but both the fruits and the plants themselves remain undamaged with this process. In this way, the cucumber plants stay vital for a long time and fruits can be picked up to 20 times in one season.

The flowers of the cucumber plant are bright yellow. They sit on the shoots and arise on the leaf axils. Several fruits grow on each shoot at the same time. All cucumbers from approx. 1.5 cm in diameter are harvested. The cucumber plant has fine spines on all parts of the plant.

After the harvest, the cucumbers are sorted into different sizes as quickly as possible, assessed, weighed and then processed at Develey Senf & Feinkost GmbH. Large cucumbers are mainly preserved by means of natural lactic acid fermentation and, for example, processed into sliced ​​cucumbers as a spicy topping for hamburgers and the like. The smaller cucumbers are placed in the jar as pickled cucumbers - this is what the Specht brand belonging to Develey is famous for - and are either a snack or a fine and crunchy culinary experience with a snack.

Quality and complete traceability are a matter of course in domestic cultivation. And that doesn't work without outside help: despite the hard manual work, the harvest workers come to Lower Bavaria year after year during the cucumber season. The many hardworking hands that are required for the harvest make the cucumber harvest expensive, but thanks to the collaboration between Develey and McDonald’s, the largest contiguous cucumber growing area in Europe can be preserved.

Perfect gherkin climate in Lower Bavaria

A contract farmer of Develey Senf & Feinkost GmbH is Karl Birkeneder, who runs a family farm in Vilstal / Lower Bavaria together with his parents. With over 20 years of experience, cucumber cultivation is an important pillar of the business. Every year, with up to 150 harvest workers, they harvest the best pickling cucumbers on approx. 30 hectares. The family business also produces onions, sugar beets, grain and soy. "We produce our cucumbers in the best region of Europe with the highest standards in European comparison and can guarantee traceability back to the field," says Birkeneder. “The pickling cucumber suits the climate in our region: It's a bit warmer here than in neighboring areas, but not too hot either. With water-saving drip irrigation, sophisticated nutrient management, short transport routes and ultimately high yields, we save resources and can therefore produce more sustainably than in other growing regions. "

With around 1,000 hectares of cultivation area, Lower Bavaria is the largest contiguous cucumber growing area in Europe. The original form of the cucumber is probably native to warm tropical India. Lower Bavaria is far away, not only in terms of climate. Nevertheless, the Lower Bavarian cultivation is one of the most profitable in the world, as it is here that the climatic conditions are good and that there are skilled farmers with a lot of expertise. The climatic conditions, competence and experience allow high quality goods to be produced for the consumer. The Birkeneder family and their seasonal workers are sure to do their utmost to achieve this.

Karl Birkeneder junior and senior examine their cucumber stocks. The plants are healthy and bear a lot of fruit. The family business run jointly by the two farmers has been successfully producing cucumbers for over 20 years.