How does salad actually grow and how does it get into the supermarket? A green search for traces with the Bonduelle Academy
I ch kneeling in the dirt, wearing rubber boots and have a knife in his hand. A strong breeze blows my hair like a mop around my head. That does not really make things easier. "Well, and now cut off with a slanted cut from the bottom up." Christoph van Holtum knows how to do it and is currently trying to teach me how to prepare the correct salad slices. I start. I see nothing. I cut. I have a head of lettuce in my hand and look like Cousin Itt.
"Well," Christoph's Rhenish accent leaves no doubt that I did not perform quite well. "Now we have quite a few surrounding sheets there. We really only wanted the dense head. The large, loose lettuce leaves remain in the field and are plowed back as a natural green manure. "I am adequately contrite. But I can try it again. And this time I have an almost perfectly cut iceberg lettuce in my hand. I'm sitting on the low row between ambient lettuce leaves in the field and I'm pretty proud of my new harvesting skills.
With the Bonduelle Academy, I'm on the lookout for green" on location. "Where does the salad actually grow, how is it harvested, processed and how does it end up? He then came to the supermarket or to restaurants and food companies, and I traveled to the Lower Rhine near the Dutch border in this green, very rural region where the salads grow in the open air within a maximum of seven kilometers around the Bonduelle production site So the salads for mixtures in bags from the beginning of April to the end of October basically come from the local farmers on the Lower Rhine, after that it is too cold for free-range salads in Germany and Bonduelle uses salads from southern European contract farmers for the winter season.
The small plantlets for my newly harvested iceberg lettuce, for example, are initially protected for only two weeks before they are planted on the open field There you stay for at least another six weeks until the lettuce heads are big enough and ready for harvest. In particularly hot summer periods, the salad is also watered - but that is the only thing that happens. Christoph van Holtum checks the weight of the grown lettuce heads with a handy salad scale for the handbag. Without ambient leaves brings such a head at least about 600 grams on the scales. It will be harvestable next week.
After harvesting by hand, the lettuce will be brought to Bonduelle within a maximum of three hours. We will see that later, even close up.Here at Bauer "Jocki" Raedt, for example, five different sorts of lettuce are sown together as single seeds on the five-hectare field. Ten kilograms of seeds are enough to cover one hectare of acres and ultimately yield around eight to nine tonnes of lettuce. It takes another five to six weeks to grow a single-crop seedling from the tiny seed. In order for the salad to be freshly harvested on a daily basis and to be supplied continuously, various beds - also known as phrases - are planted and harvested in the same field.
Farmer Raedt I am very happy about our visit. So often that does not happen that someone is actively interested in his salad. Most people just like to walk in the countryside along the lettuce fields.
But we do not have time for a leisurely stroll through the already autumnal landscape, because it takes only a short drive back to the Bonduelle production site where we once run the entire production chain from the delivery of goods For security reasons, we are not allowed to take photos, but maybe that would have been a bit difficult among the extra garments we need to wear: thermal jackets, over jackets, safety shoes, hairnets, helmets, gloves and earmuffs Slipping over and turning us into a batty-decorative mix of Smurfs Minions.
But the whole thing has its meaning: on the one hand, it's about maximum hygiene for the food, and on the other, the greatest possible safety for workers and visitors. After all, it is an industrial plant with many large machines, conveyor belts and washing containers. In addition, the whole salad processing is constantly chilling four degrees Celsius. And surprisingly quickly, it gets surprisingly cold in the water.
At four degrees, lettuce stays there the best - it stays fresh and the nutrients are optimally preserved. Every hour at normal room temperature, the quality and nutrient content of the harvested green plantlets decreases significantly. Therefore, the salad is washed, cut and packed several times in a continuous cold chain from the time of delivery in less than 30 minutes. A good 3.5 hours after harvest, the salad is ready to load and sets off the next morning in refrigerated trucks on the way to the supermarkets. We'll get rid of our smurfs and set off.The count's family can be traced back to the 16th century and today still inhabits parts of the plant itself. But of course you have also arrived here in modern times: The picturesque Gesindedorf has been converted into charming rooms and apartments for guests. Rooms in the castle can be rented as event space. And in the old watermill with a wide glass front, hotel guests can have a wonderful breakfast with a view of the pond. If by any chance one of you is planning a wedding on the Lower Rhine - I could imagine this really well!
In the castle courtyard, and then not a knightly knight, but - even better! - a nice cook. Sebastian Franke has learned his culinary skills in the best houses, now owns his own restaurant, was also on TV and apparently also very like salad. Because he will prepare a dinner for us today with lots of greenery and vegetables. There are clearly worse messages.
But before we start feasting on, we will work on the salad for a while. Sebastian shows us with tweezers and a lot of meticulousness, as he would do a salad from his point of view as a chef. It creates a wonderful, small piece of art that you just want to look at and not want to eat! The bloggers and food editors are much more open-minded. We also have the opportunity to try our own salad plates and there are surprisingly different appetizing plates. (By the way, all of them - very conspicuous! - much fuller advised than the professional chef.) Maybe someone here is hungry ...?)
Sebastian Franke then swings himself to the pots and conjures up a ruckuzucki menu with salad and vegetables under our very own eyes.
• Lentil and salad Beetroot with caramelised goat's cheese and wild herbs
Pasta with pumpkin, its oil and seeds, young spinach, lemon and parmesan cheese
Two kinds of sweet potato with popcorn and vanilla
If you are hungry now and The strongest recipes can be found here on the Bonduelle homepage: Appetizer, main course and dessert I was particularly delighted with the dessert! The combination of sweet potato, ice cream and popcorn sounds a bit strange at first but it tastes amazing - a true blast! I can only guess: imitation.
What do you say - do you fancy eating salad and can you imagine sweet potato in the dessert?