Visit to the Reitzel Factory in Aigle
Ah, pickles and small onions to complement your raclette... They are an essential part of our culinary landscape, but do you know where these precious little vegetables come from? Today, we take you to a mythical place in Aigle, to discover Switzerland's last and only pickle factory: the Reitzel factory, in operation since 1909. Let's explore the secrets behind the making of these famous pickles and other small delights we love.
✎︎ Alpes Vaudoises, ©︎ Alpes Vaudoises, ※︎ July 2023
Why we loved It ❤️🔥
The well-guided tour filled with anecdotes, perfect for families with children 🏭
Watching the procession of pickles on their conveyor belt before being jarred 🥒
Tasting pickles to end the tour on a delicious note 🤩
The HUGO Shop, to stock up on pickled vegetables and related products 🛍️
Welcome to the Pickle World!
As we pass through the factory gate, a giant pickle statue greets us, indicating that we have arrived at our destination. We are welcomed at the shop, and then we head to the changing rooms to put on our special tour attire: lab coat, hairnet, and audio headset...
Entering the building requires strict hygiene standards. In fact, we cannot enter the first part of the factory, the vinegar section, without first disinfecting our shoes on a small conveyor belt.
Inside, we discover enormous tanks where 9,000 liters of vinegar are prepared daily before entering the pickle section. We witness here the parade of freshly washed pickles on a conveyor belt, sorted before being jarred.
Outside the factory, there is a massive machine called the calibrator. It sorts the pickles, directly brought by farmers to the factory, eliminating those that don't meet the size standards, known as "rejects."
These rejected pickles are collected and stored in crates at the entrance of the building. As part of the "Too Good to Go" initiative, for CHF 2, individuals can fill a box with pickles and preserve them at home. The money raised will be donated to Swiss Tables, a wonderful anti-waste initiative!
Outside the building, we also take a moment to admire the old silo, once containing mustard seeds, now no longer in use. A project with a local artist is underway to give it a new purpose, but our guide doesn't reveal more! Stay tuned.
Vinegar, Pickles, Sauces & Co
Now, we move on to the sauce workshop, where 600kg of mayonnaise are prepared every hour in giant bowls. Today, on the assembly line, the Grand-Mère Aïda salad dressing is being prepared (in honor of Hugo Reitzel's wife, who used to make her famous salad dressing in her kitchen).
The tour concludes at the storage hall, measuring the size of two football fields. Here, jars of pickles, chanterelles, small onions, and other delights are stored, ready to be shipped all over Switzerland.
Time for Tasting at the HUGO Shop
After removing our tour attire, we return to the Hugo Shop to taste various specialties: pickles with herbs from the Grand St-Bernard, curry-flavored zucchini, Ollon's small onions... all accompanied by a refreshing cucumber and mint-based drink.
The shop's atmosphere is pleasant and well-designed, making us want to stock up on jars of pickles! Special mention for the merchandising items, with a personal favorite being the Reitzel pickle socks.