October 30, 2019

McClure’s Pickles founder details what makes a great pickling cucumber

Bob McClure, co-owner of McClure’s Pickles in Detroit, sat down with Produce Processing to discuss his company’s processes, products and exactly what makes a great pickling cucumber.

Michigan grows more pickle cucumbers any other state, but the growing season is short. Where do you source the rest of the time?

A look inside McClure’s Pickles in Detroit. Photo: McClure’s Pickles

Bob McClure: When we first started out (in 2006), we were getting them from whomever we could get them from at a good price, because we were small and we didn’t have bargaining power. … Even then, we used local processors and local growers to help us get through certain seasonal gaps. Now we have enough buying power where we’re contracting with farmers. During the summer season from July through September, we’re ordering from our Michigan farmer. The rest of the season we use Mexico, Texas, Florida and up through where the sun warms up the ground. Then we’ll move up through the Rust Belt until we get back to Michigan.

You mentioned earlier that you just finished processing a stock of cucumbers, but now have an empty cooler. Are you looking at creating any other new lines? 

BM: I can’t have people not working for a couple of days because they’re going to start looking for other jobs. We have to have alternative products that we can

A look inside McClure’s Pickles in Detroit. Photo: McClure’s Pickles

make in case there is a shortage or say the cooler goes out and cucumbers go bad. What else are we processing so we can help our team and their families have a steady source of income. So are the things we’re always thinking about — how do we have alternative things we can process that aren’t supply chain dependent, or if they are, we can switch things over quickly.

We have these snack packs that are being put into the market. They’re the little tiny cornichon style pickles. They’re usually very tart, but we reformulated our brine mixture a bit to be more approachable to a younger audience. We’re excited because it offers a more approachable price point in retail (about $2 a pack). You can take them anywhere. They’re TSA-compliant, so you can even take them on a plane.

So, what makes a great pickling cucumber?

BM: If you ever cut open a cucumber, there are seeds in it. The larger the seeds are, the more water content that cucumber has, which over time means it’s going to be mushier. It’s not going to be as crunchy. … When working with our farmers, if we have the opportunity for them to grow the seeds that we choose, we’re choosing those that have very small seeds or even no seeds at all.

— By Zeke Jennings, managing editor

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