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Flat Aggie Visits Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Greetings from Mt. Olive Pickle Company! We are dill-lighted to have Flat Aggie visit us this week!

Corner of Cucumber & VineMt. Olive Pickle is based in our hometown of Mount Olive, North Carolina. We have been making pickles since 1926 at the most famous address in Eastern North Carolina: the Corner of Cucumber & Vine (pictured at right). We were founded by a group of local business people who wanted to create a new market for the community’s farmers. Today we make the second best-selling brand of pickles, peppers and relishes in the country, with distribution in all 50 states – including Illinois!

We are named for our hometown of Mount Olive – the town was here first. One of the stories is that the town got its name from the biblical Mount of Olives (one of the town’s founders back in 1850 was the son of a Baptist minister.) But we are located on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, in Eastern North Carolina about 90 minutes from the coast, and there’s not a hill in sight, much less a mountain. And while our name includes the word Olive, the climate here isn’t good for growing olives. So, there are no mounts in Mount Olive, or olives, either. Just pickles!

Flat Aggie learned how we make pickles here. When he was in our production areas he had to wear a hairnet just like our employees!

Tank YardThe first thing to know about what we do is that we make two kinds of pickles: processed and fresh pack. Pictured here is Flat Aggie on our tank yard. We have 1,100 of these fiberglass tanks. One tank averages 800 bushels of cucumbers, and when they are all full we have over 40 million pounds of cucumbers on our tank yard. Fresh cucumbers that go into these tanks are fermented, or processed. The cucumbers hang out in our tank yard for several months before we make them into pickles – usually in the winter time. These are our sweets and sours, relishes and sour cubes.

The other kind of pickle we make is fresh pack. This means that we do not ferment our cucumbers first. We simply wash them, cut them up, and put them into jars for packing. These are our kosher dills, bread & butter pickles, our hot n spicy pickles, and our peppers.

Whether it’s processed or fresh pack, when it’s time to put them into jars we start first with a thorough washing. Then we bring the clean product inside our plant for cutting and placement into jars. We pour in the pickle juice (also known as cover brine for dill and syrup for sweet), add the caps, and then we cook them in one of our pasteurizers. This is what makes our pickles shelf-stable, meaning you can find them on the pickle aisle rather than the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

Flat Aggie checks out one of our cutting machines. This one is cutting whole pickles into hamburger dill chips.

Flat Aggie checks out one of our cutting machines. This one is cutting whole pickles into hamburger dill chips.

Most of our pickles are packed by machine. The machine shakes them into jars as the jars go by underneath. If they don't make it into the jar the first time, they go back around again.

Most of our pickles are packed by machine. The machine shakes them into jars as the jars go by underneath. If they don’t make it into the jar the first time, they go back around again.

Some of our products - our spears and our sandwich stuffers - are packed by hand.

Some of our products – our spears and our sandwich stuffers – are packed by hand.

Flat Aggie gets a good view of our briner. This pours the pickle juice into the jars.

Flat Aggie gets a good view of our briner. This pours the pickle juice into the jars.

These peppers are going into our pasteurizer, where we cook our pickles and peppers to make them shelf stable.

These peppers are going into our pasteurizer, where we cook our pickles and peppers to make them shelf stable.

Once out of the pasteurizer, we Labeling Machineadd the labels, the production code and best by information, and a tamper evident band around the lid. Our labeling machine puts two labels on every jar – the big one on the front, and the smaller one with all the fine print on the back.
Pickles in the trayOur pickles are then placed into trays and the trays are placed on pallets, ready for shipping. Flat Aggie counts the cases as they go by!

We pack over 130 million jars of products here at our plant in Mount Olive, which is our only manufacturing site. We buy most of our fresh cucumbers and peppers from several different states, including Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas. We also buy some pickles and peppers from Mexico, India, Greece and Peru!

We hope you have enjoyed Flat Aggie’s visit. Our employees certainly enjoyed showing him around.

Happy learning….
Lynn Williams
Public Relations Manager
Mt. Olive Pickle Company

All finished, these pickles will go to our distribution center, and from there we'll ship them out so they wind up in a grocery store near you!

All finished, these pickles will go to our distribution center, and from there we’ll ship them out so they wind up in a grocery store near you!

 

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4 responses to “Flat Aggie Visits Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

  1. Love it! How could I get Flat Aggie to visit our Cage culture Fish Farm in Southern Illinois?

  2. Pingback: Flat Aggie: About Specialty Crops | Rural Route 2

  3. What fun! I canned pickles for the first time ever this year from my first garden ever. 🙂 So, I have a new respect for Mt. Olive and all the pickles they produce every year.

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