Each one of us has held the famous octagonal jar in our hand and spread delicious Staud’s jam on our breakfast bread… But few of us are aware of how and where the many delicacies get into the jars. I would like to know and make an appointment with Stefan Schauer in production in Ottakring – not far from the famous Staud’s Pavillon at Yppenplatz. The black and white WIEN PRODUCTS city map shows me the way.
Before I turn into the courtyard, I read on the door: “Our secret? There is none!” My curiosity has been piqued. Since cleanliness and hygiene are of paramount importance here, there are work coats and hairnets, thorough hand washing and disinfecting before the doors to the production floor open.
I am surrounded by the scent of fruit – the employees here are busy filling jars with raspberries for compote. At my house it always turn to mush – I watch in amazement as the fragile berries land in the jar unscathed and learn the reason for this. In summertime, when all fruit ripens at almost the same time, they can’t be processed immediately. So the freshly harvested fruit is carefully frozen and processed later. The raspberries have to be handled particularly gently – they are frozen individually and later stored in containers in the cold storage. This way they keep their perfect shape when they are put in the jar frozen.
Where do the fruits, vegetables, and ingredients that end up in the jars here actually come from? Stefan Schauer explains, they strive to use as many local products as possible – the quality and availability are decisive factors. With apricots and sour cherries there are even source descriptions for the limited editions – you can trace the origin directly to the garden – like with the apricots from Venusberg garden in Lower Austria, upon which the Venus of Willendorf graces the twist-off lid. Other kinds like “Ungarische Beste” come partially from Hungary – oranges from Seville, for example, and cranberries from Scandinavia.
Stefan Schauer lists sugar, pectin, and apple juice concentrate as alternatives to the sugar and lemon juice concentrate for jam ingredients – they also come predominantly from local suppliers, as do the jars that they have made in Pöchlarn.
We are now on the way to the next production area and briefly switch from the 16th to the 17th district. Apricot jam is being made and filled in jars at the moment – I can follow the process live from the fruit to the jar. Very exciting. The apricots are sorted, cleaned, pitted, and frozen in the summertime as well – this way they retain their unique, flavorful aroma. The buckets with 10 kg of apricots each are thoroughly checked and emptied into a tub by hand – after being transported gently through a system of pipes, they land in an enormous pot that holds around 700 liters. Sugar and pectin are automatically measured to the exact gram and added – then it all begins. On a monitor we can see the inside of the pot, where a vacuum is fitted and where the mixture is heated to about 80 degrees while being stirred constantly.
I always thought you had to bring jam to a boil; now I learn how they do it at Staud’s.
Here – unlike for “homemade with 1:2 or 1:3 gelling sugar” – jam is made entirely free of preservatives. The vacuum in the pot also keeps the steam from escaping, since it holds flavor. Instead, it is captured as liquid and added to the mixture – like in distillation. I wouldn’t have guessed this – I’m impressed. Now the jam is finished. A sample is taken and tested for setting – I get to have a taste. Delicious, I am in apricot heaven! The jars can be filled.
At the other end of the room the jars stand ready on pallets. They are set on a conveyor belt by swift employee hands and run through the rinser, where the jars are then dried with sterile air. One after the other is filled with hot, fresh, delectably smelling apricot jam and immediately sealed with a black Staud’s twist-off lid. Finally, the jars are run through a hot bath where they are pasteurized. They pass by in perfectly straight lines to the label machine where their external values are applied – after all, these are also a feast for the eyes. Everywhere I look, I see busy employees, monitoring and intervening in processes, then packing the finished jars in shrink-wrap on pallets.
Variety is important here – along with 7 different jar sizes from 37ml to 1.7l, Staud’s makes what feels like hundreds of products. We wrap things up with a visit to the Pavillon at Yppenplatz – Staud’s flagship store. Lined up in tidy rows on the shelves are all the delicacies that we love and gourmets around the world treasure: a wide variety of gherkins, pickled vegetables, fruit compotes, jams of every flavor, wine jellies, syrups, new products like chocolate fruit combinations along with true classics like stewed and pureed plums.
Now, in early November, the octagonal Staud’s Christmas calendar is, naturally, an eye catcher in the shop. This year there is musical accompaniment – a pleasure for all the senses, so to speak.
I bid farewell to Stefan Schauer – certain that the extraordinary quality of the products is worth the enjoyable walk to Staud’s Pavillon at any time of the year.