OUR KNOW HOW
What is the driving force of what we do at Maison Roucadil? Working to showcase a magnificent local product, the Agen Prune PGI, whilst conserving a human scale in a process that has become more industrial in size, and always keeping quality at the heart of every decision.
The aim of these audits is to check that Maison Roucadil is able to keep a full control on the quality and safety of their products. Audits are conducted once a year by the organizations which grant IFS or BRC certification.
Maison Roucadil was awarded this certification in 2022. It highlights human sized businesses that have ethical and responsible business practices. When you buy products with the PME+ logo you are supporting French businesses that do more for the environment, for their employees and for our society.
Maison Roucadil ‘s Agen prunes are PGI certified : that means that the plums – Ente variety only - are grown, gathered and dried in a specific geographical area (departement du Lot et Garonne and small parts of adjoining departments : Lot, Gers, Dordogne, Gironde, Tarn et Garonne). The specifications for this PGI are very strict and a full traceability is required.
PDO certified means that all stages of production take place in a specified geographical area and according to a specific know how. The PDO products from Maison Roucadil are walnut kernels (PDO Perigord)
The logo for organic products certifies that the products are made according to organic agriculture specifications. Biosource is Maison Roucadil’s brand for organic products. The green leaf logo is the European Union organic logo.
The High Environmental Value (HVE in French) certification guarantees that all the agricultural practices used on a farm aim at preserving the natural ecosystem and reducing to a minimum its impact on the environment (earth, water, biodiversity, etc.) It is a voluntary system for agriculturalists and industrialists to highlight their good practices. This is an official certification awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Zero Pesticide Residue (ZRP) certificate was created by the New Fields Collective (Collectif Nouveaux Champs) to guarantee that products bearing this label do not contain pesticide residue (as far as can be measured). The Treatment Registers for the crop and neighbouring crops are analysed and samples of the crop are analysed at the time of harvest to ensure the label’s criteria are met.
FOCUS ON AGEN PRUNES
Information about Agen prunes
Origin France, PGI
Variety Ente plum
* Fruits in 500g
AGEN PRUNES FROM THE TREE TO THE SHOP
Planting the orchards
The trees are planted in a way that allows them to grow naturally and also allows for the passage of machinery. Right from the beginning, the plum trees are regularly pruned to create a shape that will allow the sun to penetrate the whole tree, encouraging the fruit to ripen whilst remaining healthy, and also encouraging a more homogenous and better-quality crop (large fruits) that is also bigg
Pollination and watering
Insects pollinate the flowers. Beehives are sometimes placed in the orchards to facilitate this. The trees are watered using water from irrigation basins that are filled from water courses during the winter and then disconnected from them in the summer.
Harvesting the plums
The harvest runs from mid-August to mid-September. It is done by gently shaking the tree. The plums fall onto collars surrounding the tree. This is the best method for harvesting the greatest number of plums. In order to only pick the ripest plums, requires picking each orchard 5 or 6 times
The Ente plums are transported to the drying centre where they are washed and sorted. Then they are spread out on large racks, known as “claies”, ready to be dried. This step is called “enclayage”. These racks are then placed on trolleys which will be put into the drying tunnels. These tunnels can each dry 11 tonnes of plums a day. It requires between 3 and 3.5 kg of fresh Ente plums to produce 1kg of Agen prunes, after a drying process of 20 to 24 hours at a gentle heat. By this stage the moisture content has been reduced to 23%. To create the traditional mi-cuit Agen prune, the drying is stopped when the moisture level is still at 35%. For the ones known as Molles (soft), the moisture level is 40%. These two products will therefore need to be stored under negative cold conditions as they are more sensitive to microbial growth.
Sorting and storing
During this operation fruit that is split, damaged, blemished or not properly dried is removed. The sorting is generally done by hand on sorting belts. The prunes will be stored in paloxes (large, slatted bins made of either wood or plastic) lined with large food-grade polyethylene bags. These bins are then placed in suitable warehouses, preferably out of the light, where the humidity and temperature are constant (6°c and 70% humidity).
Sorting and sizing
When prunes are delivered, they are sorted to check the quality. According to the rules, Agen prunes should have a moisture content of between 15% and 23%. Perforated grills are used to size the prunes. The openings on the grills change in size, going from the smallest to the largest, so that the prunes fall into their respective boxes. The sized prunes are then put back into refrigerated storage.
In order to get soft, ready-to-eat prunes, the prunes undergo a warm rehydration process in the Montayral factory. They are soaked for between 15 and 30 minutes. Agen prunes will then have a moisture content of 35%. If mi-cuit or soft prunes are being processed, this step is not necessary.
Packaging and pasteurisation
Once the Agen prunes have been rehydrated they can be stoned if necessary. Then they are usually put into packets. The packets of prunes are spread over racks which are put on trolleys and then put into ovens for a special heat-treatment pasteurisation which means the prunes do not contain any preservat
40% moisture content 100% plum juice
35% moisture content 100% plum juice
35% moisture content
100% OF THE PRUNES ARE USED
In order to limit the impact of agriculture on the environment, nothing is wasted :
What’s rejected during sortings
Medium and large prunes
OTHER DRIED FRUIT
As well as prunes we offer a range of other products (20% of our activity). Our selection is guided by their origin and the social and environmental practices in their production. Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, mirabelle plums, damsons, tomatoes, apples and courgette and sunflower seeds are locally produced. The producers of our imported items (cocoa beans and other fruits) are audited via their contract documents.
OUR CHOCOLATE AND CONFECTIONERY WORKSHOP
In 2008, following our installation in the new building at Montayral, a new specialist workshop was inaugurated. This workshop is designed to showcase Agen prunes in all their glory like prunes stuffed with cream of prune, or chocolate coated prunes. But not just delicious specialties of Agen, we work with other French regional specialties like walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. When you come to our Montayral factory shop it will be a feast for your eyes, nose and tastebuds! The production is artisanal, created from high quality chocolate, selected for its taste. We are artisans of chocolate.