While many people enjoy doner every day across the UK, few people outside of the Kebab Industry know how this tasty treat is produced. Eager to show the public more, BritShish visited doner factories to learn about the manufacturing process.
The earliest doner factories first started operating in the 1980s, later spreading with the wide mushrooming of food businesses selling doner during the 1990s. In Germany, where the first doner factories were established, it is estimated that there are about 800 production facilities operating in the country today, while in the UK this figure sits at around 200.
Doner kebabs are now sold all over the UK, even reaching takeaways in the most remote towns and villages in refrigerated vehicles. Many kebab businesses buy ready-made doner spits from manufacturers because of the specific skills and high ability required to produce and prepare doner meat. Aside from London, doner factories also operate in many other large and medium-sized British cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Burton upon Trent and Doncaster.
In factories, ready-made doner production often begins with lamb and a small amount of beef and chicken meat from meat wholesalers. Doner is more commonly understood to be made from lamb—not beef or pork—in the UK market. About 75 percent of the country’s total doner production is lamb. Most of the doner factories buy lamb breast, neck, shoulder and in pieces as cutlets. After the meat is minced with large shredders, spices and herbs such as salt, garlic, oregano and even sometimes coriander are added. The spices and mixtures used tend to vary from company to company. Spices used in curry can also be added to the traditional doner variety in accordance with the preferences of the UK market.
The meat is mashed, weighed and then passed into large skewers in round pieces. This is where the skill of doner factory workers is crucial. It is the job of these craftsmen to assemble the doner by attaching it to the spit as minced meat, using thin pieces to shape the meat completely placed on the skewers with the rotating blades. Cutting and shaping the meat on skewers in a smooth and cylindrical way is a process that requires attention and care.
After the completion of this work, the meat is removed from the skewers and carefully wrapped up, stocked and stored in freezers. Later, the process of cooking doner kebabs distributed in refrigerated vehicles throughout the country is also a very demanding phase. Doner meat which is also kept in freezers at shops, is mounted on gas-powered doner machines and cooked at a low temperature until they first defrost and then fry thoroughly