Make cheese in the pilot brewery? We do that

Ouor cheesemaking day started about 11 am.

Our cheesemaking day started about 11 am (after sanitizing the equipment) when we “batch” pasteurized 65 gallons of milk, at about 4% fat, into our pilot cheese vat. We cooled the milk to 88º F and added the mesophillic lactic starter culture, let it ripen for 60 minutes and added a pure veal rennet to set the milk. This picture was taken just after cutting the “curd” into 3/8 inch cubes from  one large mass. Dan is holding the “harp” that we used to cut the curd, creating surface area to strat the “wheying off” of the  curd.

What do we do when the Extract Plant has 33,000 pounds of milk leftover at the end of a malted milk campaign? Promise the staff fresh cheese curds by the end of the day made, where else, but in our Pilot Brewery.

So today Dan (Tech Services staff and Pilot Brewery guru) and I spent the day turning 65 gallons of milk into about 70 pounds of fresh cheese curds. I’m a licensed cheesemaker in the State of Wisconsin, and enjoy taking opportunities like this to train our staff in this fine craft. Today’s production was small scale, made in a 65-gallon pilot cheese vat produced by Stoelting.

Here are pictures of the process and, yes, the staff enjoying fresh cheese curds at the end of the day. About the malted milk campaign…. Briess is the nation’s largest producer of malted milk. We also dry it into malted milk powder. So when you bite into a Briess malted milk ball, not only are you enjoying malt made by Briess, you’re also enjoy malted milk powder made by Briess. Cheers and have a great week.

The wheying off process.

The wheying off process will result in about 10% of the volume becoming the curd.  Next Dan runs the paddle down the sides to separate the curd from the sides, then we stir for about 30 minutes in order to keep the individual curd pieces from matting in to one large mass.

Director of Malting Ops Dave Kuske stops by and samples the curd that's still quite soft, but already taking on a cheddar-cheese flavor.

Director of Malting Ops Dave Kuske stops by and samples the curd that’s still quite soft, but already taking on a cheddar-cheese flavor.

This is how it looks after stirring is complete.

This is how it looks after stirring is complete.

It's time to start heating the mass to get the whey to expel faster from the curd.

It’s time to start heating the mass to get the whey to expel faster from the curd. We do this by heating the vat with low pressure steam, and over 30 minutes raise the temp to 102º F at controlled rate.

We cut through the curds witha knife, then stack the slices. This is called "cheddaring".

We cut through the curds with a knife, then stack the slices. This is called “cheddaring”.

Dan tries his hand at it.

Dan tries his hand at it.

The process of flipping and stacking is repeated six times.

The process of flipping and stacking is repeated six times and, for a batch this size, took about 60 minutes. Now it’s time to prepare the curds. We use a sharp knife to cut into to approximate 3/4 x 3/4 x 2 inch strips.

After cutting the curds into small pieces, we add salt and mix it thoroughly to evenly distribute the salt.

After cutting the curds into small pieces, we add salt and mix it thoroughly to evenly distribute the salt.

This 15-pound chuck is distined to be aged into a block of white cheddar cheese.

This 15-pound chunk is destined to be aged into a block of white cheddar cheese.

Very happy employees enjoying the cheese curds.

Here’s Connie (left) and Annette in the Customer Service Department enjoying the fresh curds.

Posted in The Briess Beat | Tagged , , , .
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