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Cheese Days Ambassador: Part 2 - Cheesemaker uncle shares inside scoop on cheesemaking
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Hello, cheese fans. This month's article is part two from a discussion with my cheesemaker uncle Silvan Blum of Chalet's Deppeler Cheese Plant giving me the inside scoop on the process of making cheese.

At the Deppeler Plant, where cheese is produced five days a week, cheesemakers start with 25,000 pounds of milk for a yield of about 2,300 pounds of cheese on each of those days. But Silvan notes that a high moisture cheese uses less milk, whereas a low moisture cheese uses a substantial amount of milk. When making Baby Swiss, a typical yield on 100 pounds of milk would be 9 pounds of cheese. On the other hand, Limburger or Brick cheese has a yield around 12 pounds per 100 pounds of milk. The older the milk is, the lower the yield. It makes sense that the price of cheese goes by moisture due to the correlation to yield. There are larger cheese plants that process 13 million pounds of milk a day, seven days a week.

I asked Silvan if he has ever had to throw out a batch of cheese. He said, "Swiss Cheesemakers who have a 90-95 percent success rate are doing well." The Deppeler Cheese Factory has high standards for quality, taste and texture - as well as the goal of making a product that is safe and wholesome. Did you know that if cheese doesn't meet texture or taste standards, it goes on for additional processing and may become a product like Velveeta?

Silvan also told me that there are now fewer dairy farms in the area, but these farms are now larger and producing more milk. A trend in the last 10 years includes young farmers coming back to the family farm, and bringing with them ideas for increased automation. What used to take two weeks now might take two days. At our family farm, we used to milk 70 cows and had three or four hired hands. Back in the day, this was considered a huge farm. Now, most farms are well over 100 cows and this change took place so the farms could stay competitive. The cheese industry is moving in the same direction. Cheese plants need to automate various steps in the process to stay competitive. They have to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and increase output, while maintaining high-quality products. Cheesemaking is an art and always will be. To learn more about innovations that shaped cheesemaking in the past while setting the stage for Green County's role in the future of the industry, please visit the National Historic Cheese Making Center in Monroe.

Cheese Days has a variety of promotional appearances coming up. The entire "royal family" will be at Volksfest in New Glarus on Sunday and on Aug. 11, I will be at the Wisconsin State Fair for the Blue Ribbon Cheese and Butter Auction. On Aug. 12, I hope to see you at the special "sunset celebration" at Main Street Monroe's Concert on the Square.

We are less than two months away from the festival. The official map has been released and we are seeking volunteers to help with the beer stand, retail tent and hospitality tent. If you are interested, please visit and click on the volunteer tab or call the Cheese Days office at 608-325-7771. Also, make sure to follow Cheese Days and Cheese Days Ambassador on Facebook for the latest updates.

- Jana Duval Crandall is the 2016 Cheese Days Ambassador