Cheddar Cheese. Probably one of the most well known and popular cheese types in the world. Cheddar cheese has a slightly nutty flavor and a semi-hard texture. The longer cheddar cheese ages the "sharper" it tastes. For some mild cheddar is perfect and others prefer the sharpiest they can get (that would be me)!
Many varieties of cheddar that are produced have added food coloring to make the cheese color more consistent, but cheddar cheese is naturally off-white. So all those pretty orange/yellow blocks of cheddar cheese you see... food coloring! We skip this step and let the pretty off-white color of the natural cheddar shine.
So, how do we get from cow's milk to those delicious cheese slices on your crackers. Well let's find out!
As with all cheese you need the raw ingredients to start. Milk comes in from our farms and is delivered three or four days a week. The only other ingredients used are rennet, enzymes and salt!
After the milk arrives to our creamery it is pasteurized. Our pasteurizer is high-temp, short-time or HTST. Our milk is heated up to 162F for 15 seconds. HTST pasteurization is great because it kills all the potentially bad bacteria that could make you sick in the milk, but it doesn't heat it high enough to denature proteins of change the structure of the milk. This means there is minimal, if any, change to the flavor of the milk and keeps it as close natural as possible.
After pasteurization milk is pumped into our cheese curd vats, enzymes and rennet are added, and the milk is cooked until a curd forms. The cheese is then cut with large knives and the whey is drained from the vats. The cheese forms a large mat of cheddar that is cut into smaller chunks. These chunks are stacked and flipped multiple times (this is known as cheddaring). The acidity of the whey draining off is tested. This test tells us when to flip and when to stop the cheddaring process.
When the cheese is done it is time to mill and salt. Salting the cheese enhances the flavor, pulls moisture out and also can help regulate microbial growth. The curds are stirred in the cheese vat to make sure they are coated evenly with the salt and then the fun of pressing cheese begins!
Cheese curds that are going to be turned into cheddar are weighed out to ensure the correct amount is packed into the cheese forms. The forms are lined with cheese cloth and filled with cheese curds. Usually, we fill the molds up, squeeze the curd down and then pack the last five pounds in by hand.
The cheese cloth is folded over the curd and the lid goes on! Cheese forms get placed on the cheese press and squeezed down. The pressure from the cheese press removes excess whey and causes the curds to knit back together into a large block of cheese.
After the blocks have been pressed they are removed from the forms, placed into bags and vacuum sealed shut. Then our 40 pound blocks of cheese are placed on the shelf to age. Cheddar ages anywhere from 30 days to 8 years. The oldest aged cheddar that we have is 2 plus years old!
Looking to learn more about our cheese and want to check out our processing plant? Come visit and set up a tour! You can find all our cheeses (and more) on our retail store shelves and specialty shops around the tri-state area. If you can't make it in, shop online and have our block cheddar and cheese curds delivered straight to your front door.
You finally did it! Grabbed a gallon of WW Homestead Dairy milk at your local grocery store... only to get home, open it up, and ewww.... it's all globby and curdled on top!
But wait! Then you remember this non-homogenized thing you've been hearing about. What's that again?
Non-homogenized or cream-line milk, is milk in it's most natural state. Milk is made up of water, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. When unprocessed milk sits undisturbed the large fat globules will begin to separate out and rise to the top of the glass. All you have to do is shake or stir it up and magically the cream redistributes throughout the milk and looks "normal" again.
Most milk that is bottled up in our modern age is homogenized to make it more appealing and consistent for consumers. In order to homogenize milk it must go through a mechanical and completely unnecessary step. Milk is heated, agitated and then forced through a small screen at high pressure. This breaks up the large fat globules into smaller, more uniform pieces. These smaller fat globules no longer rise to the top, instead they stay in suspension throughout the liquid part of the milk.
Sure, homogenization is just a mechanical process that does not change the nutrition or caloric content of milk, but there is anecdotal evidence that some people find natural, non-homogenized milk easier to digest. We have talked to folks who thought they were lactose intolerant, who find they can drink our milk with no issues (although there is no studies that prove this, so try at your own risk!). In it's natural form milk is sweeter, creamier and more flavorful than homogenized milk. The best way to know if you can taste a difference is to try it!
So, if WW Homestead Dairy doesn't homogenize their milk is it still safe to drink!? Absolutely! Our milk is not homogenized, but it is still pasteurized. These are completely different processes. Pasteurization is used to kill any harmful bacteria that may have found their way into our product.
WW Homestead Dairy produces whole, 1%, skim and skim chocolate milk. Why not 2%? If you were with us waayyyyy back when we first started you might remember that 2% milk was in our line up. After a short time, we noticed that because of the smoother and creamier taste of non-homogenized milk, our 1% tasted just as good as any 2% homogenized milk you could buy off the shelf. So we discontinued the 2% and now just offer whole and 1% non-homogenized milk.
If you have questions or want to learn more about how we process our creamline products give us a call and set up a tour! We'll show you around our processing plant and you can see exactly how we process your milk, butter and ice cream.
We know your here because your looking for the BEST cheese curds you can get! Read more about how we started our cheese curd journey here and check out our other products here.
And now... drum roll please.... check out this list of stores to find cheese curds near you! I have linked as many as possible, but if we missed you, send us a message or comment below and we'll get you added. AND remember to check your local Fareway Grocery Stores for our cheese curds. Ask at the meat counter if you don't see them.
Ever wonder about what it takes to make that container of cottage cheese you grab off the grocery store shelf? Maybe not, but I bet you'd be surprised to find out it takes 10-11 hours to turn a vat full of milk into your cottage cheese!
We usually start filling our cottage cheese vat around 2 AM. The pasteurized (but not homogenized!) milk that is pumped into the vat is what will eventually become the "curd" part of the finished product. It gets a few ingredients added to it, a little stir and then it sits for HOURS while we wait for the magic to happen.
Meanwhile, we begin working on the dressing, which is the liquid part of cottage cheese. Milk and cream in our raw room is mixed up, pasteurized, cooled and then stored in a tank until the time comes to mix it with the curd. Then we head back to the curd vat...
And magically the curd has appeared! It is all one giant mat of cheese and needs to be cut with special cheese knives, to make the tiny curd pieces you find in your cottage cheese container. After we cut it then it has to be cooked, so we stir and cook, and stir and cook, and stir and cook for a couple more hours. Finally, we get to start draining the whey off the curd and eventually, we have a giant vat of cottage cheese curd that is ready to be mixed with the dressing. Dressing is added and then we package our finished product into the containers that you pick up at your local store!
Want to see the process in action? Come visit us and take a tour of our processing plant! We can't guarantee that you will get to see cottage cheese being made, but we process our products almost every day, Monday-Friday, so chances are pretty good you will be able to learn about how we make our non-homogenized milk, cheese curds, butter or ice cream. To set up a tour give us a call at (563)568-4950 or email at email@example.com.
Looking for our non-homogenized cottage cheese near you? Check out these local stores. Don't see your store or town listed! Let us know where you would like to see our products and we will do our best to get them to you.
Waukon - WW Homestead Dairy Retail Store, Fareway Waukon, Quillins
Decorah Fareway - Decorah, IA
Timbe Ridge Country Market - Osceola, IA
Iowa Food Cooperative - Des Moines, IA
Steve's Country Meats - Genoa, WI
Moore Family Farm - Maquoketa, IA
Country View Dairy - Hawkeye, IA
HyVee Asbury - Dubuque, IA
Cresco Fareway - Cresco, IA
Udder Brothers Creamery - Boscobel, WI
By the Spoonful - McGregor, IA
Unionland Feed & Food Market - West Union, IA
Local Oven Bakery - Prairie du Chien, WI
Share your favorite award winning cheese with your favorite people this holiday season! You can choose from our pre-designed boxes or customize your own. Customized boxes may feature any of the locally produced cheeses, salsa, sauces or gifts you find in our retail store. WW Homestead Dairy cheese boxes are the perfect gift for the foodies in your life or the hostess of your holiday party. Check out the descriptions and order forms below. You can also shop our pre-designed boxes online!
It's the most wonderful time of the year to send you loved ones your favorite cheese! Check out our online store to ship fresh, squeaky cheese curds, freshly churned butter and other great local products to your family (or send some to yourself to complete your holiday parties!) If you would like to send a more customized box check out our Gift Box & Shipping page for order forms & descriptions.
WW Homestead Dairy won awards in both the American Cheese Society judging, in Denver, CO, and the Iowa State Fair Iowa Quality Dairy contest this past summer.
A record number of dairy products were entered in the ACS competition, 2,000+ entries from 281 different producers. In the flavored cheese curd class, WW Homestead Dairy placed 1st with their Chipotle Morita cheese curds, and 2nd with Jalapeno Ranch cheese curds. At the Iowa State Fair, WW Homestead Dairy placed 1st in the Cow Milk Cheeses class with their Bloody Mary cheese curds and 3rd with their White Cheddar cheese curds. In the Butter their Salted Butter placed 3rd.
“Ever since we began making and selling our cheese curds we have heard from our customers how great they are and how they brought back memories of the fresh, squeaky cheese curds they used to get from local creameries. These awards validate our belief that we have some of, if not the best cheese curds and butter around,” said Paul Weighner, co-owner of WW Homestead Dairy.
WW Homestead Dairy is a family run dairy processing plant, that began producing their first cheese curds the summer of 2011 and has since adopted the title of “The Cheese Curd Capital of Iowa”. All the milk used to produce their cheese curds, cheddar cheese, cream line milk, ice cream & butter comes from the Walleser & Weighner famiy dairy farms.