Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nate completed the CAT/5 test yesterday and we got it in the mail for scoring. Today was a great day for a field trip. We visited Bravo Farms Cheese Factory in Traver, CA, just south of Kingsburg. They make cheese on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So, today we got to watch them make cheese. Nate will illustrate the process (in blue) and I will fill in the details.
That's the milk getting mixed. This vat holds 800 gallons of milk. Culture (bacteria) and salt is added to the milk. It is stirred slowly for a couple of hours as small curds are formed. We had lunch (and visited the gift shop and ice cream shop) in between checking the progress of the cheese.

That's the milk when it's acting like Jell-o. As the curd formed, they used these to cut the curd into small pieces. What you cannot see is the this wires about 1/4 inch apart. They cut the curd in both directions.

That's the milk getting drained. They drained the liquid from the curds. The liquid is called whey. Now you (and I) know what curds and whey is.

That's them stacking the curd up. After the whey is drained, they stir the curds to get as much liquid out as possible.

That's the curd when it was completely drained. They packed the curds along the sides and squeezed out more liquid. Then they cut the curds into chunks and moved them to another container to dry further.

Those are stacks of curd in the tub. The chunks are turned periodically to allow them to dry more.

They were cutting the curd up. Then the chop the curds up into small pieces. They gave us some cheese curds to taste at this point. It was a bit salty and had the texture of mozzarella, although it was white cheddar. I guess it needs to age for full flavor.

They were putting the curd in the boxes. They put the curd in these boxes, then put them in a hydraulic press that compressed the curds into 40 pound blocks of cheese.

The cheese factory also has this awesome tree house. You can go in and climb all the way to the top floor. The staircases inside were quite narrow. But, I managed. It was really neat.

There was also a lot of old farm and dairy equipment. This wagon was cool.

Definitely a fun field trip and close to home. I think we will this again sometime, maybe when Jacob is on vacation. It will be fun for him too. We brought home some fresh cheese and some chocolate treats. You can't go wrong with that!

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