Our production process
Home / Our production process
From Cow to Refrigerator
We make cheese. Very nice cheese! For the sandwich. On pizza. Or as an appetizer. The secret of our first-class cheese? The best milk, the most modern technology and a lot of experience. But how does the cow’s milk travel until it arrives in your fridge as a tasty Gouda? Here we explain how we painstakingly make our tasty cheeses. Despite the large scale of our production facilities, we make our cheeses with craftsmanship. Safety, sustainability and innovation are of paramount importance in our production process. And we enjoy our work!
Our cheese is largely made from the milk of the dairy farmers of DOC Kaas U.A. This milk is collected from the dairy farmers by tanker (Rijdende Melk Ontvangst – RMO) and transported to one of the two production locations in Hoogeveen. There the RMO unloads the milk at one of the unloading points.
At the unloading site, an unloading hose is connected to the tanker and the milk flows into the receiving tank to the basement. From this tank, the milk is pumped to the large storage tanks, which are located next to the plant.
Pre-treatment of milk
In order to make the cheese tenable, the milk is heated (thermized) in the prefab factory as soon as possible after receipt and during this process we bring the milk to the right fat content (standardization).
The surplus fat that is released during this process is pasteurized and delivered as cream to third parties who process this ingredient further, for example into butter.
Before making the cheese, the cheese milk is pasteurised (briefly heated) at approximately 72 degrees Celsius. Pasteurisation kills any pathogenic bacteria in the cheese. After pasteurisation, the milk is once again cooled to the temperature needed for cheesemaking. At this point the cheese milk is ready to become real cheese.
During the production process, whey is released at various times. Whey is a liquid that is used to make other products. This whey goes through two centrifuges, where the remaining cheese particles are removed. Next, the whey is cooled and pumped through tubes to the production location of our “neighbor” wheyco. Wheyco turns the whey into protein and lactose powder. Protein powder is an important ingredient for sports, dietary and senior nutrition. Lactose powder is processed in bakery products, chocolate and pet food, among other things.
The cheese milk (from the pre-production plant) is prepared into cheese in the cheese factory. This takes place in cheese preparation tanks which are filled with cheese milk. Additives such as lactic acid and rennet are added. As the milk mass curdles (thickens in structure), a jelly is formed. This jelly is cut and stirred, releasing whey for the first time. During this process, whey is drained several times. Finally, a mixture of a solid mass (cheese curd) and whey is created. This mixture then goes to the buffer tanks.
The mixture of curd and whey is dosed from the buffer tanks at the top of the Casomatic. Here, the remaining whey is drained out and discharged, leaving only the curd mass. At the bottom of the machine, the curd block is cut off and enters the cheese barrel.
Each cheese is given a virtual number. This unique number is printed on the label after the cheese is packaged. In this way, it is possible to trace each cheese.
After filling into cheese barrels, we press the cheese to get a firm block with a nice rind. The pressing also releases whey. This whey is collected and added to the whey stream that was created earlier in the process.
Then comes the time to salt the cheese. After pressing, the cheese is salted in a large bath for several days. This process enhances the shelf life of the product, increases its firmness and gives flavor to the cheese. The duration of the brining process depends on the type of cheese and varies from a few hours to several days.
The cheeses are collected by twelve in rows of five. This group is then placed in a layer of the cage. After a cage layer is filled with a group of cheeses, the cage drops one layer and a new group can be placed in the cage. When the cage is completely filled, it is sunk into the bathtub using a crane track.
When the cheese is brined out, it is removed from the tub. Layer by layer the cheeses flow out of the cage. Via a sorting system the cheese is prepared for transport, piece by piece.
Ripening, cutting and packaging
After brining, foil cheese is packaged immediately and the natural cheese must mature. We do this at the Zuivelpark. This also applies to the natural cheese that we produce on the Alteveerstraat. This cheese is rinsed after brining, placed in cheese boxes and transported to the Dairy Park where it can mature. The natural and foil cheese remain in the warehouse for several weeks before they are transported further.
Natural cheese matures for about fifteen days at the Dairy Park. We have room for one and a half million naturally ripened cheeses in the ripening warehouse. This ripening process in the warehouse listens closely. The combination of the recipe with the right air speed, humidity and temperature determine the taste experience. In addition, the cheese receives several coats to protect the product from external influences and to promote the maturing process.
The natural cheese is now ready for shipment to the next maturation warehouse at Uniekaas in Kaatsheuvel. Here the cheese matures to the various final ages; from young to old. Because of the coating the cheeses are firm and can be transported without packaging. After this comes the next treatment: cutting and packaging. For example, naturally matured cheese is processed into wedges, flat pieces, slices or grated cheese. Now the cheese is ready for your refrigerator!
Part of the cheese produced is foil cheese. This cheese is wrapped in foil immediately after pickling and stored in boxes in the foil warehouse. These cheeses are stored in the foil warehouse at a temperature of 3.5 degrees for approximately four weeks. The cheese is young and intended for industrial customers; for example, for slices of hotel cheese or for pizzas.
The cheeses are “unboxed” and placed in boxes or on pallets for the customer. The truck is ready at one of the ten pick-up points, where the driver loads the cheeses into the truck. Now the foil cheese is ready to be transported all over the world!
During the milk processing process, storage of semi-finished products such as cream or whey takes place at several points. These are stored in tanks. The cream and whey are further processed into finished products at other locations.