INFRASTRUCTURE

Part I: Facility Design

When designing a facility that will be inspected, it’s important to keep a number of basic rules in mind.

The cheese processing room will be similar to the milk house in its construction. For those who have already built a milk house this will be relatively easy to understand. For those new to building a facility that will be inspected I have included some points to consider:

  • Materials should be smooth and impermeable;
  • No wood below 2’ from the floor;
  • Floors sloped CORRECTLY to drains to prevent puddles;
  • Slope all sills;
  • Materials should be easily cleaned;
  • Floor drains must have covers (and be rodent proof);
  • Ventilation and aeration are important. If near a barn, look into systems that will purify the incoming air. Understand the difference between ventilation and aeration. This is equally important in the cave and in the processing area.
  • Keep the hand washing sink handy to production area. Stock with soaps and towels. Do not use as a storage spot.
  • Covered light fixtures. Some inspectors do not like lights directly over vats. No conduits ever over vats or cheese processing areas due to condensation.
  • Adequate rodent control, including screens, holes covered, etc.
  • Separate bathroom for employees only if non-family members are hired or if location is far from existing facilities.
  • Physically separate and label raw milk receiving and production areas and equipment/supplies from pasteurized receiving and production areas, equipment/supplies;
  • Areas where cheese touch a surface should be stainless steel or FDA approved food grade plastic. Aging shelves may be wood, but a sanitary protocol should be implemented and followed to ensure lack of contamination.
  • Coolers do not need drains, but floors must be sloped to the doorways so that they can be cleaned and dried;
  • Farmstead cheese makers do not need to test each batch for antibiotics. If they are used on the farm, however, it is good practice to have batches tested prior to makes as the presence of even a small amount will kill all cultures and enzymes, rendering a batch wasted.
  • Potable water supply. The quality will have to be superb with little off flavors for wash curd cheeses. Testing will be done every six months by inspectors. Do it yourself periodically if in doubt.
  • It is ideal to collect all whey and either field spread or feed to alternative livestock (pigs, heifers, veal, chickens, etc.). Some use it in baking for on-farm bakeries as well.
  • Low velocity systems in aging caves. Below ground caves are desired.  Systems should be installed to ensure CONSISTENT temperature and humidity based on the needs of the cheese.

Part II: Equipment Needs

The following outlines equipment needs for various types of products you may decide to make.

Raw Milk Cheese

  • furnace or steam boiler
  • milk pump and hauling tank or milk cans
  • Stainless Steel piping and/or milk hose
  • Cheese Vat
  • Cream Separator
  • Drain Table and or press table
  • Hoops and followers
  • Cheese cloth
  • Drain matting
  • Milk Stirrer and other tools (eg curd fork, shovel, squeegee)
  • Curd Harps
  • Curd Scoop and or pail
  • Curd Mill
  • Vacuum sealing machine and or wax system (if rindless cheese)
  • Weights for direct pressing
  • cheese press
  • wooden boards and drying kiln or metal shelving with plastic netting
  • whey removal system
  • hot water kettle for pasta filata cheeses

Soft Ripened Cheese made from Pasteurized Milk

  • furnace or steam boiler
  • milk pump and hauling tank or milk cans
  • Stainless Steel piping and/or milk hose
  • Vat or tubs or basins
  • Vat Pasteurizer or HTST System
  • Air Compressor if using HTST
  • Ice Bank or other water cooling system
  • Cream Separator
  • Drain Table
  • Hoops
  • Cheese cloth
  • Drain matting
  • Milk Stirrer and or ladles
  • Curd Scoop and or pail
  • whey removal system
  • hot water kettle for pasta filata cheeses

Fresh Cheeses made from Pasteurized Milk

  • furnace or steam boiler
  • milk pump and hauling tank or milk cans
  • Stainless Steel piping and/or milk hose
  • Vat or tubs or basins
  • Vat pasteurizer or HTST system
  • Ice Bank or other Water Cooling system
  • Cream Separator
  • Drain Table
  • Hoops
  • Drain bags or Cheese cloth
  • Drain matting
  • curd  Stirrer
  • Curd Harps and or ladles
  • Curd Scoop and or pail
  • whey removal system
  • Filling/sealing machine or filling machine and hand sealer or vacuum sealer and hot water dip
  • hot water kettle for pasta filata cheeses and ricotta

Fluid and Cultured Milk Products

  • furnace or steam boiler
  • milk pump and hauling tank or milk cans
  • Stainless Steel piping and/or milk hose
  • Vat or HTST pasteurizer
  • Air Compressor if using HTST
  • Ice Bank or other water cooling system
  • Cream Separator
  • homogenizer
  • plate cooler
  • surge tank
  • batch tanks for flavors and standardizing
  • milk bottling machine and capper
  • Bottle Washer for glass bottles
  • Incubation chamber for cup-style yogurt
  • filling/sealing machine or hand sealer for cultured products

Ice Cream and Butter

  • furnace or steam boiler
  • milk pump and hauling tank or milk cans
  • Stainless Steel piping and/or milk hose
  • Vat or HTST pasteurizer
  • Air Compressor is using HTST
  • Cooling water system
  • Cream Separator
  • Homogenizer
  • Plate cooler
  • Batch tanks for aging , flavoring and standardizing
  • butter churn
  • ice cream freezer
  • Fruit Feeder
  • Filling Machine
  • Freezer for finished product

Part III: Other Resources

Approximate Steam Consumption .pdf

Equipment Definitions.pdf

Cheese Aging Caves.pdf