HOW FRESH CHEESE IS MADE
Every day, 7 days a week, dozens of employees come to work at the St. Albert factory to make your favorite cheese. Production of fresh cheese is a process that lasts between 5 and 7 hours, depending on the type of cheese (curds or blocks).
Yvan Wathier, our master cheesemaker, explains the major steps:
1- The milk is delivered to the factory
Every day, 5 to 7 tanker trucks filled with raw milk (80,000 litres of milk) shipped from Eastern Ontario dairy farms are delivered to the factory. The milk is stored for one or two days in sanitized silos until it is ready to be used. Every year, 28 million litres of milk get processed into delicious St-Albert cheeses.
2- The milk is pasteurized
Pasteurization destroys micro-organisms through a process that involves heating at 72.5 degrees Celsius and then cooling at 29.5 degrees Celsius. This process is called HTST (High Temperature Short Time).
Duration: 17 seconds
3- The milk is transferred and a bacterial culture is added
The pasteurized milk is then transferred into a vat, and a bacterial culture added and left to mature for 45 minutes.
Duration: 45 minutes.
4- Then comes the rennet
Rennet is an enzyme that gets the milk to coagulate. After 30 minutes, the milk turns into a gel, which is called curd.
Duration: 30 to 35 minutes.
5- Cutting the curd
The curd is cut while being stirred first in one direction, then in the opposite direction.
The curd is cooked in the vat by injecting hot water into the sides of the vat while the curd continues to be stirred.
Duration: 30 minutes
7- Extraction of the curd
The curd is extracted using a cheddarization table to first firm it up and to then increase its acidity to obtain the desired texture for the type of cheese.
Duration: 30 minutes
Packaging involves compressing all of the curd on each side of the table to remove the whey, a residual product that is 94% water. Out of a hypothetical volume of 100% milk, only 10% will become cheese.
This is the stage at which the cheese is cut into slices and overlapped. The slices then have to be turned and folded every 15 to 20 minutes.
Duration: 90 minutes.
Unsalted cheese slices are passed through the mill, where blades cut the cheese into small pieces, transforming it into cheese curds.
Duration: 30 minutes.
Then comes the time to add salt to the cheese. At this stage the cheese is stirred to incorporate the salt into the mass.
12- Milling and packaging of the 19kg
Some of the curd (the delicious fresh stuff) is taken directly to the bagging area for packaging into 200g, 400g and 2 kg packages, while another part is transferred to the compression towers for the time it takes to make blocks (of 19 kg)
Duration: 3 to 4 hours.
The blocks of cheese are cut into 300 g, 600 g, 1 kg, 2.5 kg and 4.5 kg formats, and packaged for distribution.
At 3 a.m., 7 days a week, the distribution trucks hit the road to deliver our fresh cheese of the day to more than 1000 points of sale across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Bon appétit!