Ballard Cheesemaking Process
Cut Coagulated Milk into Curds and Whey Using a Harp
When it is to the right consistency, we cut the coagulated milk into quarter-inch cubes with a wire knife known as a Harp. This is when the curds separate out from the watery whey.
Stirring and Cooking the Curds
After we cut the coagulated milk, the curd is floating in the whey. We stir and slowly cook the curd and whey and check the pH /TA level frequently so we know what the curds are doing.
Draining The Whey
After about an hour, we drain the whey off the curds into a bulk tank so we can feed it to the cows. This goes down the middle and out the drain.
Milling the Curds
When the pH level is just right we mill the slabs into milled curds. Then we stir and salt the curds.
Stirring The Curds
The salt stops further acid development, provides an element of flavor, and helps preserve the final cheese. Salting also provokes a further small rush of whey. The curds can now be packaged and sold.
Ballard's Idaho Cheddar and Cheese Curds
Another option is to put the curds into a form called a "loop." The curds are then pressed overnight in a hydraulic press. This removes the last of the whey and forms a solid 20 pound round of cheddar cheese.
In the morning the curds are packaged and shipped out stores. Finally, the curds are vacuum packed and sealed for aging.