Author Topic: Alpine Cheese Dairy  (Read 2912 times)

Offline Alpkäserei

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Alpine Cheese Dairy
« on: October 08, 2012, 07:33:21 PM »
We are starting a small cheesery in central Indiana.

Our operation has a major focus on tradition. We are doing things in a much older fashion than anyone else that I am aware of in this country. We are focused on crafting our cheeses and other products by hand, and part of this means that our methods and equipment are far from modern.

Our cheese is produced in a 40 gallon copper vat, heated over a wood fire.
The cheese is inoculated with a traditional whey culture.
mixing and cutting is, for the most part, done entirely by hand. A machine mixer is only used during the final cooking stage as this allows a single cheesemaker to do everything -he can give all of his attention to the fire and the heating rate of the cheese.
The curd is drawn out by hand

Even the building is traditional -built using hand tools in the style of the Bernese Alps.

I personally traveled to Switzerland and learned about cheesemaking first hand.



 -we call our cheese 'Oberlander Käse' or just 'Oberlander' (named for the region from which the cheese comes) By law, we can't call it by it's local name, Berner Alkäse.-

Our cheese production will include a number of cheeses derived from the traditions of the Berner Oberland region of the Swiss Alps.

Oberlander, our principle cheese. A hard, full-fat,  raw milk cheese with a complex, spicy flavor. Long aged (up to 3 years)
Mutschli, a softer cheese (The Swiss call it halb-hart or half hard, but in this country it would be considered a hard cheese) with a milder flavor than the Oberlander, aged up to 6 months.
Raclette, a sweeter cheese with a mild flavor, perfect for melting. The Swiss melt their Raclette over bread and potatoes, it can also be used in cooking or eaten plain.
Ziger a cheese made from the whey, similar to ricotta.

In addition to our hand crafted alpine style cheeses, we also plan to offer cheesemaking courses, which will cover the different cheeses ranging from the relatively easy to make Mutschli to the difficult Oberlander.

Gehts Guet!
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2012, 06:42:54 AM »
Hi Alp,  Just saw this post.  Do you have a website with photos of your place?  it sounds so interesting and I'd love to see what it all looks like!

Offline H-K-J

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2012, 10:38:49 AM »
Yes where's the pix's ;D
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Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 04:16:08 PM »
Yes, enquiring minds want to see!!   ??? LOL

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 04:33:12 PM »
I had forgotten this post..

all I have right now are work in progress pictures. The building is under construction still, and likely very little will be done during this winter.

Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 04:45:23 PM »
I love construction photos so don't worry about boring me....    ;D

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2013, 02:51:21 PM »
OK, here are some pictures of construction progress.



The building is further along now, but I don't have yet any recent pictures.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 07:48:48 PM »
A bit of an Update,

construction is coming along, the walls are up. Now for a roof...

Here are a few pics as it stands right now:






Legal wise, things are coming into place to. We've more or less got the go ahead for copper and they seem to approve our methods and approaches. We have to work out a firebox system now that meets there standards, as I suspected, no open fires allowed.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Boofer

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2013, 08:05:31 AM »
Very impressive. How remote is this location? What provisions for water and power do you have? When do you target as the date to be up and running (making cheese)?

Sorry, more questions. ???  What do you plan for cellaring/aging? How many square feet or square meters is this building? Will your cheeses be made by a local herd of animals (owned by you)? If not, how will this dairy be supplied with milk? Is there a milking parlor nearby or will the milk be trucked in?

I'm very curious.

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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2013, 10:24:14 AM »
not as remote as you might think.
It's about 50 yards or so off the main house on our old farm -the house which is around 150 years old.
Water will come from the farm's existing well. I'll have to run a pipe and probably a softener unit just for the cheese house, but that's no big problem.
the local REMC will run electric to the building for free, they don't have far to go.

The aging room will be in the cellar of the farmhouse, which naturally maintains very close to the proper environment year round. There will need to be a little remodeling first to bring it up to code.

We'll have our own cows, about 8 to start so we can run a 40 g batch every day. Haven't built the parlor yet, but it will be a few feet off of the cheese house, with a concrete walkway to cut down on crud.

We aim to have facilities in working order by fall, maybe a few batches of cheeses late summer/fall then get things going around March or late February 2014, Lord willing.

I'm waiting on a phone call from the bank, financing will dictate how fast I can get things going. Those numbers are the farthest out targets, I want to get going as quick as I can.


The cheese house itself is fairly small. the make room is approx. 12x14, and there is a 8x14 room that will serve as a small shop space to sell some of our products. Above there will be a room that is the full 14x20, this will be office storage, and whatever else it needs to be.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2013, 06:36:14 PM »
I hope you buys cows from herds tested free if Johnne's Disease since once that is on your property you can't get it off and there is some concern it survives pasteurization and is at the root of the surge in intestinal problems in people.  It is endemic in the dairy industry and that's part of why cows don't get milked for 12 years anymore.  I am careful about bio-security for the reason of wanting to keep certain diseases off my land and out of my herd and food chain. 

Your building looks AMAZING!!!!!   :D  Very nice work.  Reminds me of a video of a Swedish man making a house using just 2 tools.  DO continue to keep us posted!   :)

Offline jwalker

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2013, 08:05:33 AM »
That is fantastic !!

That is about the size of operation I am looking to start next summer , except I will be sourcing out my milk from a local farm.

Are you cutting all your own timbers with a broadaxe , that's almost a lost art these days.

What kind of wood is that?

Can you keep the bare wood exposed inside or does it need to be covered with something deemed more sanitary?

Definitely keep us posted with updates and more photos as it progresses.

Cheers , Jim.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2013, 12:43:12 PM »
Inside will be insulated and paneled, make room paneling needs to be something smooth and paintable, I'll probably go with a good quality plywood with a durable exterior grade paint.

All is done by hand, yes it's lost out a lot in modern times, but more and more people are learning it.
Our tools are special, old tool I imported from Central Europe, not the same type of tools American pioneers would have been using.
The wood is all Eastern White Pine, except 1 maple beam, and roof beams are to be Elm. Rafters will be Southern Yellow Pine, floor planks fir and/or spruce.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Boofer

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2013, 01:52:05 PM »
A modern Log Cabin Alpine Cheese Dairy. :P

Again...WOW!

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Offline jwalker

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Re: Alpine Cheese Dairy
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2013, 12:35:21 PM »
I took some trees down on my property this spring and currently have 15 or 20 logs sitting in my yard.

Your photos inspired me to root out some of my grandfathers tools , two old broad axes and a peeling spud.

I am going to try hand hewing some beams out of them this weekend.

Keep up the good work and good luck with your new business.

Cheers , Jim.
No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.