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Farm-Sized Cheese-Making Equipment
Kusel Equipment is putting its 160 years of experience making professional grade cheese-making equipment to work for on-farm cheese makers with a new line of small scale cheese-making vats, presses and molds.
"We've covered all aspects of the cheese industry from large to extra-large, but in recent years we've seen a significant growth and interest in farmstead operations," says Jim Szollar, vice president of marketing, Kusel. "We've also seen that these people have trouble finding the right sized equipment to meet industry standards."
The small-scale equipment is made in Wisconsin with the same high quality stainless steel and other components used for large-scale plants. It is simply downsized and, where possible, simplified to match customer needs.
"We're trying to supply everything needed so they don't have to go to a local metal shop and try to fabricate something that may not meet standards," says Szollar.
Szollar points to the 50 to 100-gal. cheese vats the company offers as an example. The artisan vats are built to the same specifications with the same hot water heating and controls as a 5,000-gal. vat, but lack the automated agitators.
"Manual stirring is not a problem for a small cheese maker, and it keeps the cost of a 50-gal. vat under $10,000," says Szollar. "The press is air-powered with a 2 to 3 hp compressor that sells for $2,500, while cheese molds can sell for anywhere from $20 to $300, depending on what the customer wants."
A pasteurizer is the most expensive item, running up to $25,000. Szollar says the cost is related to the automatic data capture equipment that is needed to satisfy state inspectors. He notes that temperature, timing and agitation information all has to be tracked. Even the air space between the unit cover and the milk has to be recorded.
Szollar strongly recommends that anyone thinking of making cheese for market contact the state dairy or sanitary inspector first. He also suggests taking part in university or industry sponsored seminars.
"If you're thinking about getting into cheese making, a little research is money well spent," says Szollar. "Making cheese gives dairymen a chance to do more than just accept the price they get for milk."
Szollar points to the many successful farmstead cheese operations now in business. "People who are really into artisan cheese are very passionate about it," he says. "I think it's like the California wine industry was 50 years ago. It just needed people to sell the product, and that's what we have today with cheese."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kusel Equipment Co., P.O. Box 87, 820 West St., Watertown, Wis. 53094 (ph 920 261-4112; sales@kuselequipment.com; www.kuselequipment.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #6