Students Learn Cheese Making
 Firsthand at Granton Schools

During the past couple weeks; students in the agriculture education department at Granton High School had the opportunity to experience the art of cheese making. Members of the Feeding America class were able to learn the process of making cheese with the resource of a miniature cheese vat, as part of the CESA 10 agriculture instructor consortium.

The cheese vat is a portable system that is checked out from CESA each year to be used by the agriculture courses. Students begin the process with two gallons of whole milk and end up with a block of cheese that weighs anywhere from two to three pounds, depending on the processing precision and additives. The vat is a water basin that houses a stainless steel base, an agitator to stir the cheese, as well as a computer regulated temperature and pH sensors. The water is moved through a circulation heating system and that hot water then heats the milk.

Once the milk is heated to 30 degrees C, students add a starter enzyme to begin the process. About 45 minutes later, they add rennet to activate the coagulation process. They are very surprised how quickly the curd will form once the rennet is added.  After waiting for another 45 minutes, where the milk is not stirred, and it is covered, students get the opportunity to cut the cheese curds into cube shapes, using the stainless cutters provided with the mini vat.

Then it is another hour and 45 minutes of agitation and increased heat to help the cheese curds completely separate from the whey.  Once this happens, students begin the process of harvesting the curds from the vat. After they have all the curds, they add salt and any other flavorings or additives. This is where the experimentation process comes in to play. Students try to develop a flavor that is desirable to the consumer, which happens to be their classmates. This year they made 11 different batches as students worked in pairs. The class recipes included bacon-ranch cheese, chili cheese, fajita cheese, spicy-buffalo cheese, dill cheese and garlic salt and pepper cheese. They also tried farmer’s cheese, Jalapeño cheese, salami cheese and pizza cheese.

When they completed the cheese-making unit, several students who are FFA members then shared their knowledge with the fourth-grade students as they took the vat into their classroom to make another batch. The high school students taught the younger children the process and let them get right into the process as well.

In addition to making their own cheese variety, high school students are responsible for marketing their cheese product. They develop a magazine and radio advertisement for their cheese, to help them understand the role of marketing in dairy production. Besides cheese, students also made butter and ice cream.

Jess Tyler and Ezra Schier

Students (l-r) Jess Tyler and Ezra Schier cut up the block of cheese they made in class the day before. 
They made a salami cheese, which was one of the more popular choices among their classmates.


Fourth Grade Students

Fourth grade students look on as FFA members demonstrate the process of collecting the curds to put in the press. 
This educational lesson is one of many the FFA members present throughout the year to teach fourth-grade students the role of agriculture in food production.


Matt Schnabel and Lance Thomas

Matt Schnabel and Lance Thomas are being watched by their classmates as they begin to harvest the curds they made with their batch.
They made the dill cheese and had some of the best texture results in the class

Devry Andrews and Bobby Olson

Devry Andrews (l) and Bobby Olson are harvesting the last of their curds from the mini cheese vat. 
Clean-up each day was also a big part of their project.
They came in and out of the classroom several times during the process.


From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

March 21, 2012, Page 4

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon, September 22, 2013

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, September 23, 2013

Return to Grant Township Schools Web Page

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