We recently had a chance to visit Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wis. The company makes a variety of cheeses, but that morning, it was fresh mozzarella. We took a peek into the final steps of the process. The Crave Brothers – four actual brothers whose last name is, in fact, Crave – specialize in mascarpone, fresh mozzarella, Farmer's Rope part-skim mozzarella, and Les Frères (French for "the brothers"), a washed-rind aged cheese. As a farmstead operation, Crave Brothers has a herd of 950 cows on site where they also grow corn, alfalfa and soybeans for feed.
In 2007, Crave Brothers installed its first anaerobic (oxygen-free) digester, which processes manure into energy. With the recently added second digester, the company says it now generates enough energy to power the entire operation, as well as 300 area homes.
But back to that fresh mozzarella. We watched the cheese go from curds and whey to ready-to-eat balls of mozzarella in matter of minutes. Talk about instant gratification!
• 1 In the background, the fresh mozzarella curds are separated from the whey in a large vat. George Crave shows the state of the cheese before it is kneaded into a uniform consistency.
• 2 The kneaded cheese before it is formed into shapes.
• 3 The form used to shape the mozzarella into bite-size bocconcini balls.
• 4 The cheese as it comes through the form. It's then cooled in a cold brine and packaged.
• 5 Other forms used to make medallions, logs and ciliegine.