At Price Chopper and Market 32, we know one thing – making sure we have the best quality foods in our own brands brings value and enjoyment to our customers and communities. In business over 80 years, we also know that working with our local agricultural producers is a great way to deliver on that promise, and our PICS long process, naturally aged, award winning cheddar is a great example.
Did you know – the most popular cheese in America is cheddar? This spring, with friends from the American Dairy Association Northeast, I visited the cheese makers that create this wonderful cheese, and saw firsthand how hard they work to make it. We partner with Great Lakes Cheese Company, located in Adams, NY, in the heart of New York dairy country. They have been here over 40 years, and are committed to the New York North Country, so much so that they doubled production capacity in 2009. Experts that have crafted their process over time, they make several types here – mild, sharp, and extra sharp New York cheddar cheese to name a few. They also process the whey portion as part of sustainability efforts and for new product ingredient markets.
John Jennings, Plant Manager for over 40 years, and Nathan Pistner, Assistant Plant Manager, were proud to show us the inner workings of this modern facility, and most proud of their 122 employees. There is a lot of workmanship in this cheese – over 300 years of combined expertise on first shift alone!
By the numbers, they receive 2,500,000 pounds of high quality milk from local dairy farms like Murcrest Farms per day, which becomes over 87 million pounds of cheese per year. (Cheese heaven?!) The farms they work with must meet high standards for cow care. Like the farms, this is a 24- hour, 365 days per year operation – cows don’t take any days off. They use natural ingredients, and move the cheese through the process using air, to protect the curd integrity and texture. These steps ensure a premium, reliable, delicious cheese on your table every time!
The tour showed us all of the work and time that goes into making this cheddar – there are quality tests built into every step, and they continue throughout the entire year of aging. Once they have the cheese in production, and process the whey, they turn the remaining liquid back into clean water that helps keep the plant clean – another sustainability process they are very committed to. Tradition and technology are part of making sure they are serving their own communities and partners well.
You will be sure to enjoy these wonderful cheddars, as a great snack, or as part of a new recipe – check out the links below for some delicious ideas!
– this would be a great stuffed burger, too!
Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist