Got milk? Well, the Bothwell cheese making facility certainly does.
In fact, on any given day they can have up to 140 to 145 thousand litres of Manitoba milk which is used to produce their multiple award winning cheeses.
"We've always made cheese the same traditional way that it has for centuries," said Bothwell president Ivan Balenovic. "Fresh milk comes in, we add the microbial enzymes to it, we let it start to coagulate and we go from start to finish in about six hours."
Sounds simple enough, but if you tour their cheese making plant you'll be staggered by the amount of technology at play.
Bothwell president Ivan Balenovich (Mike Green/CBC)
There are computerized vats and pipes leading every which way, while the whole plant is abuzz with the hum of machinery. But this is not to say that robots are making your cheese. Indeed, it is people like their master cheese maker Gil Dueck, who has been forming fromage for the past 26 years, monitoring every step.
"One of the things that differentiates us from other plants is that we have real, trained cheese makers on hand," said Balenovic. "When the cheese is setting up the computers are always asking questions of the cheese makers -- an acknowledgement to go to the next step, so the cheese makers will actually be going in with their knife; it becomes about feel, experience and intuition."
And how can the cheese making process change from day to day you ask? Well, because every batch of milk is different.
"Milk changes everyday -- it changes by season, it changes by farm, it changes by temperature. Like the cows obviously react when it is -40, like it is today, then they would when it is around 30 in the summertime," said Balenovic.
This in turn affects the pH levels of the milk and its protein and fat contents.
When I was at the plant approximately 10 thousand kilograms of cheddar cheese was being produced using about 115 thousand litres of milk.
But it is the smaller, hand-made batches of artisanal cheeses that have been putting Bothwell on the Canadian culinary map for the last decade.
"In 2002 when we took over the business and bought the assets from the co-op we knew the company had a really good base to build from -- a base of good loyal consumers and customers who appreciate our fresh cheddar and our fresh curd," said Balenovic.
"What we determined at that time is if we can develop some really unique products -- like our Black Truffle, or our Madagascar Green Peppercorn cheeses that no one had really done before -- that we would be able to introduce that into some really high-end delis throughout the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver markets."
These new flavoured cheeses, along with a dedicated staff of 60, have made Bothwell one of the big cheeses (yeah, bad pun) on Canada's current culinary scene.
But I'm still partial to their squeaky cheddar, because for this food writer the curd is still the word.