Take a tour of P.E.I.'s largest cheese factory
More than 300K of Island milk moves through ADL's Summerside facility daily
Darcy Carr has seen a lot of cheese over the past 39 years working with Amalgamated Dairies Limited in Summerside — in fact millions and millions of kilograms.
Carr is responsible for ensuring quality and cleanliness at the plant from the moment the milk trucks arrive to the moment the packaged cheese is shipped.
Before our tour even begins, Carr tells me to suit up with plastic gloves, a white lab coat and hair net.
ADL operates 24 hours a day and produces 8 million kilograms of cheese every year.
It's is one of the last dairy co-operatives in the country. The Island farmers who supply the milk also own the plant.
Every morning, close to a dozen stainless steel trucks haul in more than 300,000 litres from dairy farms across P.E.I., but you never see a drop of it in the plant. It's pumped directly into holding tanks, and then pasteurized.
It's then pumped into huge vats, where the whey is stirred off. This is one area I can't enter.
"We don't want any contamination," said Carr. "We've got to be very careful because the cheese is being made there."
The product is checked at every step along the process. ADL drivers collect milk samples from every farm they visit.
"All the cheese that's made, right from the times it's made in the vat, there's samples go up to our lab," said Carr.
"They check it for microbes to make sure everything is good and clean."
Lots of varieties
ADL makes a variety of cheeses — cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack and Parmesan.
The cheese is then transferred to towers to form huge blocks of cheese.
Aging takes time
Then it's off to the coolers to be aged, where the cheese will sit for months — or even years.
"If it's mild cheese, it's about three months," said Carr.
"Medium cheese is around five months, and then you've got old cheese, 12 months."
"And then we have two-year-old and three-year-old that stays in the cooler"
Carr prefers those that have sat around for a while.
"Old aged cheese. I like the flavour. It's stronger," he said.
"It just gets stronger as you let it age so after two or three years it's pretty strong."
The cheese is shipped around Canada and around the world.
The cheddars are the biggest sellers, for good reason. They taken home some significant hardware from international cheese competitions, such as the British Empire Cheese Show.
"We've won cheddar, we've won old cheddar, we've won extra-old cheddar, we've won some marble-medium and mild," said Carr.
"We've won in pretty well everything we make, at one time or another."
After 39 years of making cheese, you might think Carr has had enough, but he's going to see even more as ADL expands this year.
The 12 million dollar expansion will be used to increase cheese curing and storage, as well as to modernize production.
So how much longer does Carr plan to cut the cheese?
"I don't know. Until I'm finished."
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