Our milk is first thermized (for 20 seconds at 68 degrees Celsius) before it flows into a tub (with a capacity of 2000 liters). When it´s almost full, we add a culture. When the tub is full, the rennet is stirred into the milk to thicken it. After 45 minutes, the whole tub of milk has tickened up. Using long knives, the thick substance is cut into strips first and then into pieces. These pieces are then called “curds”. Once the curds are fine enough, we are left with two components: curds and whey.
We ultimately use the curds to make cheese. The whey is a byproduct, which is rich in lactose (milk sugar). We don’t want this amount of lactose in our cheese as it would make our cheese too acidic. Therefore, we drain off a portion of the whey and add hot water to the remainding substance and let it stir for 20 minutes. This process releases more lactose from the curds into the whey. For the second time we tap off a portion of it and then add hot water once again, letting it stir for another 20 minutes. Fun fact: the whey is fed to the calves on farm as it contains not only lactose but also a fair amount of protein and fats!