Thursday, November 28, 2013

What is a Swiss Cheese Kettle?

Swiss-cheese kettle.
Swiss Cheese Kettle
Swiss cheese cannot be made in a vat like other types. In place of the vat is used a kettle, generally of copper, and it may or may not be jacketed for steam or for hot water.

These kettles vary in capacity from 600 to 3000 pounds of milk.

The cheese-maker takes the best care possible of his kettle, for an unclean utensil is one of the easiest sources of contamination of the milk. When the kettle is not jacketed, and it is only in recent years that this has been done, it is suspended in a fireplace by means of a crane arrangement.

This fireplace uses wood, and is built of brick or stone, so that the kettle rests on the edge and is provided with a door which swings upon another crane, and can be closed while the fire is going. When the kettle is swung on a crane, it is possible to swing it under the weigh-stand for filling. This requires a lid to swing down over the fire, and keep the room free from smoke. The chimney generally has a rather high stack to secure a good draft. This kettle is fastened to the crane by a large iron band passing around the neck, to which a bail or handle is attached. The kettle may be raised or lowered by means of a simple screw on this beam. The crane consists of a heavy beam working in sockets in the floor and a beam or cross brace, which has another and shorter beam braced to it, to take the weight of the kettle.

The weigh-stand, and its efficient location, is a matter of extreme importance. It is elevated a little above the remainder of the floor to allow gravity to do the work. The next most important equipment is the press and draining table. The table is made of wood or stone, and has a slight slope to allow the whey to drain off. The press is generally a jack screw which, braced against a beam, will exert an enormous pressure on the table below.

Swiss cheeses are made in two styles, the "round" or drum and the "block" or rectangular forms, each of which has its advantages. For the round style, which is most commonly made, the forms for hooping are of metal or of elm wood, and consist of strips of a given width, generally six inches, but of an undetermined length. These strips are then made into a circle and held by a cord, which is easily lengthened or shortened, thus varying the diameter of the hoop.

Besides these hoops, cheese boards or followers are needed. These are heavy circular boards, of a size to fit that of the cheese generally made, and are banded with iron around the edge and cross-braced on the bottom for rigidity. The small tools of the factory consist of knives to cut the curd, and of a "Swiss harp" or other similar tool to stir the curd. Many clean bandages are also needed, and a kettle brake.