Saturday, February 26, 2011

Canned Bega Cheese

An unusual souvenir I picked up at the Bega Cheese Factory was a can of Bega Processed Cheese. The 113g tin of cheddar style cheese was $1.20 in the visitors centre. This is exported around the world (the label is in English and Arabic) has an official shelf life of two years. Larger 200g cans are sold individually and in cases on The case seller claims a shelf life of more than 15 years, with it being "idea for outdoorsmen, survivalists and campers".

The cheese factory visitors centre is worth a visit, if you are in the area. The process of making the cheese is traditional, with milk, lactic acid bacteria, rennet, and salt used. The same cheddar style cheese is used for the various styles, with different aging and then later processing.

The high tech part of the process then starts, with large blocks of cheese wrapped by a machine, stacked by a robot and moved to the maturing store by an automated truck. Blocks are cut for traditional cheddar style cheese, with different lengths of maturation. Cutting cheese can be difficult at high speed so ultrasonic cutters are used. The less mature cheese is processed into sticks and slices. Even more high tech is the whey powder plant, which converts the by-product into power for export.

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