How many different products can you name that are made from milk? Quite a few, right? But none of those dairy products would be as widely available as they are without industrial dairy equipment. Dairy plants use various pieces of equipment to process raw milk into various products including cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and others. In the United States, the beginning steps in many dairy processes are pasteurizing, homogenizing and/or separating. Pasteurization is a process required in many countries, including the United States. It requires heating milk to a high temperature and then quickly cooling it. This is done in order to slow spoilage caused by the growth of microbes like bacteria, which makes the milk safer and last longer. In the homogenization process, the fat globules in milk are broken down so that they are a smaller, more uniform size that will remain suspended in the liquid better. The third common process, separation, separates milk into skim milk and cream. The cream is used to create a myriad of other dairy products. On the other hand, skim milk is often sold and drunk as is or can have a small amount of fat returned to it to create low-fat milk (e.g. 1% and 2%).
The separated cream can be churned until the fat globules coagulate and form a semi-solid mass. The result is butter, which is then washed and can be salted in order to increase the life of the product. A residual liquid called buttermilk can be used to process additional products.
In countries that do not require pasteurization, there is a much wider variety of cheeses available because the cheese making process can take advantage of the bacteria found naturally in milk. The range of cheeses available in countries that do require pasteurization is smaller, and the use of artificial cheese curing is much more common. Cheeses come in a wide variety of textures, flavors and forms. The exact processes vary by cheese type, but to create many cheeses, milk is acidified and enzymes are added to coagulate the milk protein casein. After coagulation occurs, the solids are separated from the liquids and are pressed into a final form.
Yogurt is actually made in a process similar to that of cheese making. However, the process is stopped before the curd becomes very hard. Often fruit or other flavors are also added.
This frozen sweet treat is typically made from milk and cream with some type of sweetener, like sugar, added. Fruit, flavoring and/or other ingredients are often added as well. Despite a plethora of available flavors, the most popular flavors of ice cream in North America are still vanilla and chocolate. Other similar products include frozen custard, frozen yogurt and gelato.
Other Dairy Products
Those listed above represent just a few of the dairy products that are made using industrial dairy equipment. An all-encompassing list would be nearly impossible to compile. Just a few of the other products include evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, whey and milk powders. The milk protein casein can even be used to create plastics, adhesives and fabrics. Dairies and dairy plants play a big role in the processes utilized to create many wonderful products. The next time you enjoy a dairy product, maybe you’ll spare a moment to appreciate the processes and equipment needed to provide it to you. If you’re interested in learning more about dairy equipment or other types of processing equipment, contact us today.