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Hui Wang, CCUR pilot plant manager, (front) sets up the Alfa Laval stack disc centrifuge to test the feasibility of extracting high-value proteins from animal blood.

A judge uses a cheese trier to take a sample of Gouda.

New Showcase Celebrates Iowa Cheese and Yogurt Makers

The first Iowa Quality Dairy Products Showcase was held July 17 at Iowa State University in the Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) test kitchen and sensory labs. It was sponsored by Iowa State and the Midwest Dairy Association.

A sample is being poured in an NIRS machine.
Judges evaluate the appearance of a soft cheese before tasting.

Event organizer Stephanie Clark, associate professor of food science and human nutrition and CCUR affiliate, said the showcase celebrates Iowa yogurt and cheese makers and recognizes their high-quality products.

“The demand for local products is growing throughout the U.S. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and our Iowa dairy producers have great stories,” Clark said. “The Showcase was created to recognize Iowa producers and help make consumers aware of the high-quality products that are available in our state.”

Iowa is home to over 23 dairy processors, ranging from small-scale farmstead operations to artisan cheese makers to large-scale producers.

In this inaugural contest, 33 dairy products from nine different producers were entered in three categories: yogurt, soft cheese and hard cheese. All the products were made in Iowa. A panel of four experienced judges evaluated each entry based on technical and aesthetic quality in five areas: packaging appearance and condition, product appearance, aroma, flavor and body, and texture. Total scores determined whether a product earned a blue (80-90 points) or purple (90.5-100 points) ribbon. One product earned Best in Class for each category. Along with scores and ribbons, constructive feedback was also provided to producers for each entry.

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held Aug. 12 at the Iowa State Fair prior to the Iowa Dairy Princess Coronation. The award-winning cow milk yogurts and cheeses, along with ribbons and company profiles, were on display in the refrigerated case next to the butter cow display during the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 13-23.

Clark said that most of the cheeses in the Showcase can be purchased directly from the producers and some can also be found at Wheatsfield Cooperative and Hy-Vee.

There are plans to make the Iowa Quality Dairy Products Showcase an annual event. Due to the success of this inaugural event, Clark expects more companies will enter the contest next year.

“Some companies wanted to enter more products,” she said “but we limited them to four per class this year; so, we will likely increase the per-class limit next year.”

The list of winners can be found on the Midwest Dairy Association’s web site.

For more information contact Clark at milkmade@iastate.edu or (515) 294-7346.

CCUR purchased two new pieces of equipment: a continuous Centri-Sifter (left) and an explosion-proof basket centrifuge.
Iowa producers display ribbons and Best in Class certificates for award-winning dairy products (left clockwise) representing Frisian Farms Cheese, Yellow River Dairy, Country View Dairy, WW Homestead, Swiss Valley Farms, Picket Fence Creamery, Reichert’s Dairy Air and Honey Creek Creamery. Photo courtesy of Mariah Schmitt, Midwest Dairy Association.