The Creamery

From farm to creamery by milktanker

The milk is pumped from the cooling tank on the farm into a milk tanker. At the same time a sample of the milk is taken in order to check on its quality. Twenty or thirty ton milk tankers drive along the narrow country lanes to the creamery. There the river of milk, annualy arround eleven billion litres, is channeled in to two directories.

< Butter pouring from the churn

Part of the milk has the fat removed by a cream separator. The cream is used to make butter and cream. The residue, low fat milk, is used to make products such as yoghurt, buttermilk or low fat milk.

The fat is not removed from the second stream of milk as this is used for full-fat products, including full-fat milk, cheese, condensed milk and milk powder. Semi-skimmed milk is produced by combining low-fat milk with some of the full-fat milk.

About a century ago the first cream separator was put into production, to skim the milk mechanically. In much the same way as a spin-dryer removes the water from your washing, the cream seperator spins the milk until the cream is removed. Prior to mechanisation the cream was removed after the milk had been left to stand in cool cellars, allowing the fat to rise to the surface. The milk fat which is removed forms the basic of butter. After the mechanisation of butter production it was no longer before cheese was also made in creameries, followed by products such as dairy ice-cream, milk powder, butter oil and condensed milk.

Nowadays the creameries produce a whole range of products. Yogurt and buttermilk have been around for a long time, but now desserts, milk-based drinks and cottage cheese have become very popular.

There are 110 Creameries in The Netherlands who process milk. Most specialise in fresh milk, milk-based products, milkpowder, or condensed milk. However, there are more specialized products being produced from whey, such as proteins and lactose. Hygiene and quality control of both the milk and dairy products also play an important role.

Nearly half the milk produced in the Netherlands is used to make cheese. The milk is coagulated to form curs. The remaining liquid, whey, contains amongst other things, milk sugars and proteins. Years ago the whey was fed to pigs but some time ago it was discovered that much more could be done with it. Creameries now make whey based drinks and the proteins derived from whey are added to any other food products.

In modern creameries none of the milk is wasted. Walking into such a creamery is like taking a step in to the twenty-first century, with stainless steal vats, pipes ans large control panels from which the complete production process is monitored. In fact there is only one thing to remind you of the old-fashioned dairy, with its wooden vats, brass, ladles and spoons; the typical 'dairy' aroma. Thanks to this aroma we are reminded that in spite of the advances of technology and computers, milk and its by-products remain a traditional food.