Local foods, Product info, Today on the Farm, Uncategorized

HOW IT’S MADE: Say cheese curd!

Cheese curds are typically made twice weekly at Hansen’s Dairy.

It’s June Dairy Month, and here at Hansen’s Dairy, we are celebrating all of our fresh dairy products! Each week in June we will post a new segment in our “How It’s Made” series. The first product we are featuring is our squeaky, delicious cheese curds.

Check out the video below for actual footage of the creamery cheese curd process.

Curds are a popular product made here at Hansen’s Dairy. Cheese curds are just the first step in the process of making aged cheese. People rave about eating curds on the day they are made, even when they are still a little warm. The mark of a fresh cheese curd is when it squeaks in your mouth!

Hansen’s Dairy makes six different flavors of mild white cheddar cheese curds, including spicy red pepper.

Hansen’s Dairy makes several flavors of mild white cheddar cheese curds, including plain, spicy red pepper, dill, bacon, buffalo and ranch.

Creamery manager Brad Hansen stirs the milk/culture mix.

To start the cheesemaking process, 300 gallons of whole milk are added to the cheese curd vat and heated to 90 degrees. When the tank is full, the culture is added, which gives the cheese the mild cheddar flavor.

Hansen’s curds are white because no dye is used to color them yellow.

Later, vegetable rennet is added to thicken the mixture and begin the separation process. Soon curds and whey will begin to form, and the cheese is raked to a mixture resembling cottage cheese.

At this stage, the mixture resembles cottage cheese.

After more agitating and heating, the curds become more solid. The curds are pushed and pressed to drain out as much whey as possible.

The whey is pressed and drained from the curd.

The cheese is then cut and formed into large slabs. The slabs are repeatedly cut and stacked on top of each other to squeeze additional whey out of the curds below.  This process is called cheddaring.

The process of cutting and stacking the cheese in slabs to drain out additional whey is called cheddaring.

The slabs go through a mill to be cut into chunks. Salt is added and mixed thoroughly. Finally, the curds are ready to be packaged.


Cheese curds are typically made twice weekly in our on-farm creamery, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Fresh curds can be kept at room temperature for a few hours (although food inspectors might disagree). The squeak can be revived in refrigerated curds by heating on a microwave-safe plate for 10-15 seconds. Curds can be frozen in a deep freezer.

Hansen’s curds are available in 12-ounce bags and 4-pound bags. Many restaurants serve up our cheese curds as appetizers, including Doughy Joey’s, Pump Haus, Gilmore’s Pub, Table 1912 and La Calle in Cedar Falls; Highway 63 Diner, Locals Bar & Grill, SingleSpeed and Newton’s Paradise Cafe in Waterloo; East Bremer Diner in Waverly; Finley’s Curbside Bistro in Ames; Ice Cream Junction in Oelwein; and Todd’s Neighborhood Grill in Parkersburg.

Hope you enjoyed learning about our cheese curds … next week we will show you how the milk is made!


“Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, farm as if you’ll live forever” Sustainability at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy

Dairy farmers work diligently to uphold their legacy as good environmental stewards, and the Hansens are no different. Taking care of the land makes healthy cows, and healthy cows produce high quality milk. Most importantly, sustainability makes the world healthier for future generations. Here at Hansen’s Dairy, we implement many sustainability practices to help keep the planet healthy.

1) Water – The Hansens are very conscious of how they use water. When the cows are milked, milk comes out of the udder at 101°. A cooling system uses water to chill the milk to about 60°. This process helps keep the milk fresh from the farm to your refrigerator. That water is then recycled and given to the cows to drink.

2) Manure/Fertilizer – For every 1,000 pounds a dairy cow weighs, she’ll produce about 80 lbs. of manure each day. With 300 Holstein cows on the farm, that adds up quickly. Manure is cleaned out of the barns twice a day and pushed down a pipe that runs to a manure pit behind the barn. This pit holds 1 million gallons of manure. The manure is emptied from the pit twice a year, recycled and used on crops that are grown as feed for the cows, bringing its use full-circle.  The Hansen’s high-tech equipment injects the manure directly into the soil, minimizing the odor, runoff and atmospheric losses while adding rich nutrients to the soil and replenishing its fertility.


3) Crop Rotation – The Hansens implement crop rotation to help replenish nitrogen in the soil. Crop rotation is also an important part of insect and disease control. Because many insects prefer to eat specific crops, continuous growth of the same crop gives them a steady food supply, and the insects’ population increases. To avoid this, the Hansens plant a field with alfalfa hay for four years and then corn for the next two years.

4) Conservation – The Hansens till their fields minimally and use contour and waterway systems to minimize topsoil erosion. When fields are frequently tilled, the topsoil becomes light and loose and can blow away in the wind. Contour farming minimizes erosion by planting crops around a hill, following its elevation contour lines, rather than planting in rows straight up the hill. These rows slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to settle into the soil. Waterways provide paths for rainwater runoff to escape the field without taking precious topsoil with it.

5) Corn Usage – When the Hansens make silage for their cows to eat, they chop up the entire corn plant: stalk, leaves, corn, cob and all. This ensures none of the corn plant goes to waste. When the Hansens do harvest just the corn kernels, the rest of the plant is chopped up to make cornstalk bedding for the cows.


The crops the Hansens take from the land to make feed for their cattle returns to the land as fertilizer in the form of manure. Being good land stewards, the Hansens try to make sure everything taken from the land is replenished.

Farm animals, Uncategorized

Twins – Twice the Fun!

Twins are very unusual in cattle, and if you’ve taken a tour of Hansen’s Dairy, you know that of the 200 calvings each year at Hansen’s, about five sets of twins will be born. Female twins born at Hansen’s will get matching names. For example, names of the female sets of twins on the farm have included Flip and Flop, French and Fry, Shoe and String, and Lois and Lane.


But when a heifer and bull are twins, that heifer may be sold and raised for beef production instead of becoming a milking cow at Hansen’s Dairy. This is because 90% of the time that heifer will be sterile (unable to get pregnant). If she can’t get pregnant, she won’t be able to have a baby and produce milk.

When we tour guides tell our guests about this phenomenon, they often ask what causes this. After a little research, I found that these sterile heifers are called freemartins and that the heifer’s sterility is caused by blood vessels becoming interconnected between the heifer and bull. The blood then flows from one twin to the other, and male hormones like testosterone circulate and interfere with the heifer’s sexual development. The male hormones then masculinize the female twin, and the result is a sterile female.

Listed below are several interesting facts about freemartins.

· For the most part, the male twin is largely unaffected by sharing blood with his sister.

· Freemartins will have masculinized behavior and non-functioning ovaries.

· These heifers will behave and grow in a fashion similar to castrated male cattle (steers).

· It is very difficult to determine by palpation if the heifer will be fertile until she is about 6 months old.

· At any age, a simple blood test can be done to detect the presence of male Y-chromosomes in the white blood cells of the heifer to determine if she is sterile or not.

· In about 10 percent of different sex twins, no fusion of blood vessels takes place and the female remains fertile.


· In fraternal twins, it’s possible to have two Holsteins with different colors. The photo shown is a Black & White Holstein with a Red carrier gene. She was bred to a Red & White bull and had a Black & White/Red & White twins.

· Freemartinism is the normal outcome of mixed-sex twins in all cattle species and also occurs in sheep, goats and pigs.


November 24 is Small Business Saturday

Yes, we all know about Black Friday, the annual “holiday” where we stand in crushing lines at big box stores to get incredible deals on gifts for our loved ones. And then there’s Cyber Monday, the day everyone does holiday shopping online.

But have you heard of Small Business Saturday? It’s a much more relaxed day to celebrate small businesses in our communities. You get to shop at and support local businesses and probably get some pretty sweet deals in the process.

The day was first celebrated in 2010 as a way to encourage holiday shopping in local, brick and mortar stores. As a local, brick and mortar retailer in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, we support Small Business Saturday and hope you will, too!

To say THANKS for shopping local that day, all customers are welcome to enter to win one of two $50 cheese baskets! One customer will be chosen from each of our two retail stores. Just add your name and contact info to the sign-up sheets on the counter. You don’t need to be present to win!

Here’s a link to the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.


Farm Jokes!

Good morning!

What better way to start the day than with some incredibly corny farm and cow jokes…

Do YOU know any good ones? Leave them in the comments!

What do you call a cow that’s just had a baby?


Why does a milking stool only have three legs?

The cow’s got the udder

What are the spots on black and white cows?


What is every cow’s favorite movie?

The sound of MOO-sic

What do you call a cow that can’t give milk?

A milk dud

A farmer was milking a cow one day when he noticed a fly go in the cows ear. After he was done with the milking, he saw the same fly in the milk. “That’s funny,” he said. “That fly went in one ear and out the udder!”


Blog Roundup – Back to School Edition

School has started – woo hoo!! My daughter started sixth grade last week. One of her summary thoughts about the week?

“I think I’m going to be bringing cold lunch practically every day.”

This is NOT a post about advantages/disadvantages of school lunch. It’s a quick post about blogs and websites with lunchtime tips. For my kids, I always struggle with making their lunches varied but still healthy and edible (from their perspective). While I think leftover sesame peanut noodles with tofu sounds amazing, they would rather eat a plain bagel. JUST a plain bagel.

There are several items for sale in the Cedar Falls Outlet and Waterloo Moo Roo that make perfect additions to a packed lunch, or a great snack on their own. A few examples:

  • Individually packaged Baker string cheese
  • Single-serving yogurts from Country View Dairy (regular and Greek!)
  • Organic blue or yellow corn chips from the Whole Grain Milling Company and Kramer’s salsa – just put 1/2 cup of salsa in a small container and some chips into a baggie
  • Any of the firm cheeses we sell would be delicious in a lunch when cut into cubes and packed with fruit
  • The quarter hams from Beeler’s can be kept in the fridge and sliced fresh in the morning for ham (and cheese!) sandwiches

FANTASTIC article from the Cedar Rapids Examiner about packing healthy lunches.

This list of tips for packing school lunch from SheKnows is a few years old, but still very relevant.

The blog Weelicious has loads of family-friendly and kid-friendly recipe ideas, plus lunchtime ideas.

The blog Never Seconds is written by a student in the UK, and she invites guest students from other countries to post about their school lunches as well.

There are some really fun ideas for bento box school lunches at the blog Another Lunch.

Do you ever wonder about what kids are eating at school? Loads of information can be found on the National School Lunch Program website, and at the Iowa Department of Education site.

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who lived in states with consistent laws about what’s available in vending machines and for snacks gained less weight than kids who lived in states with no laws. Pretty interesting stuff, and a summary can be found on the CBSNews site.

Written by Disa Cornish


Buttery Goodness [winner announced]

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on the post! Our randomly selected winner is…

Angie Longhorn: “When it is super hot outside we all like to go hang out in the pool and eat ice cream. And yes we do them both at the same time!”

Congrats Angie! Please email us at info@hansendairy.com and let us know which store (Waterloo Moo Roo or Cedar Falls Outlet) you’ll visit to pick up the butter bell.

Have a great weekend everyone!