Located five miles southeast of Fremont, Wisconsin, on County Rd. II, Union Star Cheese Factory offers tours every morning except Sundays. Come in, watch us make cheese, then taste it. Our cheese is made daily, except Sundays, and our fresh curds are ready to eat between 9 am to 10 am.
We pick up fresh milk every day at local dairy farms. It's stored overnight here in our refrigerated tanks.
We start the cheesemaking process at 4am with the pasteurizing process. We heat the milk to 160°F for 17 seconds to kill harmful bacteria.
The pasteurized milk then goes into the cheese vat where we add the "good bacteria" that convert the sugar in the milk into lactic acid. We also add an enzyme called "rennet" to form a soft gel. By 6AM, the milk in the vat has changed into a yogurt-like consistency.
We "cut" the gel into quarter-inch cubes that will become "curds." We then cook at 88° to 102°F, carefully stirring to help separate the curds from the whey. This is where craftsmanship becomes more critical. Too much stirring will yield a very dry cheese.
For cheddar cheese, we stop the process here, drain the whey, and cut the settled curd into blocks. We turn and restack these fragile blocks every five minutes. The resulting cheese slab ends up being 1 inch thick, three feet long, and twelve inches wide. We then cut the slabs up into 1" x 2" chunks called curds while adding salt. Salt provides flavor and stops the "good bacteria" from making more acid that would make the finished cheese taste bitter.
Forming the Blocks
The cheese curds are then pressed into a block. After two hours, the block can be taken out of the form, packaged, and put into our cooler for aging. Each type of cheese we make has it own level of moisture.
Pictures may be worth a thousand words. But seeing the cheesemaking process in person is priceless! We invite you to visit our factory, take a tour, and taste some of the finest cheeses anywhere!