Invensys APV's re-developed Curdmaster cheese tank is now said to allow cheese manufacturers to reduce cheese fines in whey by up to 35 per cent, creating a major boost for productivity.
Currently one of the most important issues in cheese making is the reduction of fat and cheese fines in whey. Whilst many modern cheese plants recover the lost fat and fines, it is more beneficial to achieve the highest possible yield of fat and protein during the process to optimise production costs.
For some 10 years, APV has continued to develop and fine-tune the "double-O" Curdmaster cheese tank design to continuously improve its performance. Most recently the agitators were redesigned.
"Our development programme has proven that the way the knives and shovels are assembled is critical to the performance of the CurdMaster," a spokesperson for Invensys APV said. "After initial tests, the number of knives as well as the length of each knife were adjusted. The knives were then moved to another position on the frame, which was also redesigned to support the new agitator design and make the CurdMaster more flexible for the production of different cheese types, including cheeses made from milk with a high protein content. These modifications resulted in more uniform-sized cheese curds, the size of which could be adjusted, depending on the type of cheese."
Finally, a clear knife cut of the curd was achieved, which was said to significantly reduce the cheese fines and the fat in the whey.
To support the improvement two shovels were installed on each stirring frame (standard on the larger size + 25,000 l CurdMaster). The size and shape of the shovels were also modified to optimise the agitation function, resulting in improved lifting and buoyancy of the curd in the whey. At the same time, it proved possible to reduce the speed of the agitator, minimising the mechanical impact on the cheese curd, the manufacturer claims.
The new agitator design has been successfully tested by 3 manufacturers of different types of cheeses, ranging from semi-hard Danish cheese types to Cheddar and other types of hard cheeses.
According to APV, one of these manufacturers has since ordered two new cheese tanks and the rebuild of three existing tanks, since the test and commercial runs showed a reduction of the amount of fat and cheese fines in the whey of up to 35 per cent.
Existing CurdMasters can easily be retrofitted with the new agitator to deliver the same benefits as a new CurdMaster, the manufacturer claims.
However, the company also warns that the new agitator design may influence the syneresis (expulsion of whey from the cheese curd) during the cheese making process in the cheese tank. As a consequence a change of the recipe might be necessary.
APV's cheese technologists can easily adjust an existing recipe to ensure that the composition of the final cheese is either similar to any cheese currently being produced, or even closer to the required specification.