1936 - Present Day
A Brief History
The Bothwell Cheese co-operative was formed by Frank Giesbrecht and Bernhard Dueck who galvanized support and labour from local volunteers eager to help build the town's first cheese factory. In June 1936 the plant began operations with Corny Unger as the first Master Cheesemaker. In those early years farmers hauled the raw milk themselves in milk cans to the factory that was then made into cheese. Pasteurization didn't begin in Manitoba until 1954. Around that time, farmers made about 1/2 a cent for each pound of milk they sold. Bothwell sold the cheese for about 30 cents a pound.
In those days, local children would visit the plant and fill paper bags with cheese curds to take home. Today, only the employees are allowed near the production process but visitors can come to our cheese shop and buy curds, that are often still warm.
75 years later, Bothwell Cheese continues to forge strong ties with Manitoba's dairy farming community. We purchase all of our milk from our farming neighbors to ensure that quality and fresh taste remain the trademarks of our cheese.
After decades of winning awards, keeping Bothwell Cheese a Manitoba secret has simply become impossible! We now distribute our cheese nationwide and have modernized our plant to constantly improve our production processes. But we remain dedicated to a rich heritage of artisan craftsmanship that has been passed down through the generations.
Bothwell Cheese now produces nearly 25 different styles and varieties of cheeses yet each selection is hand made and aged, one block of cheese at a time.
Taste the Quality. Taste the Difference.
How We Make Our Award-Winning Cheddar Cheese Now
Raw, whole milk is first pasteurized then mixed with a solution called "starter" containing strains of bacteria to inoculate the milk. Microbial enzyme is then added to help the milk coagulate into a gelatin-like texture, followed by the addition of an all-natural colouring agent.
Once the milk has set it is cut into small cubes. The vats are then heated to cause the whey to separate from the milk solids so that it can be drained to allow the cheese to form into long slabs. The slabs are then cut into foot-long pieces and piled two slabs high. They are re-piled over and over every 15 minutes to drive out the excess moisture until the desired PH level is reached.
The cheese is then "milled" into finger pieces called curds once the desired PH and textures are reached. Stirred and salted, the curds are then poured into steel boxes called "hoops" and pressed overnight. In the morning they are vacuum sealed in bags, packed and refrigerated.
What happens next is unique to Bothwell Cheese. We test the PH level on all cheeses to determine which blocks will be kept for aging. Higher PH cheese means better aging qualities for our Medium and Old Cheddars. Lower PH cheese becomes our Mild Cheddar and is distributed fresh from the packaging process.