I had met Manual Linares over a year ago. One evening, shortly after meeting him, I visited with him in his house and learned a lot about the business of Cheese.
Manuel is the owner and operator of Stanza Cheese Factory in David. He had invited me to see the factory and I have been meaning to visit his factory for a long time. I finally did it last Friday.
We found Manual in his office and he provided us with a tour. I have always been a fan of cheese and processes and today I would learn more of the process of making cheese.
Our first stop was to the laboratory where we met one of the keys to a healthy and cost efficient product. The laboratory technician is responsible for determining the quality of the milk that is received by the process. Bacteria is measured. Fat content is measured. Water content is measured among other things.
Knowing the water content is very important because it is a common practice for the milk to be watered down. When asked, the milk providers never know how the water got in the milk. It is sort of like pork going into some of the legislation in the US congress. No one there wants to admit to having put in the pork either.
The testing process insures that the correct amount is paid for the milk received and the quality is understood. As you can see testing is required for health reasons as well as economic reasons.
Next we went to the factory. Everyone in the factory must wear a surgical hat to prevent contamination from in the manufacturing area. At the entrance you were also required to wash your hands.
This is a view of the main pasteurizing area.
Here is a view from the other end of the room.
This is a pressurized system and every inch that the milk passes through has technology measuring it. At on point in the process, the milk has its temperature raised to 72 degrees Centigrade (162 degrees Fahrenheit). It spends 15 seconds in this process and the temperature is measured going in and coming out. If the temperature had fallen below the required temperature, it has to go through again. This is the part of the process that kills the bacteria.
The equipment you see here was made by the Sanchelima Company in Florida and tailor made to the needs of each factory.
This device records the entire yime period of the milk going through this process. The paper graph which records all elements of the process is provided to the Panama health inspectors. Pretty impressive.
When we left the factory, this truck was being loaded with cheese heading for Panama City.
In the office, where you can purchase cheese, I met these two ladies. They help keep the business side running smoothly.
This is a first class operation and it produces first class cheese. I know it is good because I use it and so does Pino of Popeye’s Pizza.
I picked up a some graded mozzarella and a block of mozzarella and some butter. Yum. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
The Stanza factory is on the parallel street to the west of the road going to Boquete approximately where the mosque is. If you stop in, tell them you read about them on Chiriquí Chatter.
UPDATE August 23, 2011: I added the following driving video to assist you in finding the Stanza Cheese Factory.