Seasonal lemon flavor on the horizon; over 22,000 gallons of ice cream produced each year
It’s 7 a.m. at the WSU Knott Dairy Center.
The students spin through the milking parlor alongside 37 cows, hoping to provide high-quality milk that will eventually become award-winning ice cream and classic Cougar Gold cheese.
Since 1948, Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe has been making dairy products for the Pullman community and hungry consumers nationwide.
Its secret ingredient? WSU students.
“The main reason we’re here, and the most important thing we do, is for student employees to work here, learn how to make cheese, and have jobs,” said John Haugen, director of WSU Creamery. .
Haugen said a few students arrive at 4 a.m. every morning and go to the dairy center. WSU Dairy, the University of Idaho, and Cooperative University Dairy Students provide all of the dairy’s milk.
Andrew Bartelheimer, CUDS president and fifth-generation dairy farmer, said the organization’s “rockstar” cows produce more than 125 pounds of milk a day.
At the WSU Knott Dairy Center, purebred Holstein cows are tethered to a machine with milk weights, which measure the amount of milk the cows produce. The process takes at least 45 minutes, Bartelheimer said.
Bartelheimer said CUDS has a symbiotic relationship with Ferdinand’s because the store pays them an above-average price for the premium quality of their milk.
“Because CUDS is a unique opportunity – it’s one of four programs like it in the country and it was the first of its kind – it’s really something special,” he said. declared. “In addition to only [Ferdinand’s] by being able to pay us a different price, we bring them a little added value because it is done by students.
After the creamery employees return to Ferdinand’s, they place the raw milk in a tank pasteurizer, killing the pathogens that make raw milk unsafe to consume, Haugen said. For ice cream, milk is heated to 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes on Wednesday.
Cream, sugar, powdered milk and corn syrup are mixed with milk and passed through a homogenizer, which breaks down the butterfat. Haugen said the mixture is then cooled to 40 degrees and enters the flavoring vats, where it sits overnight before freezing the next day.
Catering to crowds of football fans and parents on family weekends, the creamery produces more than 22,000 gallons of ice cream annually. Haugen said customers love the premium Huckleberry Ripple Ice Cream. This spring, Ferdinand’s will release its seasonal lemon flavor.
Although Ferdinand’s opens on Saturdays for special university events, its regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Haugen said the limited hours are part of the “good neighborhood” of downtown Pullman businesses that sell ice cream and other desserts.
“There is actually a state mandate that states that entities that are part of the university are not supposed to compete with private companies,” he said. “Part of that limits our hours, so people go downtown for an ice cream cone at night or on weekends instead of coming here.”
Haugen said Cougar Gold cheese is another customer favorite. As cheese ages, it becomes more crumbly and forms tyrosine crystals, signifying “good cheese,” he said.
“The supplemental culture we put in Cougar Gold gives it a milder, nuttier flavor than you get with cheddar, and that tends to keep it from becoming bitter,” Haugen said. “Some people age Cougar Gold two or three or four or five years before they open the box, and its flavor gets stronger and stronger as it ages.”
During the production process, the cheese is pumped onto a finishing table, where two lines of cheese are left on each side after the whey has been drained off, Haugen said.
Haugen said the creamery is unique from larger companies like Tillamook because about 40 of its students complete the cheddaring process by hand.
They cut the cheese into loaves and turn them every 15 minutes for half an hour. The cheese is salted, pressed into cylindrical hoops, wrapped in cheesecloth and left overnight in a hoop before then being sealed in the creamery tins, Haugen said.
During his freshman year of college, Haugen began working at Ferdinand’s in Troy Hall before the creamery moved to the Food Quality Building in 1992. His sisters, brother, and brothers-in-law also worked at the creamery in the university.
He said it was “quite an experience” to watch the creamery’s operations grow since then. Ferdinand’s plans to increase cheese production to two batches of cheese per day to supplement the 50,000 packets of cheese shipped nationwide each year.
Bartelheimer said the creamery’s canned cheese and his appearance on the Rachael Ray Show last year made Ferdinand memorable. He said even the dairy experts who review the CUDS herd annually have opinions about the dairy’s products.
“As one of the CUDS critics said, ‘Ferdinand is not controversial, but football is’,” he said.