Appropriate-Scale, Inexpensive Cheese Vat for the Farmstead Cheesemaker

Final Report for FS02-147

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $6,430.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information


The South does not have a significant history of small-scale cheese making and so there is very little equipment lying around in barns that can be adapted or rehabilitated by today’s small-scale cheese makers. Inexpensive cheese vats are difficult to come by for use by small-scale cheese makers.

One of the issues for these small-scale cheese makers is making use of an auxiliary cheese vat in addition to their pasteurizing vat. By using an auxiliary vat, a cheese maker can make several batches of cheese and save time.

The original idea of making a cheese vat from a pre-manufactured sausage truck had to be discarded in the early stages of this project. It was felt by the fabricator that the costs and logistics of outfitting a sausage truck with a water jacket would be prohibitive and, even if it could be done, the final product might not meet (Pasteurized Milk Ordinance) PMO requirements. For this reason we designed a vat to be built “from scratch.”

Despite the best of intentions, we found it is very difficult to build approved cheese-making equipment at low cost. The dogma of the PMO, which was appropriately created for the massive conventional dairy industry, is also applied to the construction of small-scale equipment for artisanal use. A couple of seemingly minor changes in our vat design, required for compliance with the PMO, resulted in a 25% increase over the estimated cost. Nevertheless, the finished vat works well using hot water recirculating through an on-demand gas water heater.

Southern SARE Producer Grants no longer fund equipment. A copy of the blueprints for the vat design is available for $10 (to cover costs of printing and mailing) from Vicki Dunaway at P O Box 186, Willis VA 24380.


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.