I had seen all those Tillamook Cheese ads. I had even picked up some of that cheese from the supermarket, a few times. So, when I got to know that Tillamook Cheese Factory in Oregon was open to the public and that it was a good place to take kids to, I jumped at the idea.
I thought my little boy could pick up a few lessons and I didn’t mind some cheese-making knowledge, myself. So, on one of those rainy days that the Pacific Northwest is famous for, off we went to the Cheese Factory that lets us see its day-to-day activities.
Note: Here is something to do if you find yourself in the Portland -Vancouver Metropolitan Area during it’s really-long rainy season.
The hour-long drive from Portland took us through Tillamook State Forest and into the small town of Tillamook. The rain was incessant so when we got to Tillamook Cheese Factory, we covered our heads and the stroller with our littlest one in it, and made a dash across the parking lot and into the shelter of the factory’s roofs.
Once we were in there, we saw that there were a whole lot of information boards with notes on cows and milk and cheese. Even some Tillamook County history. After reading through some of those boards and making the boys pose
by the cut-outs of a milkman and a cow at the entrance, we went straight to the cheese.
This was the yummiest part of the tour — a cheese-tasting session. There, laid before us were plates with cubes of Tillamook’s own cheeses: Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Garlic Cheese, White Cheddar and some Cheese curds.
|Plates of deliciousness — some samples of Tillamook’s cheeses.|
After sampling Tillamook’s cheeses, we moved further into the factory to see what we were there to see — the process of cheese-making. From second-floor viewing corridors we were allowed look down into the processing areas. This was where the milk went into large cylinders to be turned into curds-and-whey first, and then into cheese. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the milk separate into curds and whey. But we did see chunks of 40-pound salted
cheese fall out of presses and into large plastic bags and get sealed.
On the other side of the walkway we saw the sealed cheese being transported to the ageing room in paper boxes. And on the other end of the room there were the blocks of aged cheese making their way to the cutting, sorting and inspection area. From there, they apparently got packed in Tillamook packaging and got all-set for the supermarkets and the aisles of Tillamook Cheese Factory’s on-site store.
|The viewing area|
|The processing area.|
|Some information for the self -guided tour of the factory. The viewing area had several boards like these.|
|The pressed cheese getting sealed and moved towards the ageing chamber.|
|I believe these are the 40-pound loaves.|
|Cheese on the way to the ageing chambers.|
|These must be Tillamook’s ‘Baby loaves.’|
|Inspection area, I believe.|
|Look at all that cheese. This definitely is the cheesiest place I’ve been to. 😀|
I had gone in hoping to see the initial part of the cheese making: that of the
milk being turned into cheese just as I had seen in the video on the cheese
factory’s site. Not being able to see that was a bit disappointing. I also wish
we could have gotten a glimpse of the ageing room. Even pictures of the room should have been enough. Anyway, I returned happy that I got to learn of the steps of the cheese-making process
and also all about that cheese company called Tillamook.
Did you know that Tillamook Cheese Factory is a co-operative?
Tillamook Chese factory is owned and run by the people who own the farms in the area, and rear the cows that
call Tillamook county home.
If you’d like to visit Tillamook Cheese Factory:
- You might want to save this plan for those rainy days. Since the cheese factory tour happens indoors, the rains of the Pacific Northwest will not play spoilsport.
- The Cheese Factory has a store attached to it so if you like any of the cheeses you tasted, you know where to pick it up before you leave Tillamook.
- You can find food here. There is a cafe at the Cheese Factory — the Creamery Cafe.
- You can even taste some Tillamook ice cream here. It is not part of the factory tour, so you will have to buy it separately.