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Touring Wisconsin Food

100 Wisconsin Food Facts

100 Wisconsin Food FactsI have put together 100 Wisconsin food facts, which is certainly the most epic blog post ever to be published on Edible Antics and maybe the most epic food blog post to be published on a Wisconsin food blog ever. All of these facts are accurate to the best of my knowledge and my sources are listed at the bottom of the post. If you believe any of the facts are inaccurate, or you would like to add your own Wisconsin food facts, please leave comments, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Dairy Facts

 

  1. Wisconsin is the number one cheese producing state in the country.
  2. A survey asked respondents what gift they would most like to receive and cheese was the winner with 19%. Candy came in at only 13%.
  3. All Wisconsin cheesemakers must receive a certification which is earned through taking classes and serving as an apprentice.
  4. Freezing cheese can change its texture, so thawed cheese works best in cooked dishes.
  5. Cheese absorbs flavors so keep it away from strong smelling foods (onions and garlic, for example). Storing cheese in its own drawer is the best.
  6. Cheese curds are a fresh cheese–most commonly of the Cheddar variety–in its natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks and aged. Curds have a mild taste with a slightly rubbery texture and should squeak when eaten. Find out more on my blog post What is a Cheese Curd?
  7. Cheese curds usually come in the cheddar variety, but Decatur Dairy makes a unique Muenster cheese curd.
  8. A longhorn is a cylinder of cheese that is 6-inches in diameter and 13-inches long, and is usually of the Colby or Colby Jack varieties.
  9. Before airtight shrink bags were invented, cheesemakers would wrap cheese in a cheesecloth then dip it in wax to preserve the cheese.
  10. Sometimes wax denotes the age of the cheese. With Cheddar for example, red wax indicates a medium cheddar and black wax indicates sharp cheddar. Wax is also sometimes used to make fun cheese shapes, like the State of Wisconsin or a cow.
  11. Mozzarella is the top selling cheese variety in the United States, followed by cheddar.
  12. The average American eats 33 pounds of cheese a year which adds up to a ton of cheese over the course of a lifetime.
  13. Why does Wisconsin cheese taste so good? It’s in the grass. Wisconsin’s grass is less acidic than grass in other states, which gives the cheese a milder flavor.
  14. The Cook Family (Carr Valley Cheese) has been making cheese in Wisconsin for over 100 years.
  15. Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook of Carr Valley received his cheesemaking license at the mild age of 16.
  16. Sid says that during a busy day of cheesemaking, he would put a chocolate bar on his Swiss cheese sandwich. This busy day sandwich inspired his Cocoa Cardona cheese creation.
  17. Sid decided to create Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar after a woman in a grocery store suggested the flavor combination.
  18. Cedar Grove was the first cheese producer to pledge that all products would be free of Bovine Growth Hormone.
  19. Cheesemaking at Cedar Grove begins at 11pm, and the process isn’t finished until 9pm the next night.
  20. Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese is aged for up to 60 days in a cellar with wooden shelves that came from Holland.
  21. The dairy cows that produce the milk for Holland’s Family Cheese are pampered! They sleep on soft bedding and are cooled with fans in the summer.
  22. In 1991 Felix and Ulrich Roth and Fermo Jaeckle came to Wisconsin from Switzerland to start Roth Kase USA and since then have won over 100 awards.
  23. President Mike Brennenstuhl of Ader Kasehas over 32 years of cheesemaking experience and specializes in blue cheese.
  24. The word “kase” is German for cheese.
  25. At Zimmerman Cheese, they process over 40,000 pounds of cheese per day.
  26. The Mt. Sterling Co-Op has been making goat cheese since 1976.
  27. Tim Gile is a third generation cheesemaker at Gile Cheese and has won over 200 awards.
  28. Pasture Pride uses milk from cows provided by Amish Farmers and specializes in a baked cheese called Juusto.
  29. The Babcock Hall Dairy Store was built in 1951.
  30. Babcock Hall at the University of Wisconsin was named after Stephen Babcock. In 1890, Babcock developed a milkfat test that is still used today. The tests determines which cows produce the richest milk that is best for cheese making.
  31. 1890 was also the year that the University of Wisconsin-Madison opened the nation’s first Dairy Science Department, and it is still the country’s top dairy school to this day.
  32. Today Wisconsin has approximately 12,000 dairy farms.
  33. Wisconsin was officially named “America’s Dairyland” in 1930.
  34. More than 99% of Wisconsin’s dairy farms are family owned.
  35. Wisconsin has an estimated 1.26 million cows.
  36. Studies show that chocolate milk helps muscles recover quickly after physical activity.
  37. About 90% of the milk produced in Wisconsin is used to make cheese.
  38. Wisconsin cheesemakers make 2.6 billion pounds of cheese each year.
  39. More than 25% of all the cheese in the USA is made in Wisconsin.
  40. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to create one pound of cheese.
  41. Wisconsin is the only state with a Master Cheesemaker program. The program is modeled after the rigorous Master Cheesemaker program in Europe.
  42. There are 44 Master Cheesemakers in Wisconsin.
  43. It takes three years to complete the Master Cheesemaker program.
  44. Over 600 varieties of cheese are made in Wisconsin, more than any other state. The runner-up only has 250 varieties.
  45. Wisconsin produces more cheddar cheese than any other state and also produces the most Limburger, Muenster, Parmesan, Provolone and Romano.
  46. Anne Picket was the first home cheesemaker in Wisconsin in 1841.
  47. Colby cheese is named after the Wisconsin town where it was created, Colby, Wisconsin.
  48. Brick cheese is another Wisconsin original, it was invented in Dodge County, Wisconsin.
  49. A cheese a day keeps the dentist away! Cheese can help prevent tooth decay.
  50. Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods creates British-style cheese in Wisconsin.
  51. Golden Age Cheese is a single farm cheese which means the milk for the cheese comes from only one dairy.
  52. Polk County, Wisconsin uses recycled cheese brine instead of salt to de-ice the roads.
  53. The state beverage isn’t beer, it’s milk!Meat Facts
  54. In 2012 the first class of Master Meat Crafters graduated from the University of Wisconsin. One of the graduates was Jeff Roberts of Glenn’s Market.
  55. The Roberts family has been making gourmet bratwurst at Glenn’s Market for 28 years.
  56. Landjager is a popular semi-dried Wisconsin sausage that is mildly seasoned and heavily smoked. Landjager is made of beef or pork and makes a great snack for camping and hiking because it doesn’t require refrigeration. The sausages are about the size of a hot dog but have a square shape from being pressed flat.
  57. The word Wiener is the “old school” word for hot dog derived from the city of Vienna, Austria. Wieners from Frankfurt, Germany were known as frankfurters.
  58. Brat is the German word for fry and wurst is the German word for sausage.
  59. Bratwurst and Wisconsin go together like peanut butter and jelly, but even the Wisconsin Historical Society has little to say about the history of Wisconsin bratwurst, other than German immigrants continued their sausage traditions here in the states.
  60. Bavaria Sausage Kitchen of Madison, Wisconsin began in 1956 with Fred and Kathy Volle came to America from Bavaria Germany with old world sausage making techniques. They claim to have brought the first bratwurst to Wisconsin.
  61. Nurnberger brats are a long and skinny bratwurst made with beef, pork, and a special blend of spices that Wisconsinmade.com shoppers say tastes just like the real deal in Germany.
  62. The red brats that are served on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin are called State Street Brats and they are famous among University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates.
  63. Sausages aren’t the only tasty meat from Wisconsin. Terry Diedrich started the Navarino Valley Elk and Bison Ranch in 1992 with ten animals. Today he has over 100 elk as well as 75 bison. You can find Navarino elk and bison sausage and jerky on Wisconsinmade.com.
  64. The Nueske family came to Wisconsin in 1882 bringing with them their European skills of Applewood smoking and dozens of recipes for spicing and curing meats.
  65. In 1933, R. C. Nueske decided to market his home-made products locally in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, and today Nueske Applewood Smoked Meats are famous nationwide.Other Wisconsin Food Facts
  66. Nueske applewood smoked bacon has been praised by The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and recently became a Gold Award Winner in the Specialty Food Association’s 2010 national competition.
  67. The state grain is corn.
  68. Knights Gourmet Popcorn start on Llewellyn and Ted Knight’s porch. Neighbors would knock on the window and Ted would serve them popcorn out of the popcorn machine on their living room.
  69. If you prefer to do your own popping, try Fireworks Popcorn. This Port Washington, Wisconsin based company selects Native American popcorn varities for their unique textures and flavors.
  70. The state fruit is cranberries.
  71. Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state.
  72. Each year Wisconsin cranberry growers harvest enough cranberries to give everyone in the world 26 berries.
  73. Cranberries do NOT grow in water. The plants grow on vines in low lying areas.  Cranberry growers flood the areas where cranberries grow to harvest floating fruits.
  74. The flow of maple syrup in maple trees is brought on by the change in temperatures in the Spring when the warm days are followed by freezing nights.
  75. An average maple tree will produce about 20 gallons of sap each year, which only amounts to about 2 quarts of syrup!
  76. Door County Wisconsin grows about 5% of the USA’s cherry crop each year.
  77. According to the Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association, a diet rich in cherry food can combat major heart disease risk factors.  Eating cherries has been linked to lower body fat, decreased inflammation, and lower cholesterol.
  78. Lake and river fish were an abundant food source for Native Americans and early European immigrants, which may be why we love a Friday Fish Fry in Wisconsin.
  79. In the early 1900s, Danish immigrants arrived in Racine, Wisconsin and opened Danish style bakeries. Some of those bakeries, like O & H Bakery, are still baking up giant Danish pastries called Kringles.
  80. According to WhatsCookingAmerica.net Kringles used to be pretzel shaped, but evolved into ovals so they could accommodate more filling. Smart move!
  81. O & H Bakery was founded in 1949 by Christian Olsen in Racine, Wisconsin.
  82. Racine has one of the highest Danish populations in the United States, and is known as the Kringle Capital of the World.
  83. A Kringle is a sweet, flaky, oval-shaped pastry with fruit, nuts, chocolate, or some other decadent filling.
  84. O & H Bakery makes a variety of other pastries including Krasekager– a Danish style wedding cake.
  85. In his article Custard- The Other White Treat New York Post reporter David Lansel claims that custard was invented in New York (gasp!) but the custard tradition has mostly disappeared from the East Coast. Ice cream’s smoother, eggy-er, and arguably tastier cousin may have un-Wisconsin origins, but burger joints like Michael’s (Madison), Kopp’s (Milwaukee), and Culver’s  (multiple locations) have made custard the pride of America’s Dairyland.
  86. Wisconsin is home to the National Mustard Museum which contains the world’s largest collection of prepared mustards — over 5,100 jars, bottles, and tubes from all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
  87. Wisconsin ranks 3rd in potato production in the United States.
  88. Wisconsin harvests 2.2 billion pounds of potatoes each year.
  89. Over 95% of ginseng in the USA is grow in Wisconsin.
  90. The climate and soil conditions in Marathon County, Wisconsin are perfect for growing ginseng, and Wisconsin ginseng is considered the best in the world.
  91. Bay View Packing Company has been making quality pickled foods in Wisconsin for four generations, since 1923.
  92. When Old Tavern Food Products opened for business in 1926 it consisted of a small building with three items for sale.  Today the company has over 200 items for sale, but is still family owned and operated.
  93. Mad Grad Medley ice cream from Babcock Hall Dairy was created to celebrate 150 Years of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.  The combination of Door County cherries, vanilla and chocolate was dreamed up by a UW graduate.
  94. It takes 12 pounds of milk to create 1 gallon of ice cream.
  95. In 1881, the first ice cream sundae was served in Two Rivers, WI. A customer at a soda fountain asked for a dish of ice cream with chocolate sauce on top.  The sweet treat became popular but was only served on Sundays to start.
  96. Blue Moon ice cream is a childhood favorite for many Wisconsinites. It has a unique blue color and a fruity flavor.
  97. Vanilla and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough are the two most popular flavors at Babcock Hall Dairy.
  98. The gourmet sugar cookies by  K-Delights are baked to order and hand decorated, and have been sold in Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
  99. Another creative cookie company we love in Wisconsin is Embossed Edibles.  Bakers use beautiful molds from their vast collection to create Springerle cookies.  Each cookie is hand painted with colorful designs.
  100. In December 2011, Wisconsinmade.com’s Pie of the Month Club was featured on America’s longest running game show, The Price is Right.

 

Sources:

Wisconsinmade.com

Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association

Wisconsin.gov

Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association

ClassicWisconsin.com

Wisconsin Potato Growers Assocation

The Bratwurst Pages

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

The National Sausage Council

3 Comments

  1. AWESOME! I just started reading through these and had to stop to leave a quick comment. Now back to reading! 😀

  2. Send this to California!

  3. Cool I love Wisconsin!!!

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