In 1938, a rush shipment of 10 teakwood hoops left the port in Holland, destined for Mississippi State University! The hoops were moulds for the famous “cannon ball” Edam cheese, which has endured as an MSU symbol for more than 80 years! F.H. Herzer introduced the first Edam, an artisan cheese that would soon become an infinite part of MSU tradition.
The story of MSU cheese is much bigger than Edam. It begins at the Bearden Dairy Research Center where Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) staff milk up to 200 cows, twice daily, 365 days a year. The dairy is home to Holstein heifers, an award winning Jersey herd, and crossbred grazers. The university’s Jersey herd is ranked in the top 10 by the American Jersey Cattle Association, the only collegiate herd in the top 10 ranking.
Our Custer Dairy Processing Plant churns out 5,500 pounds of butter per year, and about 1,300 gallons of milk are delivered each day! Milk is pasteurized and homogenized to produce 2 percent (reduced-fat) white milk, and whole chocolate milk. Our buttermilk is cultured and pasteurized. The processing plant also produces 50,000 gallons of fluid milk each year which is used throughout campus eateries and available for sale at the MAFES Sales Store.
About 25,000 gallons of ice cream are produced each year by the Custer Dairy Processing Plant. Muscadine Ripple, a popular favorite, is produced with muscadine grapes grown and harvested at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station. It takes 150 gallons of muscadine juice to produce a year’s worth of Muscadine Ripple, one of seven flavors sold by cup in the MAFES Sales Store. The store also offers half gallon and three gallon sizes in 11 flavors.
The plant produces 50,000 three-pound balls of Edam cheese each year. Additional one-and-a-half-pound balls are made for the Maroon and White Gift Packs. Once cheese forms in moulds, it is placed in a salt brine bath before waxing. Edam cheese is aged three months before sale.
Cheddar cheese is made in large blocks weighing about 20 pounds each. Two 20 pound blocks are placed in a wooden crate and aged. After the three-month aging period is complete, cheese is cut into two-pound blocks, waxed, vacuum sealed, and ready for purchase. 50,000 blocks are sold annually.
The Custer Dairy Processing plant produces 10,000 wheels of Vallagret each year. Vallagret has a flavor similar to Swiss. Once the cheese is formed into wheels, it’s immersed in a salt brine bath, and then cooled down; heat treated, and cooled down again to be aged in cold storage.
Purpose of the Plant
The dairy plant is a teaching laboratory in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station research laboratory. The facility is equipped with the most modern equipment available and provides an excellent teaching and research laboratory for the students studying dairy foods at Mississippi State University. The cheese operation is a by-product of the teaching and research programs.
In addition to providing a self-supporting plant, it advertises and promotes Mississippi State University and the State of Mississippi. The plant provides some financial support for our research and teaching programs.
The MAFES Sales Store is open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (central time) Monday through Friday. The store is closed during regular university holidays. We are open for home football game days. The store is located in the glass annex at the front of the Herzer Food Science Building on 925 Stone Boulevard. In addition to products available to order online, the MAFES Sales Store offers a wide range of products for purchase in the store. Visit our In the Store page to view products available for purchase at the store only.
The MAFES Sales Store ships cheese products daily from mid-November to mid-April each year. Orders to U.S. addresses are shipped through the United Parcel Service Ground Service; deliveries to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, military boxes, and all P. O. boxes are shipped via USPS. Non-dairy products are shipped year round. Orders are shipped the following business day of receipt or the shipping date requested by the customer and generally take 2-5 days to arrive, depending on shipped location.
Orders may also be picked up the MAFES Sales Store on the MSU campus.