Dairy processing – an overview
growth of harmful bacteria. The removal of lactose means that these products can be eaten by
people who suffer from lactose intolerance. The acid also creates the characteristic curd of
yoghurt. The shelf life is extended by several days and the changes in flavour and texture make
this a popular product in most regions.
Separating milk fat from the watery part of milk produces cream. This can be made as a product
for sale, but care is needed because there is a greater risk of cream causing food poisoning.
Production of cream is not recommended except by the most experienced small-scale dairies.
However, cream is also used to make butter and ghee (see Technical Brief: Butter and ghee),
which have lower moisture contents and are much safer. When butter is prepared and stored
correctly, it can have a shelf life of several months. Clarified butter (ghee) also has a shelf life of
several months. Both are high-value products and have a good market in most countries. In
cheese-making (see Technical Brief: Cheese-making), a curd is produced and the watery part of
milk is separated as ‘whey’. ‘Cottage’ cheese or simple curd cheeses are relatively easy to make
at a small scale, but hard cheeses require greater levels of investment, and more skill and
expertise. It is recommended that market research is undertaken to find which types of cheese
are popular before contemplating production, because in some areas the demand for hard
cheese is small. Training in production should then be obtained from an experienced cheese-
Another process is boiling milk to evaporate water and produce a brownish gel that is eaten as a
snack food or sweet. The product has a shelf life of a few weeks and may have ingredients such
as sugar, colour, spices, fruits or nuts added to give a variety of products.
In summary, dairy products are low, medium or high-risk foods as follows:
Low-risk dairy products:
Medium-risk dairy products: Soured (cultured) milks, yoghurt, cheeses, milk confectionery.
High-risk dairy products:
Cream, ice cream, pasteurised milk.
Yoghurt, soured milks, butter, ghee, soft cheeses and milk confectionery are each highly suitable
for small-scale operation, whereas production of hard cheeses, cream, ice cream and pasteurised
milk require greater expertise and care.
Note: This is a selective list of suppliers and does not imply endorsement by Practical Action.
The website Smalldairy.com also lists equipment suppliers, laboratory supplies, books and
contacts for small-scale dairy processing.
Dairy processing equipment
Fullwood Ltd., Grange Road, Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 9DF, UK. Tel: +44(0)1691
622391. Fax: +44 (0) 1691 622355. Website: www.fullwood.com
Batch Pasteuriser. Specially developed for smaller quantities of milk, cream, yoghurt,
cheese and cultured cream. Capacity: 150-500 litres/hour Power: Electric
Dairy Udyog, C-230, Ghatkopar Industrial Estate, L.B.S. Marg, Ghatkopar (West),
Mumbai - 400 086, India. Tel: +91 (0)22 2517 1636 / 2517 1960.
Fax: +91 (0) 22 2517 0878. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Milk testing equipment & utensils. The equipment includes hand operated and
electric centrifuges, funnels, beakers, flasks and milk collecting trays, cans and
pails. Sealing and Filling Machines. Semi-automatic machine for packing liquids
such as milk, oil, ghee etc.
Glengarry Cheesemaking and Dairy Supply Ltd., 5926 Hwy#34, RR#1, Lancaster,
Ontario, Canada, Tel: 1-888-816-0903 or 613 347 1141, Fax: 1 613 347 1167, E-
Mail: email@example.com, Website: www.glengarrycheesemaking.on.ca