Tales from the Road: IFT 2016

Carnita

Another successful IFT is in the books for Didion! This year at our booth we served up a new take on the classic carnita – a dish traditionally consisting of shredded pork served in burritos, tacos or tamales.

Didion’s Cantina CORN-ita used our HarvestGold corn meal to create a flat corn pancake base, replacing the traditional tortilla. The pancake was then topped with pulled pork, guacamole, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and a hint of key lime juice. Using corn meal enhanced the texture, color and especially the flavor of the CORN-ita!

Check out this behind-the-scenes look at our CORN-itas being made at our booth during the show:

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Our team had a blast in Chicago and we hope that all of you who attended did as well!

We Are Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 Recertified!

In 2013, Didion achieved our FSSC 22000 – however to maintain this certification we’ve had yearly surveillance audits. Since this is Didion’s 4th year with the program, we were required to go through a complete recertification audit.

The full audit takes 2.5 days to complete (a surveillance audit take only 1.5 days) and due to our company’s role in food safety, all departments are affected by the audit. FSSC 22000 is more than a certification, it is a way of doing business – Didion’s entire process, from purchasing, milling, shipping, and even training, is done according to FSSC 22000 guidelines.

We are proud of our participation in FSSC 22000! Not only does our certification prepare us for the FDA’s Food Safety Moderation Act revision and help meet our customer’s requirements, but it also makes us a better company and ensures safe manufacturing of our products.

The recertification audit this year was a success! There was only one minor nonconformity found and actions have already been taken to correct it. We are very proud of our results and continuous improvement to ensure the best possible product for our customers. The entire Didion team looks forward to celebrating our success!

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You can read more about FSSC 22000 here.

Picnic Perfect

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Summer is almost officially here! As the weather heats up, people head outdoors. What better way to enjoy the weather than spending time outdoors with friends and family at a picnic? June 18th is International Picnic Day – pack up your blanket and basket and pick the perfect spot!

While you’re preparing your picnic, don’t forget our favorite food item here at Didion – corn! Besides the summer staple of sweet corn on the cob, you can find field corn in a number of picnic-ready products.

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Did you know that when you’re grilling your burgers or brats with charcoal, you’re using a corn product? Corn is commonly used in charcoal as a binding agent to help the briquettes keep their shape!

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Or how about when you grab a nice cold beer from the cooler? You might be enjoying another corn product! Corn grits are used by a number of breweries as an adjunct to the barley malt, creating a lighter, pilsner-type beer.

 

Just another example of how corn is perfect for any occasion!

Celebrating National Corn on the Cob Day!

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It’s grilling season – the perfect time to enjoy a delicious ear of corn on the cob. Especially in honor of National Corn on the Cob Day on June 11th! But did you know the corn you are eating is probably not the type of corn that you drive by every day? In fact, in the United States, there is about 394 times more field corn grown than there is sweet corn!

Field Cocorn-stalkrn

Field Corn, also known as dent corn, is the traditional corn that you see driving past cornfields. These are the very tall corn ears that you see harvested in the fall. Field corn is also referred to as dent corn because of the indent that each of the kernels get as the corn dries out. Dent corn is very dry and mainly used to make animal feed and ethanol, though it is also used for food processing. Some of the products that field corn can be made into include: corn meal, corn flour, whole grain corn flours, pregelatinized corn flours, corn grits, corn bran and yeast protein.

fresh-picked-corn[1]Sweet Corn

Sweet corn, on the other hand, is the type of corn that can be eaten off the cob. This type of corn is harvested much earlier in the growing season compared to field corn. Producers do this so the kernels stay moist and soft and good for eating! Not only is sweet corn much easier to eat, but it also has more natural sugar, which is why you can eat it right off the cob. Sweet corn is mainly used for human consumption – corn on the cob, canned corn and frozen corn; however in some cases it’s also used as silage – food for farm animals that is stored inside a silo.

So be sure to raise an ear in celebration of National Corn on the Cob Day tonight!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! At Didion, we’re dedicated to sustainability – not just in sourcing but in every aspect of our business. We partner with local and national sustainability-focused organizations to further our environmental efforts – since 2008, our energy efficiency investments have reaped enough energy savings to power 4321 homes for an entire year!

FOE AwardLast week we proudly accepted a 2016 Excellence in Energy Award from Focus on Energy for our commitment to energy efficiency practices. A program through the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Focus on Energy works with Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. To learn more about our projects with Focus on Energy, check out this great article!

In Wisconsin, Didion is also part of the WI Sustainable Business Council’s Green Masters Program, achieving our Green Masters Designation for the third year in a row. The objective of this program is to provide companies with a benchmark for themselves and the ability to compare their sustainability performance to other companies in their sector.

Sustainability ObjectiveOn a national level, Didion is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program – in December 2009 we signed a pledge to reduce our energy consumption by 25% over the course of 10 years. We’re definitely on our way with a 13.3% reduction over the last 6 years!

As Didion grows and evolves, so does our dedication to sustainability. Our commitment to conservation means we will continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and preserve the land for future generations.

By: Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

Tales from the Road: IFT ’15

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IFT is coming up July 12-14 and this year it is back in Chicago. For our food sample we decided to put a new twist on a Polish favorite and a Chicago classic!  This year we are featuring a whole grain, gluten free pierogi.

What is a pierogi?Capture 2

A pierogi is a traditional Polish dish that has become a Chicago classic. This stuffed dumpling is boiled and then sometimes pan-fried, depending on the filling. Our dough will use whole grain corn flour and rice flour (instead of the traditional wheat) to keep them gluten free.

Pierogi fillings can be sweet or savory – we will serve three different types so be sure to stop by often and see what flavors we are offering!

See how Didion’s ingredients will be used in our Pierogi:

WHOLE GRAIN CORN FLOURCapture

With great flavor, plus the added benefit of being gluten free, whole grain corn flour is a better option than many of the starch ingredients typically found in gluten free products. Whole grain corn flour bring all the bulk of other starches along with a pleasing flavor.

CORN BRAN

Corn bran — featured in the filling of the lunch/dinner pierogi — adds fiber, delivers unique mouthfeel and nut-like notes that round out the flavor profile.

CORN PREGELS

Our pre-gelatinized corn flour creates a thick preservative- and additive-free sauce, and also acts as a dough conditioner to improve the pierogi wrapper’s texture and eating quality.

Come visit Didion Milling at IFT Booth 754 and see what they are all about!

By: Riley Didion, VP of Business Development at Didion Milling

Raise Your Glass!

We love Fourth of July because we get to toast to America’s freedom—with a nice, cold beer. Beer is important to us because our corn grits are used in the production process for a number of national beer brands.

What are corn grits?

Corn grits are made in the heart of the dry-milling process at Didion. During the milling process, the endosperm is separated from the bran and germ by gently grinding the corn.. Once the vitreous endosperm (the coarser endosperm) is separated, it is roller milled and sifted to the correct size range for brewers grits.

What do corn grits do in beer?

Beer is mostly made up of three main ingredients: water, barley malt, and hops. During the typical beer making process, yeast is added to the mix, which eventually helps convert the barley malt into alcohol. However, some bigger breweries like to use corn grits as an adjunct to the barley malt. You can think of an adjunct as an assistant. This means that the company can use less malt with the help of the corn grits, which will still be converted into alcohol. If a company chooses to use corn grits along with malt, they usually use a ratio of about 70% malt to 30% grits.

Why choose corn grits?

You still may be wondering, why not use all malt instead of adding some corn grits? The reason that larger breweries do this is because the grits allow them to produce a lighter beer than if all standard malt was used. Brewers grits have very little enzymatic activity, so adding them can dilute the enzymes that come with malt and produce the lighter, pilsner-type beer that Americans love!

So this weekend when you’re enjoying the fireworks and a cold brew, you might be drinking something that was produced with Didion corn grits!

By: Jeff Dillon, VP of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

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June is National Dairy Month!

Although Didion deals mainly with corn, one of our byproducts supports the dairy industry- DDGS. DDGS, or dried distillers grains with solubles is a co-product of the ethanol process.  DDGS are typically a supplement for protein and energy in an animal’s diet.

RFA Illustration[4]How do we make DDGS?

Developing the DDGS starts with the development of ethanol. The ground corn is fermented and the yeast converts the corn starch into ethanol.  Ethanol is then removed and the remaining mash contains protein, fiber, oil & minerals. The mash then is combined with a syrup that was created through evaporating water during parts of the process. This mixture is called Wet Distillers Grains with Solubles or WDGS.  WDGS are then dried down to become Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles, or DDGS.

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What are DDGS used for?

DDGS are mainly used for livestock feed. They increase necessary nutrients for animal health, and can be a cost-effective way to supplement corn and soybean meal in a feed ration for many livestock producers.  DDGS are used on dairy farms as well as beef, swine and poultry markets.

IMG_8025DDGS at Didion Milling

DDGS are the co-product of our ethanol process. We have several producers that both supply Didion with corn and buy distillers.

So while you enjoy your milk, ice cream or cheese curds this June, keep in mind the corn products that help make these dairy products possible!

By: Justin Koopmans, Feed Sales Representative and Grain Merchandiser at Didion Milling

Milling 101: Good Manufacturing Practices

Safety is a core value at Didion and we are committed to producing quality, safe products for our customers. An effective food safety system is a top priority, but how do we create a good basis for it? We do this by having certain rules and expectations in place that employees and visitors must follow whenever they are in our facility. These guidelines are known as Good Manufacturing Practices or GMP’s.

GMP’s are practices defined by the FDA that set guidelines for different manufacturing workplaces. For food manufacturers like Didion, these guidelines provide minimum requirements we must meet to ensure our products are safe and of high quality. These guidelines don’t necessarily tell a company how to manufacture, but rather list factors that need to be monitored during production.

Even though GMP’s are regulated by the FDA, they were established to be flexible so that each manufacturer can decide individually how to implement the best practices for them. This means that Didion can add to the list of already established GMP’s. In fact – the Didion list of GMPs includes 18 guidelines! Many of these rules regard aspects such as: proper attire, hair/facial hair restraint, food/drink consumption, sanitary issues etc.

GMP’s are a very important part of Didion’s safety culture because they are an integral part of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) prerequisite program, which is necessary to build a complete food safety program. Having a good basis by practicing GMP’s allows Didion to become certified to the internationally recognized food safety standard of FSSC 22000, one more step in the food safety management program.

One of the reasons Didion has been able to achieve such high food safety ratings is because we have a knowledgeable food safety leader and team established to help enforce these guidelines. This team is cross-functional and monitors everything from corn procurement to shipping! Along with Didion employees following these guidelines, we also make sure that we check visitors at the mill and have them read and sign off on GMP’s.

Ultimately, it is Didion’s responsibility to practice good food safety so that we produce the safest and highest quality products for our customers. Having effective GMP’s in place helps us accomplish this important task!

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Happy National Corn on the Cob Day!

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It’s grilling season – the perfect time to enjoy a delicious ear of corn on the cob. But did you know the corn you are eating is probably not the type of corn that you drive by every day? In fact, in the United States, there is about 394 times more field corn grown than there is sweet corn!

Field Cocorn-stalkrn

Field Corn, also known as dent corn, is the traditional corn that you see driving past cornfields. These are the very tall corn ears that you see harvested in the fall. Field corn is also referred to as dent corn because of the indent that each of the kernels get as the corn dries out. Dent corn is very dry and mainly used to make animal feed and ethanol, though it is also used for food processing. Some of the products that field corn can be made into include: corn meal, corn flour, whole grain corn flours, pregelatinized corn flours, corn grits, corn bran and yeast protein.

fresh-picked-corn[1]Sweet Corn

Sweet corn, on the other hand, is the type of corn that can be eaten off the cob. This type of corn is harvested much earlier in the growing season compared to field corn. Producers do this so the kernels stay moist and soft and good for eating! Not only is sweet corn much easier to eat, but it also has more natural sugar, which is why you can eat it right off the cob. Sweet corn is mainly used for human consumption – corn on the cob, canned corn and frozen corn; however in some cases it’s also used as silage – food for farm animals that is stored inside a silo.

So be sure to raise an ear in celebration of National Corn on the Cob Day tonight!

By: Brenda Oft, Grain Merchandiser at Didion Milling

Corn for a Cause

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May 28th was World Hunger Day, bringing awareness to the 805 million people worldwide that go to bed hungry every night.

For the last 20 years Didion Milling has been producing famine relief products for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This organization provides emergency food assistance and has several programs in place that help monitor food insecurity throughout the world, save lives in times of crisis, and tackle malnutrition. In fact, about 3 billion people from over 150 countries around the world have benefited from USAID’s food assistance programs!

Did you know that corn is an important ingredient in famine relief products? We produce a total of 6 different products, but our most common ones are Corn Soy Blend Plus and Super Cereal Plus. So far, these products are being delivered to parts of Southeast and West Africa, Central America, and parts of Asia.

Corn Soy Blend Plus: CSB Plus is a highly nutritious, wholesome blended food. This a precooked blend of cornmeal and soy flour enriched with a full complement of vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent choice for famine relief! This product is a finer granulation than our Corn Soy Blend and is usually used for children under two, lactating mothers or at risk AIDS patients.

Super Cereal Plus: Super Cereal Plus is another nutrient-dense corn and soy product. However this products differs form Corn Soy Blend Plus in its ingredients – this meal is made up of heat-treated corn or cornmeal, de-hulled soybeans, nonfat dry milk, refined soybean oil, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Super Cereal Plus is also designed to be ready-to-use and intended for young children under 2 years old as a complement to breastfeeding.

Chronic hunger affects more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined. Food assistance is one of the ways that we can start to lessen this problem.

To learn more about our partners on the frontline of the hunger fight, visit the following websites:

By: David Silver, Corporate Controller & USDA Program Coordinator

Raise Your Spoon

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Happy (belated) National Cereal Day!

At Didion, National Cereal Day is one of our favorite holidays. Why? Because many of our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products go into national cereal brands. Besides being naturally gluten-free and very cost-effective, corn brings a sweet, nutty flavor and gives cereal that crispy crunch.

Last year on national cereal day, we shared with you what certain corn products bring to the table as cereal ingredients. This year we’re going to dive a bit deeper into one specific product – corn bran.

Made from the outer layer of the corn kernel, corn bran is a low-calorie, low-fat food that offers numerous health benefits. It is a great source of protein and B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Corn bran also allows for the addition of consistent, high-quality, total dietary fiber. This insoluble fiber is a food-grade, chemical-free, natural product that is light in color with a slightly nutty taste. It’s the perfect fiber additive: a low-fat, low-cost alternative to other grain fiber products.

So next time you’re enjoying a delicious bowl of cereal, take a peek at the ingredients. Maybe your favorite cereal has some Didion corn bran in it!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Feeding & Fueling the World Together

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Zoey Brooks, Wisconsin’s 67th Alice in Dairyland, visited Didion Milling and Ethanol on Tuesday morning to learn about how locally-grown corn is processed into food, feed and fuel products that are used in our local communities, across the country and around the world.

As Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, Alice in Dairyland strives to educate audiences across Wisconsin about the $59 billion economic impact and importance of our state’s diverse agriculture industry in our daily lives. Corn, as Wisconsin’s second largest agricultural commodity by cash receipts, is an important part of Alice in Dairyland’s story.

Zoey took a stroll down fermentation alley in the ethanol plant, inspected samples in Didion’s labs and explored various granulations of milled corn. While touring our facilities, she learned how corn is fractionated in our dry corn mill, then sorted for its best use in food and fuel production. For more information about how we maximize the kernel of corn in our two facilities, check out the Corn Milling 101 series on our blog.

During her year as Alice in Dairyland, Zoey drives a flex-fuel vehicle wrapped in graphics promoting ethanol production. Here are some of facts she shares about ethanol as she fuels up with E85 during her travels around the state:

  1. Provides a lot of jobs. A study done by ABF Economics found that the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2013 created 86,503 jobs and supported an additional 300,277 indirect and induced jobs.
  2. Lower cost of fuel for everyone. A report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University found that ethanol supplying about 10 percent of our fuel has reduced the price at the pump by more than $1.00 per gallon.
  3. More than fuel. One bushel of corn (56 lbs.) can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17-18 pounds of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). These are an important co-product of ethanol production and a common livestock feed.
  4. Improves the air quality of motor emissions. A study from the University of Nebraska found that ethanol reduces emissions by almost 60 percent.
  5. Decreases U.S. dependence on imported petroleum. Since 2008 net petroleum imports have fallen by one third and are continuing to decrease to the lowest level in 20 years.

Click here to learn more about Alice in Dairyland.

By: Adam Lemmenes, Plant Manager at Didion Ethanol

The Customer Service Experience

As Didion’s customer service manager, my personal goal is to make every one of our customers feel like number one. Whether they purchase one pallet of HarvestGold® corn products every three months or three loads of product in one day, each customer is important to me and Brenda Link, our customer service specialist.

The customer service team of Karyn (left) and Brenda (right)

The customer service team: Karyn (left) and Brenda (right)

I’ve been at Didion for seven years and every day is different – a phone call or email can change the flow of the entire day.

Generally, we start off every morning on a call with the sales and marketing team, followed by a production meeting with employees from maintenance, mill, quality assurance, pack, engineering and company president Dow Didion.

We’re also constantly monitoring and acknowledging orders for products, using our updated system Orders@DidionMilling.com. As the number and volume of orders increased, we updated our email system so that all orders were compiled into one place. However it still has that personal touch – our commitment to our customers is that Brenda or I will personally acknowledge every order.

Our main focus every day is our customers’ needs. We want our customers to come to us for anything they need – even if we don’t know the answer right away, we’ll do everything in our power to find out for them.

We’re proud that customer service is one of the things that set us apart. Great people, excellent products and exceptional service – that’s the Didion Difference.

By: Karyn Hickman, Customer Service Manger at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: IFT ’14 Part 2

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Jeff, Riley & I at the Didion booth

Another IFT is in the books! Though this wasn’t my first time at the show, it was my first time attending IFT as part of the Didion team. I enjoyed talking with attendees about our new yeast protein products and their potential in the food and flavor industry.

We also had some great conversations focused on the newest addition to our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products, whole grain corn flour. It was the featured product in our Big Easy Breakfast Beignet, a special corn ingredient application we created for the IFT show in New Orleans. As Jeff mentioned last week, the beignets were made fresh at the booth by renowned New Orleans chef Frank Sclafani. The beignets were so popular that we actually ran out before the show was over!

If you weren’t able to make the show or try our Big Easy Breakfast Beignet, take a look at this video of Chef Frank and Jeff as they make and sample this delicious twist on a New Orleans classic.

By: Chris Gudaitis, Business Development Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: IFT ’14 Part 1

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Day 2 of IFT is in full swing here at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans! Riley, Chris, Katie and I are at booth 4248, talking whole grain and how Didion takes a fresh look a corn.

Renowned chef Frank Sclafani is also at our booth, serving up Didion’s twist on a New Orleans classic – the Big Easy Breakfast Beignet.

Crispy, savory and healthy, it features andouille sausage, onion, celery and red bell pepper and is served with a creamy mustard sauce or remoulade. This savory whole grain breakfast beignet features Didion’s HarvestGold® whole grain corn flour and corn bran, while the mustard sauce contains our corn bran and pregelatinized corn flour and the remoulade includes corn bran.

If you’re at IFT this week be sure to stop by and see us for an authentic New Orleans breakfast.

Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for live updates from the show.

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

A Tribute to Dads Who Make a Difference

Father’s Day is a time to recognize and celebrate our dads and other male leaders in our families. A family-owned business provides the opportunity to recognize and celebrate these family role models in our lives every day.

John & Dow Didion

Brothers Dow and John Didion

More than 40 years ago my dad and my uncle started Didion Milling. The company today looks completely different than the company they started in the early 1970s. From grain elevators and corn milling to biofuels and beyond the company has gone through significant growth and changes. They have seen good times and challenging times, 8 different presidents and administrations and 4 major recessions.

Through all of the change that has taken place in the company and the country, the founding core values of John and Dow have remained steadfast. From the beginning they were never satisfied with status quo, continuously improving the process and the way industry could view grain merchandising. They were the first to load rail and barge in the state of Wisconsin and assisted in creating an export market for Wisconsin farmers. That same passion has continued today through the combination of our mill and biofuels plant. Their passion for the industry, the farmers and the team at Didion has been a constant and contagious presence that has allowed for a company in South Central Wisconsin to impact lives throughout the world.

As a son and nephew, an employee and a team member, I am most proud of their integrity in how they have led the company.  Life and business will continually present opportunities and challenges and it is the way that we respond to those challenges that matters most. Having the integrity to do the right thing can be difficult, but it’s essential for creating an atmosphere of trust, respect and growth.

To my dad, uncle and all of the other men out there who make are making a difference, Happy Fathers Day!!

By: Riley DidionSales Manager at Didion Milling

A Corny Kickoff to Grilling Season

Memorial Day weekend is the big kick off to grill-out season; a time filled with barbecues, family get-togethers, burgers and Didion’s favorite thing – corn!Charcoal-Grill-embers

There are many ways that you and your family can enjoy corn this summer: corn on the cob, cornbread, hushpuppies and . . . charcoal?

Yes it’s true! When you get the charcoal out to grill you’re using corn, usually in the form of pregelatinized (precooked) yellow corn flour. Corn is commonly used in charcoal as a binding agent to help the briquettes retain their shape so they’re easy to use.

Next time you’re grilling a burger or steak ’til it’s just right, remember the crucial part that corn played in your grilled perfection.

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: Great Lakes IFT

logoGreetings from Battle Creek, Michigan!

Trade show season has officially begun and Jeff and I are at the Great Lakes IFT Suppliers’ Exhibit, talking about our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products. We’d love to show you a sample of our products, including the newest product line addition – whole grain corn flour.

If you’re in town for the show, stop by and see us! We’ll be at booth #18.

To learn more about Great Lakes IFT, visit their website.

By: Riley DidionSales Manager at Didion Milling

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Corn Milling 101 Part 5: Corn Properties in Baking

Corn flour is an important ingredient in many foods found on the shelves of your local grocery store. Why is it so great?

Three types of corn are commonly used as a bakery ingredient: yellow corn, white corn and alkali-processed corn. We’ll focus on the type that Didion processes – yellow dent corn.CornBreadMuffins_DT

Yellow corn flour’s short-texture proteins give baked goods a crumblier feel than traditional wheat flour. Corn also adds a sweet, nutty flavor to recipes – perfect for breads, muffins or adding in to other recipes.

In addition to taste and texture properties, yellow corn flour has a number of health benefits for those who require a gluten-free diet. Corn is naturally gluten-free – because it does not contain gliaden or glutenin, the two specific wheat proteins that have been shown to cause sensitivity to gluten. Yellow corn flour brings protein and starch to recipes without causing sensitivity, making them perfect for gluten-free baking.

It has great taste, texture and nutritional benefits. It is a simple, recognizable ingredient on nutrition labels. No wonder yellow corn flour is found in many products on your grocery store shelves. It’s naturally good, made great!

By: Todd Giesfeldt, Mill R&D Senior Manager

Tales From the Road: Petfood Forum

Pet Food Forum
Greetings from Chicago! I’m excited to be at my first show with Didion, the 2014 Petfood Forum, introducing Didion’s new line of yeast products harvested from our ethanol fermentation process.

Kibble Kick is a yeast protein that enhances the taste profile of pet foods, while delivering vitamins, trace minerals, digestible proteins and amino acids. It is highly palatable and helps promote healthy skin and shiny coats.

ThriveStock is a high-quality livestock feed ingredient that provides digestible proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals along with distiller’s yeast and fermentative nutrients. It aids digestive tract function and promotes immune function.

Riley and I had a great day yesterday and are looking forward to day 2 of the show – stop by and visit us at booth #638!

By Chris Gudaitis, Business Development Manager at Didion Milling

A Pot O’HarvestGold

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Irish legends about Leprechauns and their pots of gold remind us of our very own pot of gold – that is, HarvestGold. Have you ever wondered where the brand name “HarvestGold” comes from? Mama Didion was Irish, but our Celtic heritage wasn’t the main inspiration for this name.

Harvest alludes to the personal relationships we have with local farmers. Our knowledgeable grain procurement team watches the markets and works closely with local farmers to make the best corn marketing decisions. We purchase grain directly from farmers as much as we can because we know that leads to greater profitability for farmers and higher quality products for our customers.

Gold refers to both the rich golden color of our corn products and the gold quality standards we uphold. Our quality assurance team has rigorous and comprehensive product testing procedures. Learn more in Corn Milling 101 Part 4: Product Quality Tests.

Unlike the hidden pots of gold in Irish legends, Didion HarvestGold corn products can be found all over, in both food and industrial products. Didion’s corn ingredients can be found in your favorite cereals, snacks, baked goods, cornbread and muffin mixes, pizza, breadings and batters. Didion corn grits are also used in the brewing industry as an ingredient in many local and national beer brands.

There are many industrial uses for corn as well. Corn is used in foundry molds for sinks and bathtubs and helps hold the shape of charcoal briquettes and plywood. It is also used as a carrier in the production of cat litter and rodent control products.

Whether you enjoy a Pot O’HarvestGold or a green beer, we wish you the luck of the Irish as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.

Slainte!

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager at Didion Milling

Happy National Cereal Day!

Didion Cereal Landscape

Did you know that the first breakfast cereal was invented in the United States way back in 1863? James Caleb Jackson came up with ‘Granula’ – bran-rich graham flour shaped into nuggets and soaked in milk overnight before being eaten.

Today there are hundreds of cereals for consumers to choose from, our favorites of course being the many that count corn as an ingredient. Besides being naturally gluten-free and very cost-effective, corn brings a sweet, nutty flavor and gives cereal that crispy crunch. It’s also available in many forms:

Corn meal: produces the cereal’s uniform shape during extrusion cooking (the process that makes your cereal “puffy”)

Corn flour: gives the cereal the right texture

Corn bran: allows the cereal to be fortified with more dietary fiber

Whole grain corn meal/flour: gives all the nutrients and minerals along with fiber

So today on National Cereal Day, raise your spoons and enjoy a delicious bowl of your favorite cereal!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Corn Milling 101 Part 4: Product Quality Tests

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The quality of our corn products is very important to us. That’s why we perform extensive quality assurance, laboratory and gluten-free compliance testing during numerous stages of our corn processing.

For Quality Assurance (QA) testing, samples are first taken from the mill and tested every two hours to control output from the mill. Next, line samples are taken to check attributes as the final “package” is being filled – they can be bags, tote sacks, tank trucks or bulk rail cars. Finally, a composite sample of the finished lot is taken.

The QA testing program encompasses a variety of product attributes depending upon the application of the item. These laboratory tests include:

  • Granulation
  • Protein & fat
  • Crude fiber
  • Total dietary fiber
  • Ash
  • Titration for calcium
  • Moisture
  • Color – B value (yellow) & L value (brightness)
  • Viscosity
  • Microbiological testing
  • Mycotoxins

In addition to quality assurance and laboratory testing, gluten-free compliance testing is done on a regular basis. Although corn is naturally gluten-free, weekly tests are performed on Didion products to confirm that wheat is not present in whole corn from the harvest/storage/transport chain. This testing protocol confirms our gluten-free status and certification by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

We Believe in the Future of Agriculture

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Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

The National FFA Organization’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

This week marks the 66th annual FFA Week – an opportunity for FFA members, alumni and supporters to promote agricultural education and FFA itself. It’s a chance to share what being a part of FFA really means and the impact it has on members each and every day.

As an agribusiness, Didion appreciates the people that FFA helped build. In fact – they can be found in nearly every area of the company. A few of Didion’s FFA alumni shared their thoughts about how the organization has impacted them:

“I learned so many important things in FFA, including leadership and public speaking.”
– John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager

“FFA helped me lay the groundwork for my career. It’s so rewarding to help develop the next generation of agriculturalists by supporting local chapters.”
– Brenda Oft, Grain Merchandiser

“FFA was a great way to get involved in the community when I was in high school. I’m still friends with people that I met through the organization.”
– Ann Strelow, Scale Operator

“Through classes, Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) and contest teams FFA introduced me to a variety of careers in agriculture.”
– Garry Gard, Grain Manager

“My involvement in FFA helped shape my personal and professional development. The skills I developed as an FFA member are still helping shape my future as an agri-marketing professional.”
– Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager

“FFA fostered our interest in agriculture and helped us develop professional skills necessary for owning and running an agribusiness.” “Not only did FFA give us the tools to help make Didion a success, it also allowed us to hire great people.”
– John & Dow Didion, CEO & President

Didion is proud to support several local FFA chapters through sponsorships, scholarships and donations.

By: Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

An Ode to Corn

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Dear corn – yellow number two,
This is our heartfelt love letter to you.

Small and yellow,
Sweet little fellow;
Beloved local grain,
Grown in Green Lake, Columbia or Dane.

This wee kernel has a big job to do,
Destined to be food and fuel for you!
Adding fiber to granola bars,
Or putting gas into your cars.

Some like corn on the side of steak,
Some like corn in their cake.
Corn is perfect battered on a dog,
While at the fair or sitting on a log.

Corn for breakfast, corn for lunch,
Gee, we sure like corn a bunch!
Gluten-free and kosher too,
Is there anything this kernel can’t do?

So lift a glass of your favorite brew,
Made with corn grits just for you!
Let’s celebrate this grand little kernel,
To which we dedicate our love eternal.

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager at Didion Milling

Let Them Eat Cake

whitecake2It’s a new year and most of us have made resolutions to eat healthier. But it seems like we’ve just survived the holiday eating frenzy when . . . here comes Valentine’s Day, full of heart-shaped goodies.

However there is a simple way to add healthy value to foods without altering the taste – corn bran. It’s a natural and nutritious way to add whole grain appeal to food products and is a great source of fiber.

Corn bran allows for the addition of consistent, high-quality, total dietary fiber. This insoluble fiber is a food-grade, chemical-free, natural product that is light in color with a slightly nutty taste. It’s the perfect fiber additive: a low-fat, low-cost alternative to other grain fiber products.

But can you get that fiber without sacrificing flavor?

The National Corn Growers Association recently posted a great article on the subject via their blog Corn Commentary, called ‘Corn Bran Takes the Cake’.

It touched on the USDA’s research that found replacing 20 percent of flour in a classic white cake recipe with highly ground corn bran provided the optimal balance of fiber and flavor.

It turns out you really can have your cake and eat it too!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Didion Milling

Didion Named “Green Master”

Green-Masters-Logo-300x200Congratulations to Didion’s Green Team for being recognized as a Green Master at the 6th Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference!

Green Masters is Wisconsin’s largest and most-notable sustainability recognition program. It is an objective, points-based program enabling Wisconsin institutions of all sizes and industries to join a group of like-minded companies on the road to sustainability. Similar to the program name, the top 20% of applicants are called Green Masters. Other levels include Green Professional and Green Apprentice.

At Didion, we focus on constant improvement in energy efficiency and sustainability in operations. Didion Ethanol, a zero liquid discharge facility, recycles process water, using approximately 20 percent less water than the industry average with no direct discharge water into local waterways. Natural gas consumption is 5.8% lower than the industry average per unit of ethanol produced. Didion Milling reengineered its processes to reduce energy and steam usage by eliminating the need for some equipment.

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

In 2010, we pledged to the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over 10 years. Our sustainability team carefully monitors energy usage, streamlining processes and reducing energy demands while maintaining high quality and production standards.

It’s an honor to be recognized among the impressive group of companies in the program. We’re working towards an even more sustainable 2014!

By: Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

A Growing Culture, A Growing Workforce

It’s exciting to be part of an actively growing company and offer rewarding careers to local folks who are excited to help us feed and fuel the world. We’ve tripled production over the last three years and expect more growth in 2014. To meet increasing demand, we’re actively seeking employees for 14 new positions.

Our recent growth is largely due to expanding product lines and new or growing partnerships with food and industrial manufacturers. The ethanol production business unit is also experiencing growth with improved efficiency and exploration of new coproducts.

Just as our business has grown and evolved over time, so has our culture. We realized that we needed to shift our focus from products to people. We’re in business to develop great people first. Creating quality products from grain is secondary.

The changing culture has fostered more cross-functional teamwork and a front-line staff that is engaged in business decisions. Employees are empowered to hire their coworkers through a hiring team. They are the best evaluators of skills, character and cultural fit.

We are looking for driven team players with a desire to grow in the company’s dynamic culture. Positions are open across all areas of the business, including operations, maintenance, technology and management. Didion Milling is hosting career fairs to give potential employees an opportunity to meet the team and learn more about the company.

Career fairs are scheduled on Tuesday, January 28th at the Beaver Dam AmericInn and Wednesday, February 12th at the Portage Best Western. Both events are open from noon – 8 PM. More information is available at didionmilling.com/careers.

By: Chad Verges, Director of Human Development at Didion Milling

Crop Watch Season Finale: The Best Part

As the 2013 Crop Season comes to a close, so does our Crop Watch video series. In this final episode, you’ll get details on this year’s harvest and get overall reactions on the 2013 growing season.

Find out how our four farm families fared during harvest in the finale episode of Crop Watch!

By: Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

Gluten-Free, Naturally!

Corn is naturally gluten-free right off the stalk. That makes it the perfect ingredient in a wide variety of gluten-free applications. Corn can help increase protein levels and replace wheat protein functionality. Various grains and starches can be used to get gluten-free products closer to the desired functionality and taste profile of gluten-containing foods, but few are as cost effective and label friendly as corn.

Corn’s naturally gluten-free properties don’t guarantee that all corn products on the market are gluten free. Some are processed in a facility that handles gluten materials. Grains can become mixed to some degree in the distribution channel. It’s difficult for multi-grain manufacturers to make sure their products are wheat free. Corn, because of its distribution channel, has minimal risk of cross contamination; especially when manufactured in a gluten-free facility. Our quality assurance team tests products to make sure they’re within gluten-free guidelines as well as customer specifications.

Corn flours are a great candidate for gluten-free recipes, bringing protein and starch to the recipe. That makes it a great ingredient for pasta applications. Viscosity-controlled corn flour provides a more uniform product in kneading machines and automated dough processing equipment. Our pregels – corn flour that’s been heat and moisture treated to give it specific properties – have great binding properties and provides stabilizing functionality. It all depends on the formula you’re putting together.

Corn bran brings fiber to the label and aids in moisture retention with its high water-binding capacity. It binds water more efficiently compared to carbohydrates. It also keeps starch from leaching out during boiling.

What about corn gluten? It contains different proteins than wheat gluten. Wheat, like other cereal grains, contains more than 100 different proteins.  Two specific wheat proteins, gliaden and glutenin, have been shown to cause sensitivity. These two proteins are not found in corn. While there is a corn gluten protein, it has not been associated with the health issues caused by wheat gluten.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Nine Groups We’re Thankful for at Didion Milling

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Thanksgiving week is a time to express our thanks to those who have helped us grow and have made a difference in our lives.  This year we’d like to show special appreciation for nine groups of people who have made special efforts to help us get to where we are today.

9. National/Wisconsin Corn Growers Association

Our corn growers associations do a great job educating the public about the good things corn farmers do to produce the safest, healthiest, most efficient, abundant and sustainable corn crop in the world. We appreciate their support for food and fuel production with corn.

8. Renewable Fuels Association

We’re thankful for RFA as the authoritative voice for the ethanol industry. The organization’s continued efforts to expand markets for ethanol and promote friendly policies, programs and initiatives help us to continue growing our business.  Their work to improve public awareness about the benefits of renewable fuels is vital to our industry.

7. North American Millers’ Association 

NAMA enables its members to grow and prosper through education, advocacy, regulation, legislation, trade, supply and consumption. We are grateful for their efforts on behalf of the milling industry to promote the utilization and consumption of dry milled, grain-based products.

6. The local community

We appreciate the opportunity to do business in a rural community.  It has been a pleasure to get to know the people in the community and we’re happy to support them through our corporate programs and the Old Mill Foundation.

5. Strategic vender partners

We’re thankful for our vendor partners and their efforts to help us in our mission of constant improvement.  It has been a pleasure growing our businesses together.  We’re excited to see what the future brings working together!

4. Our producer partners

Local farmers have been at the core of our business since we opened our doors more than 40 years ago. We are proud to work with some of the most efficient and sustainable farmers in the world.  You inspire us to maximize the value of every kernel we process in our facilities and keep the value add in our communities. Click here to view our producer thank you video.

3. Our customers

We have the great pleasure to work with wonderful friends, our customers. It has been a joy to serve you and grow with you.  We are excited to see what new opportunities we can discover together in 2014!

2. Our families

Our staff families are a big part of our organization.  We sincerely appreciate your care and support as we work to achieve our goals. Thank you to all of the families that make up our Didion family – we couldn’t do it without you.

1. Our great people

Finally, we’re thankful for the great people we work with at Didion. Our employees are the heartbeat of the organization as we develop great people and make quality products from grain. We are thankful to employ people with shared core values. Thank you for your role in helping us feed and fuel the world.

May you and all your friends and family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

By John Didion, CEO of Didion Milling

Thank You, Farmers!

The holiday season is the perfect time to recognize those that help put food on America’s table. November 20 is “Thank a Farmer” Day, a time to honor the 22 million Americans who work on farms or in farm-related jobs.  Our farmers are extremely efficient – today the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people a day, both in the United States and abroad.  They achieve this while also using sustainable growing practices to preserve their cropland for the next generation of farmers.  At Didion, we are proud to partner with our producers to help feed and fuel the world.

For more information about Thank a Farmer Day, visit www.thankafarmer.org.

By Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: Relax – We’ve Got You Covered

Nov. Trade Show MapGreetings from Chicago! We’re wrapping up our fall trade shows this week with one last big hurrah before the holidays.

We’re at the Chicago Sectional IFT trade show today to visit with our friends in the Chicago area about our corn products. Shawn Nelson, our R&D Manager, will be joining us at this year’s show. We’re excited for you to meet him! Visit our contributing authors page to learn more about Shawn. He’ll be at booth #847 with me and John and Riley Didion.

Relax

Riley and I will fly from Chicago to Las Vegas tonight for SupplySide West. Visit us at booth #11041 where we’ll help you relax. Why? Because our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products is gluten free, kosher, FSSC 22000 certified, high in fiber, available in whole grain and keeps your label clean and easy to read. At Didion Milling, we’ve got you covered. Enter to win one of two SpaFinder.com gift cards at our booth. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the road!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Crop Watch Season Finale Trailer

Its harvest time in Wisconsin! Our Crop Watch farm families are busy combining their corn and we’re excited to share the results with you soon. With the close of the 2013 growing season comes the close of the 2013 Crop Watch video series. Stay tuned for the finale episode of Crop Watch coming soon! In the meantime, check out the finale episode trailer:

By: Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

Corn Milling 101 Part 3: Cleaning, Cracking & Sifting

The first step in corn processing is cleaning. We remove any cobs or stalks and sort out broken kernels using a screener and separator. Then the corn goes through a magnet to pull out any remaining foreign material. When the cleaning process is finished, the whole corn kernels should be all that’s left.

The clean, whole kernel corn is then sent to the tempering system to loosen the skin, otherwise known as bran or pericarp. A small amount of water is added to the corn and then it sits in a holding tank for a period of time.

After the skin has been loosened, the corn goes to Didion’s degermination system. The corn is cracked into large pieces. During this process, the loose skin comes off the kernel and the germ pops out. For more information on the parts of the corn kernel, check out Milling 101 Part 2: Where Our Food and Fuel Products Come From.

The fractionated pieces are sifted to sort out any fine, floury materials. These soft, starchy pieces are sent to our ethanol plant because they are optimal for fermentation. For more information on how we maximize every kernel of corn through the partnership between our dry corn mill and ethanol plant, check out Milling 101 Part 1: A Fresh Look at Corn Milling.

Next, the bran is removed using an aspiration system. Then it is transferred to its own system within the mill. The remaining starch goes through a series of grinding and sifting. Pieces are sorted using wire screens of various sizes to separate “unders” or “fines” from the “overs” and “select” pieces. These terms refer to where the pieces sit on the wire screens during sifting.

The fines go to the ethanol plant for fermentation while the overs and select pieces are used to make food products in the dry corn mill. Our millers prefer the select size pieces, which is a nice center cut of the kernel. These “center cut” pieces are made from the hard starch. This enables our millers to make a very consistent finished product for customers and product consumers. This is part of the Didion Difference.

By: Curt Miller, Corn Milling Operations Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: Minnesota IFT

It’s that time of year again! Jeff and I are pounding the pavement this fall on our trade show road trip.

Minnesota IFT

Next stop: Minneapolis, MN for the Minnesota IFT Suppliers’ Night on Tuesday, Oct. 22 from 1-5 PM. If you’re in town for the show, please stop by! We will be at booth #429.

We have so much to share with you at the show – from our recent Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 to new product opportunities across our line of corn products. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information about Minnesota IFT, visit their website.

By: Riley Didion, Sales Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: Talkin’ Corn at Longhorn

Riley and I dusted off our boots and traveled to Texas for Longhorn IFT. If you’re headed to the show today, please stop by booth #267 and say howdy!

Fwd: LIFT August Kickoff Social EventWe are excited to share all the exciting things going on at Didion – from our new whole grain capabilities to our recent gluten-free certification and Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information about Longhorn IFT, visit their website.

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

We’ve Achieved a Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000!

Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 is a comprehensive food safety management system. It incorporates the ideals of continuous improvement and prevention to develop a proactive and effective food safety plan. FSSC 22000 is one of four Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety schemes and is the only ISO-based system. FSSC 22000 was selected of the four acceptable GFSI schemes due to Didion’s short-term plans to achieve certification in other ISO-based systems.

FSSC 22000 encompasses two standards, ISO 22000:2005 (Management system) and ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 (Prerequisite programs), but in itself really is a three-part system.
• Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
• Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
• Management System

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
Risk analysis of ingredient and production processes

HACCP is a systematic, preventative approach to food safety that uses the idea of hazard analysis to identify physical, chemical and biological hazards/risks associated with a food manufacturing process. Hazards identified in the HACCP plan are assessed for severity and likelihood to determine the risk associated. Risk is then mitigated through the incorporation of control programs (PRPs), which when monitored and validated for effectiveness, ensure product safety to the greatest possible efficacy.

Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
Programs in place as foundation of the HACCP plan to mitigate risks

Prerequisite programs (PRPs) are a series of in-depth programs that provide the foundation for the food safety program and are standard practices necessary to ensure safe products. Prerequisite programs provide the groundwork for the entire system and are also the real driving force behind the food safety program based upon the HACCP plan.

Management System
System focused on the management and assurance of food safety

The management system ensures the necessary processes, resources, approach and culture are in place to support the food safety system.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Going Whole Grain

Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy food products and food manufacturers are continuing to invest in research and development to meet this need. Why? Many people consume too calories and too much sugar, fat and sodium.

Among these changing product formulations is the use of whole grains. The USDA recommends that half of all grains consumed be whole grains but most Americans are barely eating one serving of whole grain per day and nine out of ten Americans aren’t getting enough whole grain.

Research shows that eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet can improve heart health, weight management and diabetes management, while reducing risks of some cancers. Additional studies have shown that children and adolescents that eat cereal for breakfast have a lower Body Mass Index and waist circumference than those who don’t eat cereal at breakfast or who skip breakfast.

Many cereal companies are trying to include whole grain more than any other ingredient at a minimum level of 10 grams per serving up to 16 grams per serving.

Another area American diets fall short is in fiber consumption. Dietary fiber is important to digestive health and can help curb hunger. Some research suggests that people who have a higher intake of fiber also tend to have a healthier body weight.

The FDA and USDA are creating new goals to improve health and nutrition claim criteria for food products. Food reformulations are also changing because food processors are responding to USDA standards for K-12 school meals, which include meeting whole grain requirements.

Consumers are reading food labels more than ever, so food manufacturers are asking for more recognizable, label-friendly ingredients, like corn.

In response to this, Didion Milling has added whole grain to their family of corn products, specifically made for the cereal market.

Another emerging whole grain need is adding fiber from whole grain ingredients into foods that people are already eating, rather than creating new whole-grain-based foods. This is especially prevalent in cereals and snack foods, both popular applications for Didion’s dry milled corn.

Whole grain corn is an economical, label-friendly way to add whole grain to products. To learn more about Didion’s whole grain corn flour visit our website.

By: Riley Didion, Sales Manager at Didion Milling

Corn Milling 101 Part 2: Where Our Food & Fuel Products Come From

Food and fuel start with the corn kernel and its four unique parts: the endosperm, pericarp, germ and tip cap. We use those four parts of the corn kernel to make grits, meals, flours, brans, pregelatinized flours and whole grain corn flours; as well as ethanol.

Parts of the kernel

Endosperm – The endosperm carries most of the dry weight of the kernel. This part of the kernel contains starch, which is commonly used in food. The endosperm provides the starch necessary to produce sugar molecules for ethanol production. Products that come from this part are grits, meals and flours. Flour is the finest out of all three products made from the endosperm and grits are coarsest.

Pericarp – This part is the outer covering of the kernel that shields it from bugs. It also preserves the nutrient value of the inside. The pericarp is used for corn bran found in everyday foods.

Germ – The germ is the only living part of the kernel and is the centermost piece. This part stores genetic information, enzymes, vitamins and minerals for the kernel so it can grow when it is on the ear. Twenty-five percent of the germ is oil, making it one of the most valuable parts of the kernel.

Tip cap – This part attaches the kernel to the cob. Water and nutrients flow through here to help the kernel alive.

Whole kernel – We grind the whole corn kernel down to a specific granulation to make our whole grain corn flour.

By: Dow Didion, President of Didion Milling

Crop Watch Episode #3: Where Corn is Comfortable

In this episode of Crop Watch, we will visit all four of our farmers to learn how their crops are faring this summer and get an update on crop pollination.

Our next episode will feature all four farms and their on-farm storage systems and corn marketing plans.

Listed below are definitions to some of the terms that will be brought up in this episode:

  • Tasseling – Emergence of the male flowers at the top of the corn stalk that pollinate the ear, creating corn kernels
  • Pollination – The transfer of pollen from the male flowers on the tassel to the female silk to form corn kernels
  • Silking – Pollinated silks form from the ear to fertilize each potential corn kernel. Each corn kernel on the cob has its own silk strand

For more information about corn pollination visit the UW-Extension website.

By: Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

Putting & Produce – Didion Gives Back to the Local Community

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Al Ogorzalek, New Berlin, Wis., hit a hole-in-one on the Ballweg Implement-sponsored hole 10 to win a John Deere XUV550 S4 Gator. Al is pictured with his wife Mary Claire Lanser.

Didion Milling hosted the seventh annual Old Mill Foundation Golf Outing on July 26 at the Fox Lake Golf Club. A new record was set this year, raising more than $15,000 for the Old Mill Foundation. Brenda Oft, grain merchandiser at Didion Milling, organized the fundraiser. This year’s event saw its first hole-in-one contest winner, Al Ogorzalek of New Berlin, Wis. He hit a hole-in-one on the Ballweg Implement-sponsored hole 10 to win a John Deere XUV550 S4 Gator.

IMG_6898The Old Mill Foundation was founded in 2006 to give back to the community of Cambria through support of local nonprofit organizations that work to enhance the lives of the Village of Cambria, Township of Courtland and the Cambria-Friesland School District. Cambria Fire Department, Cambria-Friesland School, Cambria-Friesland Youth Football Team and the Cambria Pool Fun Committee are a few such organizations that have benefited from the Old Mill Foundation’s numerous donations and scholarships.

Didion Milling’s summer food drive had an overwhelming response, as employees donated 373 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Cambria Bread Basket to help fight local hunger. Didion Milling and Alsum Farms and Produce of Friesland, Wis. generously matched employee contributions by donating fresh produce. This resulted in more than 1,000 pounds of food to stock the local food pantry for families in need.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Extension, hunger affects 1 in 11 households in Wisconsin, or approximately 560,000 people. The food donated has fed people not just in the Cambria community, but other communities in the area such as Columbus and Beaver Dam.

By: Chad Verges, Director of Human Development at Didion Milling

A Look Back at IFT 2013

We had a great time at IFT last week, which took place at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Our 2013 theme, “Take a Fresh Look at Corn,” challenged attendees to see corn in a new light.

A move to high-fiber, gluten-free, easily-understood foods and other consumer-asked-for product features are having a growing influence on the food industry. Our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products help food companies meet these growing consumer demands.

Sales of high-fiber snack bars and cereals have risen in recent years with the high-fiber market expected to reach $28 billion by 2017. Likewise, the gluten substitute food and beverage industry, already a $2.7 billion business, is expected to grow to $4.3 billion over the next five years, according to Datamonitor.

Our unique IFT food sample, the Didion Corn Pup, was created by a gourmet chef as an update to the American classic corn dog. They included three Didion products: corn meal, corn bran and viscosity-controlled corn flour, making them not only high fiber but gluten-free! And no Corn Pup would be complete without our special high-fiber caramel and brown mustard sauce.

Check out this video of our Customer Service Manager, Karyn Hickman, making a batch of Didion Corn Pups at our IFT booth.

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Take a Fresh Look at Corn at IFT Booth #1349!

Day two of IFT is just about to begin! Check out how we are taking a fresh look at corn at booth #1349 in the Healthy Foods Pavilion.

photo 3Our chef Anthony is serving up our very own Didion Corn Pups, a crunchy, smoky-sweet and spicy take on a summer classic made with our corn meal, corn bran and viscosity-controlled corn flour. The corn pups will be served with a tangy, sweet, caramel mustard sauce that has more fiber than the average dipping sauce.

If you are at IFT this week, join us for a corn pup and conversation about how we are taking a fresh look at corn!

Watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds for trade show updates.

By: Riley Didion, Sales Manager at Didion Milling

Corn Milling 101 Part 1: A Fresh Look at Corn Milling

Didion-DifferenceOur passion is to provide the highest quality corn products for our customers. The corn we process goes into the products our families eat every day. That’s something we’re very proud of. That passion has carried us through 40 years in business and will continue to drive us for years to come. By hiring great people, innovating to produce excellent products and continuing to focus on exceptional service, we keep looking for ways to reinvent the way we do business. That’s the Didion Difference!

Overall, the U.S. dry corn milling business grows one percent to two percent per year, so our unique approach to corn milling is our key to being competitive in the domestic market. We’ve grown because of our sustainable business model – built on the synergy between our facilities. The dry corn mill and ethanol plant need complementary inputs, enabling us to glean the greatest value from every piece of every corn kernel that passes through our facilities. We carefully select the best parts of the kernel for food production and use the rest to make homegrown biofuels. The consistent input and constant innovation drive efficiency and sustainability in both facilities. This results in high-quality finished products for our customers.

Our small size and family-owned mentality have given us an edge because we can respond quickly to market demands and customize products to customer needs. It all comes back to our passion for maximizing every kernel of corn that passes through our facilities. That passion inspires us to take a fresh look at corn milling every day. At Didion, innovation is a way of life. And we’ll never be done improving.

Milling 101 is a six part series about Didion’s unique approach to corn milling, our products and quality standards. 

By: John Didion, CEO of Didion Milling

Crop Watch Episode #1: Three Weeks Late

Check out our summer video series “Crop Watch”. Follow the series this summer to meet four of our local farm families and track their crop’s progress through the growing season.

Episode #1: Three Weeks Late – Meet the Wingers and Minick Families and get first-hand stories about 2013 spring planting.

Stay tuned for the next episode where you’ll meet the Kelleys and the Schroeders.

By: Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling