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!

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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.

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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:

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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

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