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!

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!

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

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

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

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: Petfood Forum

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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!

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