How We Make Our Lefse
Good potatoes are the most important ingredient for making fine lefse. A blend of red and white potatoes (about 1000 pounds a day) are brought in from the potato bin. Dry land potatoes are used for a special reason. Granrud's Lefse uses about 84,000 pounds of potatoes every season.
When it comes to peeling tators, this machine is a real time saver. It can peel five gallons of potatoes in about three minutes.
When the Granrud's Lefse is in full production, there seems like a never-ending supply of potatoes. After the potatoes are run through the machine, they are sent on to the potato workers who check for eyes before they are cut up and cooked.
After the potatoes are cooked, they are put into a giant mixer with the other ingredients and beaten until smooth and silky. These are by far the best tasting mashed potatoes one can ever taste! The potatoes are then scooped into six-quart buckets which are set on racks to cool down a bit before refrigerating. . .
The potatoes are now cooled down and ready to be made into lefse. So into another mixer they go with some flour. They are mixed up, then stuffed into the tubes. It takes just the right amount of flour and mixing time for this station. The dough can get too sticky or dry if not mixed right.
There is a tube beside each station. Alma is working at this one. The full tube is emptied by a ratcheting mechanism that allows about 1/4 inch of dough to be sliced off at a time. There are about 65 rounds per tube. The stuffing person has their work cut out keeping the rest of the workers in "dough".
Pneumatic pressure then lifts the table enabling the rollers to make contact with the dough. The tables are rotating as the dough is rolled out. As a round is rolling on one table, the operator is preparing another round on the next table and the fryer picks up the finished round on the third table.
The paper-thin rounds are very carefully picked off the tables with wooden dowels, as they are fragile and can tear easily. They are rolled off the sticks onto the hot grills where they are quickly fried on each side. The lefse must be watched closely as it can burn easily. There is one fryer per two rolling machines, so timing is crucial.
After the frying process is completed the rounds are transferred to the cooling conveyor. While the lefse is hot it is still very fragile so it must be handled gently. This is when the lefse tastes best: "Hot off the grill."
Transferred from the grill to the cooling conveyor (see picture at left), the lefse has about a five minute journey to the pick-up table. The conveyor consists of five rows of belts offset from each other, with every other belt running in the opposite direction. A fan pulls in cool outside air from one end of the table blowing it throughout the table. The picture shows a freshly dropped piece of lefse that came from the conveyor to the pick-up table. The lefse is about to the end of its journey.
The lefse is transferred from the pick-up table to the packaging table and one pound of lefse is put into each bag. Once filled, the racks are rolled into the freezer. About 560 packages are processed each day, and a little over 55,000 packages a year.
Once frozen, the lefse is boxed and prepared for shipping. Sixteen packages go into a box and make up a case. The lefse is shipped to all 50 states.
A typical day at Granrud's Lefse will find 10 women and men working. These men and women work hard every day to produce a quality product.