News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital



For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Social Issues

No matter how you slice it, Ohio's cheese makes the cut
Artisan and farmstead cheese makers in Ohio are winning prizes and customers
This story is part of a special series.

Vivian Goodman
This was West Point Market of Akron's first cheese tasting event and it featured 30 artisan cheeses including many made in Ohio.
Courtesy of Ed Duvall
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

It’s time for partiers to rock and cheese balls to roll. 

Anyway you slice it, cheese is a holiday staple. 

Americans buy 20 percent more of it during the season, but all year long Ohioans appetite for cheese has been ripening.

LISTEN: Ohio's specialty cheese

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (5:05)

“Cheese is a very popular product. Everybody likes cheese.” 

Brian Moran of Lake Erie Creamery says holidays are great, but Ohio cheese makers are of good cheer all year long. 

Moran’s creamery has won national awards for its Blomma.  

Which is a blooming rind goat cheese, aged at about three to four weeks before it comes to market, similar to a Camembert or a brie. ” 

A cheese boom
Moran’s Cleveland operation was Ohio’s first artisan cheese creamery. It opened in 2006. By 2007 he had five competitors, and today there are 20.

And I know for a fact there are at least three or four getting ready to open either at the end of this year or the beginning of next. The big boom is the local food. People want to know where their food comes from, and I think that is the biggest driver for it.”

A Specialty Food Association survey shows “local” is the biggest cheese trend of 2013. 

And Ohioans don’t have to travel far for award-winning cheese. 

Hiram’s MacKenzie Creamery claimed 13 national awards in its first four years in business. 

Owner Jean MacKenzie is proudest of the goat cheese she makes with cognac and figs. 

“Our little star we call her. Courvoisier cognac and dalmatia figs. And this little cheese has won five of our 13 awards, this one cheese.”

More local cheeses at the grocers
West Point Market stocks MacKenzie’s product along with many of Ohio’s artisan cheeses.

Its cheese shop carries 350 varieties from all over the world, and in the last five years has doubled its supply of locally-made cheeses. 

Diana Bole ran the quality grocer’s cheese shop for 27 years. She thinks customers are getting more discerning. 

“A lot of them would never taste a goat cheese, not ever. And now with the sampling that we do, washed-rind cheeses which are strong and stinky, where five years ago you couldn’t sell, people will try it now.” 

Amanda Zazo and John Griffith of West Akron came to the cheese-tasting ready for adventure. Griffith hadn’t expected so many locally-produced cheeses. 

“But come to think of it, with all of the local farms and cow farms, sheep, the fantastic products are there. So why not?” 

“My favorite was the goat cheese coated in espresso and lavender,” said Zazo.

But that one came from Wisconsin, the mecca of American cheese-making. 

On Wisconsin, but Ohio’s not far behind
Bob Dilcher of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board brought it to the tasting from the state that produces nearly half of America’s specialty cheese. But he has respect for Ohio cheese. 

“There’s some great goat cheeses, some great sheep’s milk cheeses from Ohio. Brewster Cheese in Brewster, Ohio, one of the largest Swiss cheese manufacturers in the country. Terrific Swiss cheese.” 

People are eating more cheese, period. In 1970, the average American ate 8 pounds a year. Today it’s 23 pounds. 

But what is this “artisanal” cheese? 

It’s produced by hand in small batches from cow, sheep and goat’s milk  and often has to be aged and ripened. 

One-woman show
Some producers raise their own animals, like Kristyn Henslee of Seville’s Yellow House Cheese. Hers is a farmstead operation.  

“That means that everything happens start to finish on our farm. I milk the sheep myself, we make the cheese there, we age it there and sell everything from the farm. I’m kind of a one-woman show. I also have a husband whose a sixth-grade science teacher, so he’s home during the summers to help out. And I have two little girls 8 and 9 who are my absolute super-star helpers.” 

Her sheep’s milk blue cheese won an American Cheese Society award in August. And she only started her business two years ago. 

Of the 20 artisan cheese makers in Ohio, 16 are women. 

Small but award-winning
Henslee’s farm is small and so is  Brian Schlotter’s in Defiance. His  family has been dairy farming for six generations. 

Six years ago, after graduating college, Schlotter started making cheese.

His Canal Junction Charloe, winner of an American Cheese Society award, is his own creation. 

The first bite tastes buttery and sweet, but then it gets nutty. 

“We don’t have any peanuts in the production whatsoever. It is from the milk and the way we handle the cheese afterward in the aging.” 

He’s optimistic about the future of artisan cheese making in Ohio. He knows Wisconsin has years on Ohio, and admits that’s a challenge. 

“If you look at the cheese makers in Ohio, the small cheese makers in Ohio most of them are complete newbies to the industry both the dairy and the cheese-making side.”  

But he thinks Ohio will catch up. Wisconsin has long had a Master Cheese Maker program. 

But in Ohio, where do you find the way -- and the curds? 

The Cheese Guild
MacKenzie Creamery’s Jean MacKenzie found herself asking that question.

She worked in real estate for many years before she started making cheese. Her business sense told her a trade organization was needed. So she recently founded the Ohio Cheese Guild.  

“We have a representative from a distribution company; we have a chef; we have a retailer. We have cheese makers from small creameries and from large companies. We want to include, we call them the big boys, because we can learn a lot from them.” 

Kristyn Henslee of Seville’s Yellow House Cheese was one of the first to join the new guild. She’s not turning a profit yet but…  

“We’re working on it. We’re making really great cheeses, and we’re just really hopeful that this is going to work out.”  

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Next week our topic is the mislabeling of fish. 

(Click image for larger view.)

Related WKSU Stories

Sustainable agriculture and artisan cheese at Lucky Penny Creamery and Farm
Friday, June 14, 2013

WKSU's Quick Bites gets your goat
Friday, January 6, 2012

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Kasich campaign evokes dark images of a Trump presidency

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University