BEALLSVILLE, Ohio – To be prosperous in the dairy industry since 1867 means the Scheiderer family must be doing things right.
And maybe what they do right is love their jobs and look for ways to sustain themselves for future generations.
The family moved their closed Jersey herd to Beallsville, Ohio, in Monroe County in 1977, and matriarch Dixie Scheiderer said the family feels lucky that in a time when small family farms are disappearing, theirs is still going strong.
New venture. To ensure Buckeye Grove Jersey Farm is there for the sixth generation of Scheiderers, Dixie and her husband, Albert “Jake,” decided to add cheese making to their resume.
After years of reading, studying and training, the Scheiderers were licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2004 and Buckeye Grove Farm Cheese was created.
“We went to Vermont, New York and even Canada to learn from cheese makers from all over the world. We wanted our farmhouse cheese to be of the Old World style,” Dixie said.
Dixie and Jake’s son, Al, and his wife, Renae, now own and manage the family’s herd, which allows Dixie and Jake to concentrate on cheese making.
In their first year, they more than surpassed their goals by producing and selling more than 4,000 pounds of cheese.
The cheeses. They make seven kinds of farmhouse cheese – Beufor Knight, Gouda Borenkaase, Young Gouda, Hill Folk Jersey, Munsterzilla, Penn Brick and French Emment.
The flavors range in very mild, like the Hill Folk Jersey the Scheiderers use to make grilled cheese sandwiches, to very strong like the Munsterzilla, is a cheese they serve with beef.
In Ohio, there are only a handful of producers of farmhouse cheese, cheese made by a farmer using only the milk from his cows.
Their natural cheese production license from the department of agriculture allows them to use unpasteurized milk in their cheese-making process.
Healthy herd. The Scheiderers attribute the success of their cheese business to the Grade A milk produced by their Jerseys. They have a birth-to-death record for every cow, and the entire herd is brucellosis vaccinated and the herd is certified TB free since 1960.
The herd is also enrolled in the state’s program for Johne’s disease and leukosis (a form of bovine cancer) testing every year.
“We love our cows and keep them as healthy and happy as possible,” Dixie said. “We allow them to live gently, producing milk for the public while minimally impacting the environment.”
The herd’s main forage is natural grasses and clover that is native to the area.
“Grasses are the natural food for cattle and provide outstanding nutrients for milk products,” she added.
How it’s made. There are several steps to producing farmhouse cheese.
Unpasteurized Jersey milk is delivered to the cheese house within a few minutes after milking. It is still warm when it arrives into the cheese vat. The milk is never cooled first, as it is in commercial cheese production.
Te* * * are taken to determine how much cheese starter and rennet is used and milk quality te* * * are run for udder health and antibiotics, and butterfat solids.
Proper cheese culture and rennet are introduced into the milk, which has been tempered according to the kind of cheese to be made. Nothing other than salt is added to the cheeses.
After a gel mass forms, large stainless cheese cutters are hand pushed in the cheese vat. The cutters cut the curd and prepare it for whey expulsion.
The whey is not wasted; it is used as fertilizer.
Heating and hand stirring are done for specific recipe directions, then the heated curd is placed into molds and put to press.
Pressing may take only a few hours or much longer. Acidity te* * * are run continuously from the time the milk arrives until after pressing.
The big yellow cheeses are then placed into a special brine solution to wait for its time to be removed and dried, then the cheese is placed into the cool long-aging room.
Hand waxing of the cheeses takes place after a couple of weeks and then the waxed wheels are placed back into the cool long-aging room to await flavor development. All aging, by law, must be at least 60 days.
State inspectors regularly sample the cheeses. The Scheiderers also have a private, certified lab that checks the cheeses when needed.
The Scheiderers produce anywhere from 300 to 450 pounds of cheese a week. Production is stopped in January and February, because of taste differences in milk produced during the winter months, or in July and August if heat and humidity affect the production process.
“We have three recipes for each cheese depending on which season we’re making it,” Dixie said.
The Scheiderers open their cheese house each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other times by appointment. (See adjacent listing for other ways to buy Buckeye Grove Farm Cheese.)
Finding Buckeye Grove