Celebrating Cheese Lovers Day with a NE Iowa Cheese Maker
It’s national cheese lovers’ day, which means if you’re a cheese lover-it’s the perfect excuse to celebrate with a cheesy dish… if you even needed an excuse.
In 2020, total cheese production in the United States was 13.5 billion pounds, which was a two percent increase from 2016. While cheese may not be an area where Iowa is ranked number one in production, Iowa still ranked ninth in the country in 2020.
If you travel up to Waukon Iowa, you will come across one of the state’s local cheese processors, WW Homestead Dairy. Tom Weighner is one of the three co-owners of the operation. Weighner says they decided to go into the cheese business to keep the farm going.
2009 was a terrible year for milking cows. The price of milk, the price of feed. Everything was really bad and we had another generation that wanted to dairy farm. So, we decided if we were going to stay in it, we're gonna try some value-added- try and get a little more control over our pricing
The creamery gets its milk from two farms run by two families.
We milk about 90 cows. My daughter and son-in-law are my main herd’s people. And then the Walleser farm, they milk about 200 cows with Tom Walleser, his two sons farm with him. So, all the milk that we process at the Creamery here all comes from just our two dairy farms.
At the creamery, you can get anything from fresh cheese curds to butter, to ice cream, and even your basic cheddar cheese.
So what makes a cheese curd a cheese curd?
Well according to Weighner, the cheese curd is really just fresh cheddar cheese.
It's actually part of the process of making block cheddar cheese but it's just really fresh. It's right out of the bat. You don't age it. So, it's got that squeak it's famous for and that's because of the higher moisture content because it is a fresh cheese.
On WW Homestead, there are a variety of different curd flavors you can try from their award-winning Bacon Morita flavor to Mango Habanero, Bloody Mary, buffalo, and more.
We have like I say 12 flavors of the fresh cheese curds plus the regular white cheddar curds. We have we do mild, medium sharp, and extra sharp block cheeses. We also do probably four or five flavor cheddars, we do a smoky, and onion chive, Bacon Merida.
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