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What makes Amish cheese different?

Amish cheese is a type of cheese that is produced by Amish communities, primarily in the United States. The Amish are a traditional Christian group that values simplicity, plain living, and avoidance of modern conveniences. This ethos extends to their cheesemaking practices, which results in cheeses that are unique from typical commercial cheeses.

What is Amish cheese?

Amish cheese refers to any cheese that is produced by Amish communities according to traditional methods. Some of the most common varieties of Amish cheese include:

  • Cheddar
  • Colby
  • Monterey Jack
  • Farmer’s cheese
  • Spreadable cheese curds
  • Various soft cheeses

Amish cheeses are primarily made from raw cow’s milk, though goat’s milk or sheep’s milk may also be used. The milk comes from cows on Amish family farms rather than large commercial dairy operations. This helps contribute to the unique taste and texture of Amish cheeses.

What makes Amish cheese different?

There are several key factors that distinguish Amish cheeses from typical commercial cheeses:

Use of raw milk

Most Amish cheeses are made from raw (unpasteurized) milk. Pasteurization kills potentially harmful bacteria in milk by heating it to high temperatures. However, it also destroys beneficial bacteria and enzymes that contribute to flavor and nutrition. By using raw milk, Amish cheeses retain a more complex, nuanced taste.

Traditional processes

Amish cheesemakers rely on time-honored techniques like culturing, renneting, salting, pressing, and aging to craft their cheeses. Modern creameries often use shortcuts and mechanization to increase efficiency and outputs. The traditional handcrafted processes preserve the integrity and character of Amish cheeses.

Lack of additives

Commercial cheesemakers frequently add ingredients like preservatives, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents, and food coloring to their cheeses. Amish cheeses are made using just five or six simple, natural ingredients: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, enzymes, and sometimes lipase. This purity allows the flavor of the milk to really shine.

Animal diet and care

The Amish are meticulous caretakers of their dairy cows. The animals graze on fresh pasture when possible, and their feed is free of hormones, antibiotics, and other additives. Happy, humanely raised cows produce better quality milk that makes better tasting cheese.

Small, batch production

Large cheese factories churn out enormous quantities of cheese in high-output facilities. In contrast, Amish cheesemaking is done in small batches, usually by hand. This allows greater control and consistency versus mass production.

Amish cheesemaking traditions

For generations, cheesemaking has been an integral part of Amish life and culture. Here are some interesting facts about Amish cheesemaking traditions:

  • Cheesemaking is a skill passed down from mothers to daughters. Young girls learn the craft at their mother’s side.
  • Most cheese is produced seasonally, when cows are grazing on fresh pasture and milk supply is ample.
  • Cheese is made in small open vats over a wood fire or gas flame.
  • Cows are milked by hand twice daily on Amish family farms.
  • Rennet for cheesemaking comes from the stomach lining of calves or lambs raised on the farm.
  • Cheese pressing and molding is often done by hand using cheesecloth.
  • Aging rooms are simple, with natural humidity and temperature.
  • Cheesemaking chores fit flexibly around other farm work and family tasks.

For the Amish, cheesemaking is not just a livelihood – it’s a way of preserving cultural heritage and connecting with the land and seasons.

Common characteristics of Amish cheeses

The traditional practices of Amish cheesemaking lend their products distinctive characteristics rarely found in commercial cheeses. Here are some of the hallmarks of authentic Amish cheeses:

Deep, complex flavors

The raw milk, natural starter cultures, and long aging endow Amish cheeses with incredibly rich, nuanced tasted you have to experience to fully appreciate.

Smooth, supple texture

The curds are handled gently during production, yielding cheeses that are moist and creamy on the palate without artificial additives.

Nutty, grassy undertones

Subtle notes of fresh pasture and nuts come through in Amish cheeses thanks to the animals’ natural, forage-based diet.

Farm-fresh aroma

Amish cheeses often have a sweet, clean fragrance reminiscent of the hay and milk they came from.

Natural rinds

Rinds on Amish cheeses form naturally and are eaten along with the interior paste. They contribute texture and flavor.

Bold, bright color

Vibrant yellow-gold hues in Amish cheeses reflect the carotenoid-rich milk from cows eating green grass.

Variable shape and size

Being made in small batches by hand, Amish cheeses come in diverse shapes and sizes unlike factory cheeses.

Popular varieties of Amish cheese

While Amish communities produce various cheese types, the ones below are among the most common and beloved:

Raw milk cheddar

Aged for 6 months to 2 years, Amish raw milk cheddars have deep complexity and creamy texture. They come in white and yellow varieties.


This semi-soft washed curd cheese has a mild, mellow flavor profile. Amish Colby is moister than typical commercial varieties.

Monterey Jack

Similar to Colby but with a bit more oomph. Amish Monterey Jack plays well with spices and herbs for a zesty kick.

Farmer’s cheese

A fresh curd cheese similar to cottage cheese but without the cream. Amish farmer’s cheese has a tangy, milky taste.

Spreadable cheese curds

Soft, spreadable curd cheese is a highly popular Amish product. Great for snacking or using like cream cheese.

Raw milk Swiss

Amish Swiss has big flavor punched up by aromatic cheeses like Gruyere in the blend. It has trademark eyes and supple texture.

Cheese Type Texture Flavor Profile Uses
Raw Milk Cheddar Smooth, dense Rich, nutty, tangy Snacking, sandwiches, casseroles
Colby Supple, elastic Mild, mellow, creamy Melting, grilled cheese, sauces
Monterey Jack Moist, pliable Buttery, light tang Quesadillas, tacos, pizza
Farmer’s Cheese Crumbly, grainy Fresh, tart, tangy Dips, spreads, cheesecake
Spreadable Curds Smooth, creamy Mild, milky, fresh Bagels, toast, fruit
Raw Milk Swiss Smooth, supple Nutty, gruyere, earthy Fondue, paninis, grilled

Benefits of Amish cheeses

Beyond their incredibly fresh taste, Amish cheeses offer several health and nutrition advantages over factory cheeses:

Higher nutrient levels

Raw milk cheeses retain higher levels of bioavailable proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes versus heated milk cheeses.

More good fats

Grass-fed Amish cow’s milk has higher omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional milk.


The live cultures used to make Amish cheeses boost digestive and immune function through beneficial bacteria.

No chemicals

With no additives or preservatives, Amish cheeses offer wholesome purity. This benefits people with food sensitivities.

Low allergy risk

Many who cannot tolerate pasteurized milk find Amish raw milk cheeses easy to digest.

Bone health

Raw milk cheeses have higher calcium levels for strong bones and teeth.

Where to buy authentic Amish cheeses

You can purchase genuine Amish cheeses from these sources:

Direct from Amish farms

Many Amish farms sell cheese directly to the public. Visit Amish communities to buy right from the source.

Farmers markets

Amish cheesemakers often vend their wares at local farmers markets. Check for Amish vendors at markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and New York.

Specialty cheese shops

Some top-notch cheese retailers specialize in Amish cheeses. The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills offers nationwide online sales.

Online ordering

Websites like,, and let you order Amish cheeses online.

On-farm stores

Shop on-farm stores like Amishland Cheese House in Pennsylvania and Yoder’s Country Market in Ohio.

Tips for enjoying Amish cheeses

Here are a few tips for getting the most flavor and satisfaction from your Amish cheeses:

  • Choose cheeses at peak ripeness for the best texture and taste.
  • Allow cheese to come to room temperature before serving to develop aromas and flavors.
  • Sample cheeses plain before adding them to recipes to appreciate their nuances.
  • Pair cheeses with fruits, nuts, chutneys, cured meats, wine, beer, or cider.
  • Use milder cheeses for cooking and save aged types for eating raw.
  • Select cheeses that complement each other for cheese boards.
  • Store cheeses properly wrapped in waxed paper and cloth.


Amish cheeses are a delight for the senses thanks to traditional practices that create depth of flavor, smooth texture, and farm-fresh character. Raw milk, natural starter cultures, grass-fed cows, small batches, and long aging are hallmarks of Amish cheesemaking. Popular varieties like raw cheddar, Colby, and spreadable curds make Amish cheeses unique from factory cheeses. Beyond amazing taste, Amish cheeses deliver live probiotics, high nutrition, and low allergy potential. Seek out authentic Amish cheeses at farmers markets, cheese shops, Amish farms, and websites to enjoy one of America’s original artisan foods.