Goot Essa is an Amish cheese company based in central Pennsylvania, in business since 2001. They make a wide variety of cheeses (traditional cow dairy, goat, sheep) using milk from Amish farms.

Founder John Esh shares more about Goot Essa and their cheeses in today’s Q & A. We first heard from John in a 2020 interview. I also did a little review of a Goot Essa gift basket I ordered here.

But before we get to the Q & A, we’ve got a cheese gift basket giveaway for you (winner drawn tomorrow – Wednesday, December 14).

Cheese Basket Giveaway

In appreciation to Goot Essa & Amish America readers, I’m giving away a gift basket – “Cheese Lover’s Dream” – which you can see below.

Here’s what it contains:

Cheeses:

  • 8 oz. Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar
  • 8 oz. Old German Weissa Kase
  • 6 oz. Der Weichen Gehl

Condiments:

  • 4 oz. Sweet & Spicy Dipping Mustard
  • 1.5 oz. Autumn Dawn Apple Butter
  • 1.5 oz. Nittany Valley Pure Honey

Container: 9 x 6.5 red gift box

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll draw and post the winner here tomorrow (Wednesday Dec. 14). Giveaway is limited to US addresses only.

Q & A with John Esh of Goot Essa Cheese

Amish America: Some people might be surprised to find an Amish cheese company selling over the internet. How did you start selling cheeses online, and what has that experience been like? 

John Esh of Goot Essa: It was during the early part of the pandemic that we had most of our restaurants quit ordering from us because of the shutdown. We saw the need to be able to move some product and decided to try the online market.

We were hoping to reach consumers who wanted to buy gourmet cheeses online instead of going out to the grocery stores. It started out slow until we had a food critic from the Philadelphia Inquirer write a story about using technology to maintain old world values. This story was printed in late September and then a lot of the customers came back during the holiday season to her gift assortments.

Amish America: Why is the company called Goot Essa? Who chose the name?

John Esh: Goot Essa means good food in Pennsylvania Dutch. We were looking for a memorable name that also touched a bit about our Amish heritage.

You work with Amish farmers – what does a typical Amish dairy in your area look like? 

We work with five different farm families for our milk supply. The three sheep farms supply milk. One farms milks about 40 sheep and two of them milk 25 sheep. The goat farm milks about 60 goats.

My family has the cows, and we milk about 65 cows. It generally is a family effort in our herd. Our sons: John, Jonas, Jacob, and Melvin all help me with the milking at some level depending on the schedule of what else is going on. During haymaking our two oldest grandsons Jake Allen and Arlan help with the milking as well.

Thinking of You” gift basket

Generally, the family gets up around 4:30 AM, does the milking, eats breakfast and then works in the cheese shop most of the day, especially this time of year with all the gift assortments that we make. We then milk again around 4:30 PM and are done with the chores around 6:30, have dinner, and then we like to spend some time together as a family relaxing and sharing the news of the day.

Why do Amish people feel farming is a good lifestyle?

We feel it is very important to work side by side with our children as they are growing up and learning by doing hands-on work. Also, we feel it helps them learn to be responsible. It also allows us to have three meals per day with the family around the table.

What makes your cheeses stand out?

Handmade gourmet cheeses require a lot of effort and attention to detail to make. There are no short cuts and it also requires a good quality control person. Our daughter Sadie May does an excellent job leading this team. Also aging cheese is in a cave is quite unique here in Pennsylvania.

What is the most unusual or surprising cheese in your offering?

The goat bloomy me rind Marn Vom Berge Kase is it very tasty and quite versatile great with club crackers and a bit of strawberry cranberry preserves, it also makes an excellent wine cheese, and is good on salads and burgers.

Which are the most popular cheeses?

Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar, Woodsmoked cheddar and Old German Weissa Kase.

What is in the gift baskets?

A mixture of cheeses, mustards, jellies, fudges, beef sticks, ham, prosciutto, and crackers.

Christmas Delight” gift basket

Do people visit Goot Essa, and what is that experience like?

Yes. They come to do a sampling and tour cheese caves. Many people comment that they’ve never seen a cheese cave in person.

Thanks to John for answering these questions. You can check out Goot Essa’s wide assortment of gift baskets and order here. They also have a subscription program if you’d like to get a monthly shipment of fine cheeses. 

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