Q-and-A with John Esh of Goot Essa (Holiday Cheese & Fudge Gift Basket Giveaway)

This summer we learned about Goot Essa, an Amish cheese maker in central Pennsylvania.

The business had adapted to the recent disruption and started selling their foods online (with non-Amish help to run the website).

Last week I spoke with Goot Essa’s founder, John Esh Jr.

John has kindly answered some questions – about his business, personal favorite cheeses, his family’s Christmas Day activities, and his Centre County community.

Goot Essa is a new advertiser here, and John has also offered to give away a holiday gift basket to an Amish America reader – this tasty-looking collection, called the Country Basket:

Goot Essa’s Country Basket

Here’s the description:


4 oz. Old German Weissa Kase
4 oz. Mountain Home Woodsmoked Cheddar
4 oz. Garden Pepper Jack
6 oz. Der Weichen Gehl
4 oz. Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar


1.5 oz. Autumn Dawn Apple Butter
1.5 oz. Sweet & Spicy Dipping Mustard
1.5 oz. Nittany Valley Pure Honey
1.5 oz. Gideon’s Sweet Dipping Mustard


3.5 oz. Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge
3.5 oz. Creamy Peanut Butter Fudge

Container: 12 x 12 basket

How to Enter to win the Goot Essa Country Basket

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win the Country Basket, simply leave a comment on this post.

I’ll draw the winner at random and announce it here in a separate post on next Monday, December 14.

Holiday Host cutting board assortment

Q-and-A with John Esh Jr. of Goot Essa

Amish America: How did Goot Essa get started?

John Esh: Nineteen years ago – my dairy nutritionist Bob Patton kept asking – how are you going to keep the farm in the family? We have a small dairy herd and realized that we couldn’t compete with the large farms. We considered our options and chose to start making specialty cheeses.

The Esh family farm in Centre County, PA

Amish America: Who are the other families and farms involved in the business?

John Esh: We buy our goat milk from two Amish farm families and the sheep milk from three Amish farm families. We use their milk to make cheese with.

What’s the community like where you live?

We have about 600 Amish families in the four valleys that we live in. There are about 14 Amish youth groups included in the 600 families.

“Our first cheese cave”

Which is your personal favorite cheese or cheeses?

For breakfast with bacon and eggs I enjoy the Mt. Valley Sharp Cheddar. For a snack I enjoy Felsa Yehr with coffee. For lunch Der Weichen Gehl melted on a sandwich. For dinner some Der Edel bleu Kase with steak.

What are your family’s favorite cheeses?

Old German Weissa Kase with apple butter, Marn vom Berge Kase with strawberry cranberry preserve, Der Edel Bleu Kase with raspberry-red beet spread.

Christmas Pleasures gift basket

Why do customers like your cheese? What do they tell you?

They generally are people who appreciate good quality food. They say it is rare to find so many outstanding/high quality cheeses from one small producer.

What are the gift baskets like?

45 different assortments featuring our 19 cheeses, 13 condiments, 5 fudges. A wide range of cutting boards, handmade Amish baskets, wooden crates.

Christmas Morning basket

How has your family & community been handling the 2020 covid situation?

School was shut down this spring for the last 7 weeks. We had no church services for about 8 weeks.

How do you and your family usually spend Christmas Day and the season?

We enjoy all being together on Christmas Day singing songs, visiting, and enjoying cheese and charcuterie and dessert plates.

Goot Essa cheese shop

What’s one lesson or thing you’ve learned while running Goot Essa?

I’ve met some really nice people – chefs at the restaurants that we work with who also enjoy showing me what they make.

Christmas Party basket

Where can people get your cheese and baskets, and which are some of your most popular items?

Some of the most popular: Mt. Valley Sharp Cheddar, Cheese Lover’s Dream, Country Basket, Country Party. (800) 490-4387, gootessacheese.com

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  1. Cyn


    This all looks so delicious. I would be thrilled to win it. Also plan to order some as gifts. Thank you

    1. Basket Giveaway

      I would love a chance to win your beautiful basket for this giveaway. All your baskets look amazing. Thank you !!

  2. AMBER


    I would love to buy these gift baskets for family. I would love to win one also!

  3. Ann Houghtaling

    Looks like a beautiful Basket…thank you for the opportunity to enter..

  4. Tom Glass

    Cant wait!!!!!

    Cant wait to try everything sounds and looks sooooo good

  5. Theresa Human

    Count me in!!

    Count me in on the drawing. 🙂 Definitely going to look them up, the family always enjoys trying new cheese’s.

  6. Great Book Idea!

    Hi, I’m an author of Amish fiction with my debut novel coming out May 2021. A future novel of mine may include an Amish cheesemaker like John Esh! I may be in touch!
    Would love to win the basket!

  7. Susan Campbell

    What a beautiful giveaway

    What a beautiful giveaway. I enjoy reading your posts.

  8. Walter Boomsma

    "Goot" Cheese!

    We ordered several items after the first article this summer and certainly weren’t disappointed! Well, until we ate it all–then we were disappointed there was none left! However, I’m not sure which is better–the cheese or the story. If we are ever allowed to resume our traditional visits to Pennsylvania, we’d definitely love to visit. Congratulations on your deserved success, and best wishes for more.

  9. Everything looks delicious! Anxious to order.

  10. Beautiful Products and Quite a Variety!

    I appreciate all your hard work and efforts!!! I have read about and watched programs about making cheese. It is no Easy task!!! But Very rewarding I am Sure! I love the Amish communities, so clean and peaceful….Beautiful landscaping and flowers also! Thank you for all you do and the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of all your labors!!

  11. Roger Skarr

    Goot Essa

    I really enjoyed reading the interview with John Essa Jr. We all should support family business owners during these usually difficult times. Looking forward to having a chance for a taste!

  12. Joan Crockett

    Cheese Basket

    What a beautiful basket full of wonderful looking items! Would love to win and enjoy this!

  13. Delicious

    I would love to be able to serve my family something special on Christmas

  14. Vanessa Montes

    Goot Essa

    Looks good. Our family would enjoy everything. God bless you all.

  15. Leslie Harris

    Q-and-A with John Esh of Goot Essa

    Well THIS was the yummiest article I’ve read on Amish America in a while…lol

    Information that’s truly in good taste! 😉

    Thanks so much John Esh and Erik! 🙂

  16. Lona Wait

    Success Story

    I loved reading about this business that is sustained by more than one family. It is so nice to read about successes in business, particularly now that so many businesses have closed. It was a very positive bit of news. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Ann Whitaker


    What joy it would be to win such a gracious gift. merry Christmas to all of you.

  18. Dianna Micklatcher

    Gift Basket.

    I enjoy the cheeses that are sold at a home show in Grand Rapids, MI. The Amish farm in Stanwood MI brings samples and I always buy what I can afford. The natural processes make for some fine eating, very tasty. I would love to win this gift basket to share with my family. Thank You.

  19. Lynn McCurdy

    Gift Basket

    Beautiful Basket.

  20. Daniel Simon

    cheese is good

    Hi Erik

  21. Tina Stubblefield

    Gift Basket

    I would love to win a basket! They look so interesting.

  22. Michele Chandler


    What a beautiful gift!

  23. Tasty Amish Treats!

    What a tasty assortment of Amish treats! We would especially like the spicy mustards and fudges!
    Nice idea for gift-giving, too!! Thanks for the invitation!

  24. Lori Farquhar


    I would love to win the cheese package! We’re missionaries living overseas, and I truly miss this aspect of American life….

  25. Zara

    I would love some cheese/fudge

    This looks delicious and I think my family and I would enjoy it a lot! Have a great day.

  26. Merrillyn Watts

    Amish goodies

    I am an Amish driver in Maryland. I live across the street from our local cheese house. I love being in the community and love reading stories on the amishamerica website. Have a great holiday each and every one

  27. Cindy LaMay

    Oh my, this would totally make me a great Christmas gift. I love cheese and fudge.

  28. Belinda Schneider

    Looks delicious!

    Thank you for the opportunity to win your lovely cheese and treats gift basket! How kind of you.
    Christmas blessings

  29. Beautiful Cheeses

    These beautiful cheeses, dipping sauces, and fudge samplers would receive such a warm welcome in my home. I know my family would consider them a special treat.

  30. Giveaway

    I would love to win your giveaway of cheese and homemade fudge
    I’m not good at making candy .

  31. Lillie Dudley

    Love this

    Live that I found this. I live in South Texas, nothing quite like a cheese farm around here. I might could trade you some good tamales. Going to order some and give it a try. Would love to win.
    Hoping to visit one day.

  32. Goot Essa Gift Basket

    Sounds delicious! I would love to win this basket!

  33. Madeline Whitney

    Cheese & Fudge Gift Basket Giveaway

    Enjoyed the story behind this business and I sincerely hope that they will continue to stay in business during these difficult times we are having. Who wouldn’t like to be a winner in this giveaway and share these delicious treats with family and friends.

  34. Susan M Mroz


    What a nice selection! I would love to win the basket!

  35. seth eberhardt

    i would like to win! cheese makes me happy!

  36. Q and A with John Esh of Good Essa (Holiday Cheese and Fudge Gift Basket Giveaway)

    What a wonderful gesture, especially for this season this year. I’m sure it will brighten anyone’s holiday. It would be a greatly appreciated gift for me.(or anyone!) Amish goods are some of the best foods available. Enjoy your holidays.

  37. Joni Schroeder


    I’m a lifelong cheesehead from Wisconsin. It looks like a delicious assortment of tasty treats. Please pick me?
    Thank you

  38. Carolyn Wheat

    Basket Giveaway

    This is a very nice generous giveaway especially when small businesses are struggling. Thank you for the gesture!

  39. Eileen Brown

    Such a treat!

    It would truly be a wonderful treat to receive this gift basket. I enjoy your columns. Thank you!

  40. Holiday Cheese & Fudge Gift Basket Giveaway

    I was in Tennessee recently to bury my mother , her log house caught a fire ! I visited a Amish Farm in Delano, Tennessee, they let me shop even though they were about to close ! I came away from there with the most pleasant feeing from those folks ! I brought back my deceased fathers cedar buggy , he traveled many times to Pennsylvania to visit and purchase buggy parts ! I’m so proud of his buggy !
    I would llove to experience your beautiful cheeses and fudge ! I appreciate your dedication to quality products !

  41. Jim Brown

    Looks delicious

    These cheeses and treats look amazing. I would love to be the lucky recipient. Thank you!

  42. Shannon Kuhns

    Wisconsin Cheese Lovers

    My husband and I were born & raised in Wisconsin and love specialty cheeses! We also make some of our own from milk bought from local Amish farms. Would love to try yours!

  43. James Fricks

    would like to win cheese basket

  44. Kay Bossard

    Holiday Cheese and Fudge Gift Basket Giveway

    OH! this looks so delicious and would love to win this basket! Thanks for the opportunity to win!!!

  45. Q&A John Esh

    Enjoy reading your emails. Would like to try this cheese.

  46. Holiday cheese and fudge gift basket giveaway

    This good reminds me of my grandmother and the good food she use to make and eat. What a great remembrance for a holiday dinner if would be to have some of that delicious food at our table.

  47. Jodi Meckle

    It would be fantastic to try products that are new to us! Support for small business is vital.

  48. Jeannine Peck

    Pennsylvania Dutch is my heritage and I am very proud of my fathers roots from their dairy farm in Lancaster County. Dad has recently passed on. It would be wonderful for our family to be gifted such a nice selection of cheeses. Thank you.

  49. Kathy Rowe

    Would love to visit there. The next best thing would be to win the basket!

  50. Stephanie H.

    This basket assortment would make a wonderful addition to our Christmas festivities this year.Taking care of each other and family businesses is a must during these harder times.