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Factory Tours USA

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Guggisberg Cheese Factory
SR 557 near Charm OH, Charm, OH   44617
Map Location           Latitude: 40.506294   Longitude: -81.784633

Cheese-making is an old-world art form, practiced in Amish country and kept alive by generations of family practitioners whose ancestors brought the tasteful tradition with them from the snow-covered mountains of Switzerland to the misty valleys of Ohio.

Each family group, carrying with it a unique way of working through a similar process, makes a product that bears its own special brand of taste and originality.

Alfred and Margaret Guggisberg emigrated in 1947 from Berne, Switzerland, to Millersburg, Ohio. Alfred had studied cheese-making not only in Europe but also in Africa.

Although he originally targeted Austria as the location for his own cheese-making enterprise, a neighbor in Switzerland mentioned Ohio?s need for skilled cheese-makers. He emigrated a year before the rest of his family, all of whom eventually became involved in the business.

His wife, Margaret, whose dream was to operate a "little shop" has been fully realized with the Chalet in the Valley portion of the Guggisberg complex. Alfred has passed away, but Margaret is still active in company business.

Son Eric runs the Swiss Inn, and his brother Richard is in charge of the two factories, the newer of which is located in Sugarcreek.

The entire complex began with nothing more than large copper kettles?which could produce up to a 200-pound block of cheese a day?and old world family ingenuity, perseverance, and tradition. As the area grew, so did the Guggisberg cheese factory. By 1967, the family had created its current signature item, Baby Swiss.

Over the years, customers have come to crave the ?mild, creamy? flavor of Baby Swiss, so named by Magaret Guggisberg because she thought it looked like the small offspring of the original Swiss cheese.

The cheese-making process at Guggisberg begins early in the morning with the purchase of milk, primarily from farmers in Wayne and Holmes County who maintain comparatively small herds.

Pasteurized milk is then pumped into three stainless steel vats and held for three to four hours. It goes through several different stages during which curds and whey (the watery portion of the milk) are separated. Whey is stored for use in other products. Curds, the component used for cheese, are pressed down with heavy lids that press out as much of the whey as possible and flatten the cheese into wheel molds.

After the cheese is packaged, it must be moved to warming cellars. It is this portion of the process through which it gains its flavor and its holes. Each package is dated and tracked with weight and type noted to assure the proper length of time needed to allow trapped carbon dioxide to release and ?pop the holes.?

The ingredients that make each cheese slightly different are the cultures and enzymes that are added to the vats and that ?go to work in the warming cellar.?

The flavor of cheese is even affected by the time of the year in which the milk is produced and by what the cows are eating.

Fat and protein content are also adjusted for different types of cheese. In general, fattier cheeses are creamier.

When the cheese is aged and ready, Guggisberg sells it wholesale, retail, and through mail order distribution in Ohio and the Pittsburgh area, although we are starting to spread out a bit.

Cheese can continue to age slowly, even once it has reached its peak, in a cold cellar for up to two years; a period of six months produces a sharper flavor. Left outside of refrigeration to ?puff out,? as some customers like it to do, is safe because a vacuum-packed seal assures it will not mold.

The Guggisberg Cheese Factory was founded by a Swiss cheesemaker and is now Swiss family owned and operated. Nestled in the hills of Doughty Valley and surrounded by flowers, Guggisberg Cheese is home to the Original Baby Swiss. There are many varieties of cheese available in the cheese and gift shop, as well as imported Swiss chocolates and cuckoo clocks. Located near the Guggisberg Swiss Inn is a place where guests can experience buggy rides, sleigh rides, and a trail riding (seasonal).

Visitors can watch cheese being made through a viewing window as well as a video presentation. The nearby Chalet in the Valley Restaurant serves Amish and Swiss home cooked specialties.

Cheese and gift shop Summer hours: Mon-Sat 8-6, Sun 11-4. Winter hours: Mon-Sat 8-5. Cheese Factory Hours: Mon-Fri 8-2.

Other Information
This is an interesting insight into the Swiss or Amish culture of making cheese. Not necessarily Amish.

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