Finding Dairyland: Wisconsin's Cheese Universe | Midwest Living

Finding Dairyland: Wisconsin's Cheese Universe

If Wisconsin were a country, it would be a superpower. At least in cheese. America’s Dairyland outproduces all but three nations, racking up international awards along the way. Join us for a trip to the heart of the cheese universe, where cheesemakers talk like artists and chefs share their favorite recipes for showcasing ricotta, Parmesan and more.

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Bruce Workman.
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Bruce Workman’s wide repertoire includes a signature Emmentaler Swiss he produces in 180-pound wheels at Edelweiss Creamery near Monticello.
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The master

In general, Bruce Workman doesn’t look much like Michael Phelps. But when Bruce drapes his collection of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker awards around his neck, he takes on a chest-full-of-medals air that’s almost Olympian. No one has matched Bruce’s record of these prestigious certifications, which recognize his mastery of nine different types of cheese.

In his massive playlist, the clear crowd favorite is Emmentaler Swiss, which he produces in traditional wheels weighing 180 pounds and standing almost waist high when set on edge. One key trait of old-world-style Swiss (made in the United States only by Bruce) is the size of its “eyes,” those bubbles that produce the holes every school kid recognizes. Most Swiss has eyes about the size of nickels; in Bruce’s Emmentaler, they’re the size of quarters.

Edelweiss Creamery’s entire setup near Monticello draws on European traditions. Bruce imported a 10,500-gallon copper-lined kettle specifically for the rich, nutty flavor it gives Swiss cheese, which Bruce considers the most difficult to make. Adding to the pressure is the quality of the neighborhood.

“We have 14 Master Cheesemakers in Green County,” Bruce says. “We’re kind of the Napa Valley of cheese making.” That makes Green County a road trip any curious cheesehead could embrace. (608) 938-4094; edelweisscreamery.com

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