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Fresh, wholesome, creamy butter and cheese.
That is what one expects when they visit the Minerva Dairy store located at the dairy in Minerva, a town of about 4,000 people tucked in between three counties, Stark, Carroll and Columbiana.
With each new generation, the dairy has expanded its products while keeping true to its ancestors. Now in its fifth generation, with the sixth not too far behind, Venae Watts and her brother, Adam Mueller, have started infusing flavors to their butters.
In June, their latest flavor, Sriracha butter will be available.
"We have several flavors already," said Watts. "Among them are Garlic Herb, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon Honey and Smoked butter. Everyone loves the Garlic Herb. The Smoked butter is a culinary butter for cooking rather than spreading. It gives food that smoked flavor. We have our own smokehouse here, so it is a cold smoke."
Watts said she just recently taste-tested the Sriracha butter. "It is hot, just one of those flavors you either like or your don't," she said.
Watts said the butter is infused the old-fashioned way. The churn is watched by the butter maker to correctly time the insertion of flavors, then the butter maker finishes the batch churn and hand rolls the butter.
Minerva Dairy produces 20,000 pounds of butter daily.
Locally, their butters and cheeses are available at Earth Fare on Everhard Road NW and their own store.
Cheese and more
Even though the facility started off as a cheese company, it was making butter at the same time, because "there is always some cream left over when you make cheese, so what do you do with it? You make butter," said Phil Mueller, CEO and the fourth generation of the family to run Minerva Dairy. "We've always made butter, and we've always made cheese, since 1894."
According to Mueller, Minerva Dairy is the oldest family-owned cheese-and-butter dairy in the country. It started with Max P. Radloff, who opened a cheese factory in 1894 in Hustisford, Wisc.
"He always wanted to be a tailor, but he couldn't make any money being a tailor, so he became a cheese maker," said Mueller.
Among Minerva Dairy's cheeses are a Raw Milk Cheddar; a Smokehouse Cheddar, made with a special blend of maple wood chips; and a Farmer's Butter Cheese, a mild white cheese.
Radloff's son was Roland, who continued with the cheese business. His daughter, Lorraine, married Delbert Mueller. When Lorraine and Delbert got married, her father and grandfather offered them a chance to operate the Minerva Dairy location, formerly a Pet Milk operation, they bought when Pet Milk went out of business. The Muellers started making ice cream along with cheese and butter. The diary continues to sell ice cream for $1 a dip at the dairy store only, and have continued the family's tradition of cheese and butter, each generation adding its own special touch to the business.