Say Cheese!

Manwaring family celebrates a half-century of dairy products in eastern Idaho

Published online: May 26, 2020 Articles, Dining Steve Smede
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We all know the stories of how recipes get passed down as culinary heirlooms. For some folks, it’s funeral potatoes. For others, it’s chicken casserole. In the Manwaring family, it’s about the power of cheese.

From his early experience churning out cheese, butter and ice cream for Utah State University, Basil Manwaring moved up to eastern Idaho for additional dairy experience, then went on to buy a facility in Ashton. In 1971, he relocated the operation to Rigby, where the operation would continue for several years. Basil’s son, Blake, rebooted Manwaring Cheese with a new Rigby location in 2010. Late last year, the operation moved into a renovated property near Historic Downtown Idaho Falls. It is now helmed by Justin Manwaring, whose children are already working the store and learning the ins and outs of dairy production.

“I always thought cheese was just cheese, period,” Justin said. “On large scales, it’s easier to standardize, but at our scale, we have to really hone in on the details with our smaller batches. You have to really know the composition of the milk, always monitor it and keep your finger on the pulse of the process.” 

Manwaring utilizes a single herd of Guernsey cows, a breed of dairy cattle that hail from the British Channel Islands. Its milk is known for its rich flavor, high fat, protein and high betacarotene content.

From source material to equipment and maintenance, the logistics of dairy production may be tougher at a small scale, but the smaller the batch, the better the cheese. 

“The beauty is, you can fine-tune it,” he said. “That’s why, in competitions, even the big makers use small batches.”

Having a small, nimble operation allows other benefits. That includes more leeway to develop creative offerings. For Manwaring, a perfect case in point is “Hellfire,” a cheese with jalapeno, habanero and ghost peppers. (Enjoy the flavor. Just be sure to keep a cup of cold water at the ready.)

Gelato has also found its way into Manwaring’s product lineup.

“We buy a lot of whole milk, so why not?” Justin said. “We took some classes, learned how to make it Italian style in a variety of flavors. It is slowly churned with less fat and sugar than ice cream, but with a creamier texture.”

Manwaring currently has 14 gelato flavors, running the gamut from standard hazelnut to pistachio, chocolate peanut butter, mango, kiwi, banana and even a selection of sorbets for lactose intolerant customers. 

After a quick meal, visiting customers can catch a glimpse of the cheese-making process in all its glory. Manwaring has set up expansive windows that showcase the factory’s production process.

The store also sells snack-sized cheese curds, and they have recently teamed up with a local baker to offer gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches with a basil soup — perfect for dipping. Their products are currently available at the plant as well as Broulims grocery stores and Love at First Bite in Idaho Falls.


Manwaring Cheese

310 N Eastern Ave

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.



Fun Facts

Idaho is the nation’s third largest cheese producing state
Dairy is Idaho’s No. 1 agricultural product
Manwaring offers more than a dozen types of cheddar cheese
Cheese is made fresh four times a week, sourced from local dairies
The Idaho Falls facility opened on Nov. 19, after more than a year of renovations


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