Havarti Cheese: Everything You Need to Know

Today we continue our profiles of cheeses with a look at a Danish treat: Havarti cheese.

What is Havarti Cheese?

Havarti Cheese or Cream Havarti (Fløde Havarti in Danish) is a semi-soft Danish cow’s milk cheese. It is rindless, with a smooth surface and a cream or yellow color depending on the type. It has very small and irregular eyes (holes).

It has a buttery aroma and a generally sweet taste with a slightly acidic tang. It can be sharp in the stronger varieties, resembling Swiss cheese.

We also stock Havarti with Dill and Havarti with Caraway for those looking for additional flavor. Dill combines the flavors of fennel, anise, and celery, with a slight bitterness, whilst caraway has a very pungent, earthy anise flavor.

How is Havarti Cheese made?

Havarti cheese was initially created by Hanne Nielsen who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, in Øverød, north of Copenhagen, in the mid-19th century. It is made like most cheeses, by introducing rennet to milk to cause curdling. The curds are pressed into cheese molds which are drained, and then the cheese is aged. Havarti is a washed curd cheese, which contributes to the subtle flavor of the cheese.

It will usually be aged for around three months. As it ages it becomes saltier and nuttier.

How should I eat it?

Havarti is a table cheese that is suitable for slicing, grilling, or melting.  When left at room temperature the cheese tends to soften quickly so it is great on a cheeseboard alongside hard cheeses.

It is delicious melted into pasta dishes including macaroni cheese or incorporated into a grilled cheese sandwich. Havarti even works well when grated onto a pizza with mozzarella. You can make an excellent cheese sauce with it that will pair well with grilled chicken and vegetables.

Because of its creaminess, it stands up well to spice. You can use it in recipes that call for chilies and it also pairs very well with the heat of horseradish. Try Havarti with Dill in cauliflower dishes for a fun combination of tastes.

If you are serving it as part of a cheeseboard, slice a few thin slices off the block to show your guests that this is a fantastic way to enjoy it. Serve it with fresh fruits and honey, as well as savory crackers and cured meats. Try our Streb Meats Fresh Smoked Sausage as a starting point.

What should I drink with this cheese?

The smooth, creamy flavor of Havarti goes well against most red wines. It can stand up to the high alcohol flavors of Zinfandel or Shiraz, but it is subtle enough to enjoy with a soft Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you prefer white wine, try a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, as the fruity flavors of both will complement the butteriness of the cheese. You could even try it with a light weiss beer or saison.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our exploration of Havarti cheese today. How do you like to enjoy it? Let us know in the comments!

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