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!
When we think about Danish cheeses, we often think about Danish Blue, Esrom, Danbo… but, by far the most popular cheese that is exported from Denmark is Havarti.
Havarti is a semi-soft cheese, which has a creamy buttery flavor. It goes great on the cheese board with figs and sliced bread, or melted atop a sandwich. But, what else do we know about this cheese?
The Origins of Havarti
As noted above, Havarti is a Danish cheese; but the inspiration of this delicious treat comes from one woman’s travels around Europe during the mid 1800s. The commonly accepted story is that Hanne Nielsen was the wife of a New Zealand farmer that was extremely interested in learning about cheesemaking; and, in addition to traveling around Europe, learning different techniques, she set up a farm where she perfected her craft. The town where she set up her experimental farm, called Havarthigaard, is located north of Copenhagen; and, during the mid 1900s, became the source of Havarti’s name. (Source: Havarti Cheese Production and Uses)
What is Creamy Havarti?
Creamy Havarti (flødehavarti) is different from what would be considered the “original” Havarti, in that it is made with highly pasteurized milk, such that the whey proteins are not separated from the cheese curds; so, the end product is a lot richer and creamier.
The “original” Havarti is very similar to Swiss cheese in flavor and texture–but also, in that it is typically aged around 3 months. Creamy Havarti cannot be ripened for very long because the whey protein doesn’t age very well.
The Havarti Experience
If you go to the supermarket, you will often find that there are many different kinds of Havarti. Much like chevre, this cheese is sold in varieties with fruits and/or herbs and spices, as well as original flavor. Some of the varieties you may find include cranberry, garlic, caraway, basil, coconut, and sour cream & chives; but, by far the most popular ones are dill, red pepper, and jalapeño.
Havarti is truly versatile. It is an excellent table cheese and is great on sandwiches and salads. It is a great melting cheese so, fondue and paninis should not be overlooked.
Looking for a great wine to pair with Havarti? It goes really well with just about any wine, but goes particularly well with sweet wines like Beaujolais and Riesling. If you’re going pick a red wine, try to keep with lighter-bodied wines.
Havarti is certainly one of my favorite cheeses–and, I think it was one of the very first cheeses I tried when I started John Eats Cheese. If you’re looking to learn more about cheese or are looking for unintimidating cheese to start with on your journey of fromage exploration pick up some crackers and Creamy Havarti, and go to town.
How to make grilled cheese:
1. Heat 1 tablespoon salted butter in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Press the sandwich slightly and place it in the skillet. Cook until golden on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Flip, adding more butter to the pan if needed, and cook until the other side is golden and the cheese melts, 3 to 5 more minutes.
1. Classic Sandwich: 2 slices cheddar, Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese between 2 slices country white bread; cook, flipping once, until golden.
2. Bacon and Tomato: Make Classic Grilled Cheese (No. 1), adding 3 slices crisp bacon and 1 slice tomato between the cheese.
3. Triple Cheese: Make Classic Grilled Cheese (No. 1), using 1 slice each Cheddar, Muenster and Swiss cheese.
4. Spicy Nacho Sandwich: 2 slices white bread with 1 slice Monterey Jack or American cheese, some pickled jalapeno slices and 1 slice cheddar. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
5. Crunchy Nacho: Make Spicy Nacho Grilled Cheese (No. 4), adding 1 tablespoon crushed corn chips with the jalapenos.
6. Goat Cheese–Peppadew: Mix 1/2 cup cream cheese with 1/4 cup goat cheese and 8 chopped Peppadew peppers. Sandwich one-quarter of the mixture between 2 slices multigrain bread; cook, flipping once, until golden. (Use the remaining cheese mixture for more sandwiches.)
7. Grilled Cheese Fingers: Make Classic Grilled Cheese (No. 1). Cut off the crusts and cut the sandwich into strips.
8. Diner Sandwich: 2 slices American cheese between 2 slices white bread. Spread mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich and cook, flipping once, until golden. Serve with ketchup.
9. Spicy Diner Mix: 1 tablespoon mayonnaise with 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha. Make Diner Grilled Cheese (No. 8), replacing the mayonnaise with the spicy mayonnaise mixture.
10. Cheddar and Pickles: Make Diner Grilled Cheese (No. 8), replacing the American cheese with aged white cheddar and adding sliced pickles between the cheese.
11. Havarti and Chicken Salad: Sandwich 2 slices potato bread with 1 slice Havarti, 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken salad and another slice of Havarti. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
12. Garlic Ham and Cheese: Prepare 2 thick slices frozen garlic bread as the label directs. Sandwich with 2 slices each Monterey Jack and ham. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
13. Pesto: Spread pesto on 1 slice white bread. Top with 1 slice each Provolone and Mozzarella. Top with another slice of bread and cook, flipping once, until golden.
14. Avocado: Toss 1/4 sliced avocado with lime juice and lime zest to taste. Sandwich 2 slices white bread with 2 slices pepper jack and the avocado. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
15. Potato Chip: Spread yellow mustard on 1 slice whole-wheat bread; top with 2 slices American cheese and 8 potato chips. Top with another slice of bread and cook, flipping once, until golden.
16. Swiss-Mushroom: Spread 2 slices rye bread with Thousand Island dressing. Sandwich with 1 slice Swiss cheese, some sautéed mushrooms and onions, and another slice of Swiss. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
17. Bagel Spread: a split bagel with mayonnaise and spicy mustard. Sandwich with 1 slice Muenster, 2 slices salami and another slice of muenster. Cook, flipping once, until golden, pressing to flatten.
18. Cajun Sandwich: 2 slices country white bread with 2 slices Provolone. Cook in butter with a pinch of Cajun seasoning.
19. Muffuletta: Make Cajun Grilled Cheese (No. 18), adding 1 tablespoon deli olive salad between the cheese.
20. Roasted Tomato: Toss 4 halved plum tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 350 degrees F, 1 hour; mash. Spread 2 slices sourdough bread with one-quarter of the tomato mixture and sandwich with 2 slices cheddar. Cook, flipping once, until golden. (Use the remaining tomato mixture for more sandwiches.)
21. Blue Cheese and Onion: Sandwich 2 slices marble rye bread with 1 slice each muenster and soft blue cheese, some caramelized onions and another slice of muenster. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
22. Italian: Sandwich 2 slices sourdough bread with 1 slice provolone, 1 slice mortadella, some chopped pickled vegetables and another slice of provolone. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
23. Fontina and Sage: Fry 4 sage leaves in a skillet in butter and olive oil until crisp. Sandwich 2 slices crusty bread with 2 slices fontina and the fried sage. Cook in the same skillet.
24. Mediterranean: Spread baba ghanoush on 2 slices whole-grain bread. Sandwich with 1 slice monterey jack, a few thin slices grilled zucchini, 2 tablespoons crumbled feta and another slice of monterey jack. Cook in olive oil.
25. Gruyere and Sauerkraut: Spread dijon mustard on 1 slice crusty bread. Top with 2 slices gruyere, 1 tablespoon sauerkraut and another slice of bread. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
26. Roast Beef and Brie: Spread 2 slices sourdough bread with dijon mustard and brie (remove the rind). Sandwich with some caramelized onions and 1 slice roast beef. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
27. Inside-Out Bun: Sandwich 1 slice each pepper jack and Swiss cheese on an inside-out seedless hamburger bun. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
28. Patty Melt: Cook a thin hamburger patty to medium doneness. Sandwich an inside-out seedless hamburger bun with 1 slice cheddar, the hamburger patty and 1 slice American cheese. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
29. Hot Dog: Halve a hot dog lengthwise; brown in a skillet. Spread a hot dog bun with ketchup and mustard, then sandwich with the hot dog and 1 slice American cheese. Cook, flipping once, until golden, pressing to flatten.
30. Meaty Macaroni: Spread 3 tablespoons warm macaroni and cheese on 2 slices potato bread. Drizzle with hot sauce and sandwich with ¼ cup warm pulled pork. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
31. Spanish Olive Sandwich: 1/4 cup grated manchego cheese and 1 tablespoon sliced green olives between 2 slices white bread. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
32. Fig and Olive: Make Spanish Olive Grilled Cheese (No. 31), spreading the bread with fig jam before building the sandwich.
33. Bacon-Waffle-Cheddar Sandwich: 2 thawed toaster waffles with 1 slice cheddar, 2 slices crisp bacon and another slice of cheddar. Cook, flipping once, until golden. Serve with maple syrup.
34. Egg in a Hole: Cut out a 2-inch round from the center of 1 slice country white bread; place the bread in a hot buttered skillet and crack an egg into the hole. Cook until the white sets, then flip and top with 1 slice cheddar. Meanwhile, add another slice of bread to the skillet and top with 1 slice cheddar and 3 slices crisp bacon. Sandwich the two halves and cook until golden.
35. Pear-Camembert: Spread 2 slices multigrain bread with camembert (remove the rind). Sandwich with thin pear slices. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
36. Ham–Apple Butter: Spread 1 slice country white bread with apple butter and another with dijon mustard. Sandwich with 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 slice ham and another slice of Swiss. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
37. Hawaiian: Spread 2 slices Hawaiian sweet bread or challah bread with pineapple preserves. Sandwich with 2 slices each monterey jack and ham. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
38. Taleggio and Broccoli Rabe: Sandwich 2 slices crusty bread with 2 slices taleggio and some sautéed broccoli rabe. Cook in a mixture of butter and olive oil.
39. Ricotta-Garlic: Mix 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, 1 small grated garlic clove, and salt to taste. Sandwich 2 slices sourdough bread with one-quarter of the ricotta mixture and cook, flipping once, until golden. (Use the remaining ricotta mixture for more sandwiches.)
40. Fried Mozzarella: Whisk 1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk in a shallow dish. Mix 1/4 cup flour and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan in another dish. Sandwich 2 slices white bread with 2 slices fresh mozzarella. Dredge in the flour mixture, then dip in the beaten egg. Cook, flipping once, until golden.
41. Open-Face Cutouts: Cut shapes out of sliced white bread using a cookie cutter. Cut matching shapes out of sliced cheddar. Broil the bread until lightly toasted, then flip, top each with a piece of cheese and broil until the cheese melts.
42. Open-Face Caprese: Broil a split ciabatta roll until lightly toasted. Drizzle with olive oil and top each half with 2 slices tomato and 2 slices fresh mozzarella. Broil until the cheese melts. Top with chopped basil.
43. Pizza Spread: 2 slices Italian bread with marinara sauce and sandwich with 1 slice provolone, 2 slices pepperoni and 1 slice mozzarella. Cook in a mixture of butter and olive oil.
44. Open-Face French Onion: Broil baguette slices until toasted. Top with caramelized onions and shredded gruyère; broil until the cheese melts. Top with chives.
45. Open-Face Pastrami: Spread Russian dressing on 1 slice pumpernickel bread. Top with a few slices pastrami and 1 slice Swiss cheese. Broil until the cheese melts.
46. BBQ Roast Beef: Spread 1 slice country white bread with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce. Top with 2 slices each cheddar and roast beef, then top with another slice of bread. Brush melted butter on the outside of the sandwich and cook on a grill, turning, until golden.
47. Truly Grilled Cheese: Toss 1 thick slice haloumi cheese with olive oil and chopped oregano. Rub 1 thick slice crusty bread with garlic and brush with olive oil. Cook the cheese and bread separately on a grill, turning, until marked. Rub the bread with a halved tomato and top with the cheese; sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.
48. Brie and Marmalade: Spread 2 slices cinnamon-raisin bread with orange marmalade. Sandwich with 2 slices brie (remove the rind) and cook, flipping once, until golden.
49. Creamy Quince: Spread 2 slices brioche with quince preserves; sandwich with 2 slices triple-cream cheese, such as Saint André, or brie (remove the rind). Cook, flipping once, until golden.
50. Nutella and Banana: Spread 1 slice challah bread or brioche with ricotta; spread another with Nutella. Sandwich with sliced bananas and cook, flipping once, until golden.
Ask any cheese lover and he (or she) will tell you how Havarti cheese is one of the best cheeses from Denmark. This is a semi-firm, creamy cheese developed in and named after a farm. Havarti’s mild flavor is similar to the Gouda or Tilsit and it comes with a lot of irregularities and small holes.
Bite onto a cube of Havarti cheese and you will be surprised at the distinctive flavor that packs a subtle punch. You can find this variety of cheese as plain blocks and flavored with cumin, caraway, dill and other spices.
The credit for creating Havarti goes to the wife of a Danish farmer. She developed this cheese at the turn of the twentieth century after exploring the cheese making art, traveling to many parts of the world. Havarti cheese was a result of her experimentations with different cheese making methods.
Just like most cheeses, Havarti making process also starts with curdling of milk by introducing rennet to it. Curds are drained by pressing into cheese molds and the cheese is then aged. Subtle flavor of this cheese comes from the fact that it is washed rind.
Bite into the flexible Havarti cheese and you will also notice a buttery, creamy flavor. Color of this cheese can be anywhere between pale to creamy yellow. You can find a lot of holes on the cube. It is imperative to allow the cheese to age if you want to enjoy its delightfully subtle and acidic flavor.
Havarti pairs excellently with wine and is often served with crackers and fruits. Many use this cheese as a replacement for strong cheeses like Emmental and Gouda in recipes that require mild cheese. You can find Havarti predominantly used on salads, on sandwiches and in fondue. If you are slim and fit and can afford to bite into the full cream, melt-in-the-mouth cheese, you can choose the enriched Havarti cheese version. If you are on a strict diet, you can enjoy the low fat version of this cheese.
If you are planning on using enriched Havarti in any of your recipes, do so sparingly after ensuring that the dish has the capacity to handle the heavy flavor. Havarti cheese is indeed one of the best cheeses from Denmark. It is commonly found in many parts of the world today. Havarti’s low fat version is especially popular as it retains the very flavor, texture and essence of the enriched version. On the cheese and wine platters, you can find the herbed Havarti. If you wish for a pleasant tasting experience, you can pair your wines with enriched Havarti cheese.