Monday, June 27, 2011

Cheese: Havarti

Havarti cheese originated in Denmark in an area north of Copenhagen. It is made from cow's milk by introducing rennet to cause it to curdle. The curds are pressed into molds which are drained and then aged. It is rindless, semi-soft, smooth and cream color
to yellow color 
and has irregular holes or "eyes" throughout. It is usually aged about three months and is somewhat sweet. It is often made with additional ingredients such as dill, jalapeno, garlic, caraway seeds and cranberry, which provide a nice addition to the otherwise mild cheese. With age, it gets a slightly acidic flavor. It is a great cheese for sandwiches, in fondue, in salads or on crackers. I would compare it texturally with Gouda, although Gouda is a little harder. It has a very pleasing mild texture and softens quite quickly at room temperature. It is the kind of "comfort" cheese you can eat a lot of. I have had it several times recently. I particularly enjoyed a version with dill. 
The dill taste really stood out and made for a wonderful combination. I also had a version with jalapeno which I did not like as well. 
I ate it in combination with some head cheese and it dominated the head cheese. That particular version was very acidic, which with the jalapeno, made it extremely strong.

I recently ate some Havarti from Trader Joe's that was aged 9 months.
It was straight Havarti without any of the pub-style add-ins. As with most cheese, I liked it much more than the lesser aged versions. It was a little firmer, not as goopy and overwhelming in the mouth, and had a sharper taste. 

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