Havarti, the Famous Mild Cheese from Denmark
Havarti or Cream Havarti (Fløde Havarti in Danish) is a semi-soft Danish cow's milk cheese. It is a table cheese that can be sliced, grilled, or melted. Havarti cheese was created by Hanne Nielsen, who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard in Øverød, Denmark, in the mid-19th century. Havarti is made by introducing rennet to milk, thus promoting curdling. The curds are drained by being pressed into cheese mould and then aged. Havarti is a washed-curd cheese, which contributes to its subtle flavour. Havarti is a smooth, interior-ripened cheese that is rindless and of a cream-to-yellow hue, depending on its degree of aging. It has tiny, irregular openings ("eyes") distributed throughout, like smaller versions of the holes inherent in Swiss cheese.
Havarti has a buttery aroma and can be somewhat sharp in the stronger varieties. The taste is also quite buttery, and Havartis range in type from somewhat sweet to very sweet, and it is only slightly acidic. Havarti cheese is usually aged about three months, though when the cheese is older it becomes more salty and has a taste-factor reminiscent of hazelnuts. When left at room temperature, Havarti will soften quickly.
The original Havarti is different from flødehavarti ("cream havarti") which distinguishes itself by being made of high-pasteurized milk. This means that the whey proteins that would otherwise be eliminated during production remain in the curd, thereby raising yields but reducing taste and texture. Cream havarti usually ripens very little, because their whey- proteins cause undesired anomalies (strange taste and/or appearance) during prolonged ripening.
Cream Havarti is pleasantly mild and slightly salty, making it a favourite for grilled cheese. It is easy to slice thinly, and therefore ideal for serving with crackers or biscuits. Most Havarti on the market is Cream Havarti.