Havarti cheese is a semi-soft Danish cheese that is known for its smooth, buttery consistency. This makes it a go-to when it comes to grilling and melting cheese and makes it perfect for anything from quesadillas, cheeseburgers, and of course grilled cheeses.
Havarti is easily recognizable with its smooth, pale yellow appearance and tiny holes throughout. It’s traditionally made from cow’s milk and with the addition of Rennet to curdle the milk and deliver a beautiful buttery consistency. Havarti is closely related to Cheddar cheese, especially aged Havarti. However, Havarti has a stronger taste and aroma and is more ideal for melting than Cheddar is.
Havarti is also known to have a slight tartness throughout it and sharp notes of hazelnut as well. It’s typically packaged at the grocery store already sliced since it’s commonly used for sandwiches. Havarti is also great for topping off salads as well. There are various types of Havarti cheeses available with many different flavors including cranberry, garlic, dill, basil, sour cream, bacon, red pepper, and even coconut.
It’s typically aged three or more months and the older the cheese gets; the saltier and hazelnut flavors are pronounced. Otherwise, it can be known to be very sweet and slightly acidic cheese. If left at room temperature, it tends to soften very quickly.
Making your own Havarti cheese isn’t too difficult and is a great cheese to incorporate in your breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Aging: 3 Months +
Skill Level: Intermediate
- 2 ½ -gallon whole cow’s milk or milk of choice
- 1/4 tsp mesophilic starter
- ⅛ tsp mesophilic aroma starter i.e. Flora Dancia
- Rennet diluted in ¼ cup of water (follow manufacturer’s instructions)
- ¼ cup of cheese salt
Heat the Milk & Add Cultures
- Heat your milk up to 90F. When it reaches 90F you can start to add your culture in and stir until combined.
- You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and stir to avoid burning.
- Allow your milk mixture to sit for a couple of minutes.
Add the Rennet
- Now it’s time to add the diluted Rennet. You should add the diluted Rennet to ¼ tsp of boiled and cooled water.
- Allow this mixture to rest for 45 minutes- 1 hour. We recommend using the Flocculation Method to acquire the best results
Cut the Curd
- Cut the curd into 1 cm size cubes
- Allow the curd to rest for 5 minutes
Cook the Curds
- Stir the curd with a whisk for about 10 minutes or until the curds are regular size. Make sure not to cut them too small with the whisk.
- Pour out about ⅓ of the whey and replace immediately with 8-12 cups of hot water at 175-180F
- Make sure to add enough hot water that the temperature is between 98-100F. The cooler the temperature the softer the cheese will be. However, it’s important to still stay within these temperatures.
- Stir continuously to avoid any clumping
- Add cheese salt and continue to cook for about 25-30 minutes.
Draining & Flavor the Curd
- Transfer the curds into a colander that’s lined with cheesecloth.
- Add any herbs or flavor to your cheese
- Popular spices include dill, cumin, and peppers
Press the Cheese
- Initially start pressing your cheese at 10 lbs. for 30 minutes
- Unwrap your cheese and flip it. Rewrap it before adding additional weight
- Press your cheese with 20 lbs. for 2 hours
- Unwrap and flip your cheese again and press with the same weight for another hour. Repeat this step twice.
- Submerge saturated brine for 6 hours.
- Regularly turn the brine to ensure all surfaces are covered
- Remove and allow your cheese to dry at 80-85% humidity at 57F for 5-7 days or until the cheese is completely dry to the touch, but not cracked.
Age the Cheese
- When the cheese is completely dry, you can wax your cheese and age for at least 2 -3 months in your appropriate aging location.
- The longer you age your cheese, the saltier and more flavorful it will be.