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 initially created by Hanne Nielsen who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, in Øverød, north of Copenhagen, in the mid-19th century. Havarti 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.
Havarti is an interior-ripened cheese that is rindless, smooth and slightly bright-surfaced with a cream to yellow color depending on type. It has very small and irregular openings ("eyes") distributed in the mass.
Havarti has a buttery aroma and can be somewhat sharp in the stronger varieties, much like Swiss cheese. The taste is buttery, and from somewhat sweet to very sweet, and it is slightly acidic. It is typically aged about three months, though when the cheese is older it becomes more salty and tastes like hazelnut. When left at room temperature the cheese tends to soften quickly.
The original Havarti is different from the otherwise popular 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, since the remaining whey proteins cause problems (off-taste, odd appearance) during prolonged ripening.
Flavored variants of Havarti are also available, such as cranberry, garlic, caraway, dill, basil, coconut, and jalapeño.
Havarti is popularly matched with lesser-oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or light-bodied Pinot Noir wine and occasionally accompanied with figs; smoked turkey; raisins; walnuts; hearty bread; pears; apples. The cheese also is an excellent snack on (sometimes salted) thin wheat crackers.