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A true Havarti is very different from the deli-style cheese many Americans are used to. My eyes were first opened to the real character of Havarti in Copenhagen, before I’d ever tried making cheese. The Danes laughed as I oohed and aahed over the Havarti; it was sweet and creamy, with a faint funky flavor that I hadn’t tasted in the American counterparts.
From Milk to Cheese: 18 hours plus 40 minutes to make, 10 to 14 weeks to age
Yield: 1 (3- to 4-pound) cheese
- Large stockpot
- Thermometer with at least a 5-inch stem
- 13-inch stainless steel flat perforated ladle
- Curd knife with a 12-inch blade
- Cheese form (7 inches in diameter and 6 inches high)
- Cheesecloth, cut to approximately 1 square foot
- Small, heavy saucepan
- Cooling rack
- Baking sheet
- Large draining mat
- Storage container
- 2 gallons whole cow’s milk
- 1/4 teaspoon mesophilic lactic acid starter culture
- Pinch Flora Danica culture
- 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride dissolved in 1/4 cup cool, non-chlorinated water
- 1/4 teaspoon dried animal or microbial rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool, non-chlorinated water (or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse non-iodized salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Saturated salt brine: 2 1/2 pounds non-iodized salt dissolved in 1 gallon non-chlorinated water
- 3% brine: 1.9 ounces non-iodized salt dissolved in 8 cups non-chlorinated water
Beer pairing: Wheat beer
Wine pairing: Mild, crisp white wine, such as Vouvray or Chablis
Photo from Adobe Stock/teen00000
- WARM THE MILK: In a stockpot, heat the milk to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in a warm water bath.
- CULTURE THE MILK: Add the cultures and let them hydrate on the surface for a minute. Then, gently stir for 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated. Let sit for 1 hour. Add the calcium chloride and mix in for 30 seconds. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- COAGULATE: Add the rennet and stir with an up and down motion for 30 seconds. Let rest for 45 to 60 minutes.
- CUT THE CURD: Cut into 1/4-inch cubes using the straight and angled technique.
- WASH THE CURD: Remove 8 cups of whey and add the same amount of warmed water (86 degrees Fahrenheit, the same temperature as the curds and whey) along with the salt to the remaining whey.
- COOK THE CURD: Raise the temperature of the curds and whey to 100 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of 20 to 30 minutes in a warm water bath. If your tap water isn’t hot enough, boil water separately and pour it incrementally into the bath.
- PRESS THE CHEESE: Line a form with cheesecloth. Form the curd while it’s still submerged in the diluted whey. Knead the curd together as a mass with spatulas, then use the smaller heavy-bottomed saucepan to press down on the curd mass under the diluted whey. If the saucepan isn’t keeping the curd submerged, fill it with water to increase the weight. Pour off all the liquid and place the curd mass in the prepared form. Cover the curd with a follower and start with just enough weight on top to cause the curd to visibly expel whey.
Note: If you don’t have a follower, you can use a small plate or lid. Flip the form and reapply the follower and twice the original weight onto the second side for 30 minutes. Continue flipping and applying more pressure, increasing the pressure and time by 25% to 30% each time, for 6 to 8 hours. You have pressed enough when the rind has no openings and the curd holds its shape when lifted from the form.
- SALT THE CHEESE: Remove the cheesecloth and weigh the cheese. In the stockpot, prepare the saturated salt brine. Submerge the cheese in the brine for 2 hours per pound of cheese, 6 to 8 hours, depending on your yield. Sprinkle salt on the exposed side of the wheel and flip to submerge that side every 2 hours.
- AGE THE CHEESE: Wipe the wheel dry and age it on a draining mat at 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 85% humidity. In a storage container, prepare the 3% brine solution. Turn the wheel daily and wash with the brine solution every 2 to 3 days for 10 to 14 weeks.
Note: The regularity of the wash should be in response to the moisture and the development of light orange bacteria on the rind. Wash more often if the rind is dry and cracking (and/or lower the salt content of the brine in your next make). Wash less often if the rind becomes too sticky and develops a rancid odor.
Target Flavor and Texture: The flavor should be mild and milky, with a faint funkiness in the background. Texturally the cheese should be sticky and semi-firm.
Storage: After aging it is customary to vigorously wipe down the washed, sticky rind until it looks clean and close to the color of the paste. Then wrap in aluminum foil to store. The cheese will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator once cut, before growing mold on the cut face. Trim off any developing mold, and the cheese will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Also from The Beginner’s Guide to Cheesemaking:
- Cheesemaking Ingredients: Acid, Cultures, Rennet, Water, Mold and Yeast, Salt
- Manchego Recipe
- Beer-Washed Cheese Recipe
- Leaf-Wrapped Cheese Recipe
Reprinted with permission from The Beginner’s Guide to Cheesemaking by Elena R. Santogade and published by Rockridge Press, 2017.