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Havarti - Attempt 1

For my next cultured cheese, I made a batch of Havarti cheese. This was my biggest cheese yet, using 8l of milk, for which I had to borrow my dad's biggest soup pot. It was supposed to be dill Havarti, but due to a lack of dill available even for ready money, it turned into thyme Havarti.

The process went smoothly, but I need more practice at cutting the curds, as the 1/2" pieces that were called for ended up being about two to two and a half times the size. Then came the challenge of the balancing act again when draining the cheese in its mould, using a couple of knives and boards to help buckets of sand balance on top of the curds I was pressing.

All in all, it worked pretty well, but I failed to get a particularly square end on the side that had been uppermost at the start of the draining. In consequence, I decided to cut it off square, and have the off-cut fresh and age the rest, allowing me to try both versions.

I don't think I've ever actually had real Havarti before, so I have nothing to compare this attempt to, But I think it worked pretty well. I didn't like the taste of the cheese fresh much on its own, finding it a little bland, but it worked really well melted on little toasties or with veg.

The aged version came out well, but I had trouble with surface mould (which didn't all stay on the surface but migrated into some of the shallower "eyes" or holes in the cheese. This is probably because I decided the best place to age the cheese was in the basement, but it needed to be turned daily. With it in the basement, that didn't happen with the regularity it was supposed to. When I brought it back up, I washed off the mould with a brine solution and then scrubbed it off as best I could. I left the cheese to dry again for the rest of the day, and have since simply trimmed the mould before eating.

Predictably, the aged cheese has a stronger, saltier taste than the fresh cheese did. I like this one raw, but it also works beautifully on little toasties, especially with Green Tomato Chutney from last year and sliced shallots (although Little One only sucks on the shallots before trying to hand them over to me to eat). With homemade pickles and a sliced apple, these made a great lunch! We have an actual Dane coming to visit, so I will see what his verdict is on the cheese for some real feedback.



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