Although Denmark is a relatively small country with only about 5 million inhabitants, Danish cheese is world-famous. Products such as Esrom, Havarti, or Danablu are loved by gourmets all over the world. So, let’s get to know more about danish cheese types.
Due to its location between two seas, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Denmark is climatically favored. The soil is fertile and the Danish farmers produce much more every year than the local population can eat at all. This is especially true for milk, dairy products, and cheese. The convenient location between the two seas and as a connection between Germany and Scandinavia also favors Denmark’s status as one of the largest food exporters in the world. Denmark cheese is a well-known product, loved for its amazing and diverse tastes.
The Danish cheese tradition dates back to the time when almost every farm processed the excess milk into cheese so as not to have to pour away the precious milk. Depending on the milk used, the production process, the climatic stipulations, and the type and duration of maturation, different types of products developed. With the beginning of industrialization, some of the danish cheese types were mainly produced industrially over time. However, there are still numerous farmers and small businesses in Denmark who produce danish cheeses according to old craft traditions.
Role Models From Abroad
Many Danish kinds of cheese, especially industrially produced ones, are based on foreign models. First, the influence came from Germany and Holland, later also from England, France, and Switzerland. Since globalization and the ever-increasing merger of the European Community, cheese according to recipes from Italy and Greece has also been produced in Denmark.
Nevertheless, for most of the products produced in the country, the Danes have further developed, refined, and adapted the recipes of their products to Danish conditions, so that one can rightfully speak of “Danish cheeses” for most products made in Denmark.
You now know a little bit of history. It is high time to get to know more about cheese types and their peculiarities.
This is the star of Danish products: this smoked cheese is the only Danish product not inspired by foreign ones. It is smooth, with a delicate smoky note, and a light and airy consistency. This semi soft danish cheese was born in the 19th century in the magical atmosphere of farms on the island of Fionie, Baltic Sea. This is why it is even known as “Fynsk Rygeost”, namely “Fionie smoked cheese”.
Some even think that this type of cheese dates back to Viking times. Gundestrup Dairy, renowned and awarded for its traditional smoked cheese production, makes its cheeses available to gourmets both in supermarkets and in selected restaurants, such as Noma. Smoked cheese, traditionally popular in summer, tastes delicious in a salad or on a piece of freshly baked rye bread, topped with chives and fresh radish.
As its name suggests, this traditional cheese is also native to the island of Fionie. It is a semi-hard cheese with cow’s milk, whose sweet taste is reminiscent of buckwheat. Semi hard Danish cheese soft enough to eat with your fingers, yet it has a flavor that is sometimes pleasantly sharp, and a texture that varies from smooth to chalky. It is ripened for several months and often used to garnish salads or simply enjoyed alone on a slice of bread.
Now let’s move on to the most consumed cheese in Denmark: Danbo, often called “Denmark’s national cheese”. After all, this north sea cheese represents about 13% of the country’s total cheese production! It is a delicious sweet and slightly acidic cheese made from cow’s milk. In 2017, Danbo received the European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) label, which means that at least one stage of the production process must take place in Denmark.
This is one of the most popular types of danish cheese. Esrom’s production is also protected by the PGI and is limited to Denmark. This medium-hard cow’s milk cheese, produced in rectangular blocks, is known for its yellowish rind and intense taste. Its name comes from a monastery in the north of the island of Zeeland, where it is still produced today according to a traditional recipe.
Now let’s get acquainted with Havarti, a Danish cheese protected by the PGI appellation of the EU. It takes its name from Havartigaard, Hanne Nielsen’s farm north of Copenhagen that first produced it in the mid-19th century. At present, danish Havarti is still produced from pasteurized cow’s milk with no less than 3 months of ripening. The longer the ripening period, the stronger its taste becomes. A particularly delicious version is the ” Gammel Knas”, namely “old crunchy”. This name is due to the crispy protein crystals it contains and the maturation of at least 24 months. Havarti is accompanied by apples, honey, marinated vegetables, and red wine.
Danablu is a world-famous Denmark blue cheese. The production of Danablu, or Danish Blue cheese, is limited to Denmark by the PGI protected geographical indication. This soft blue cheese was born on the Roquefort model. During production, Danablu is pricked so that the blue marbling spreads throughout the cheese over 5 to 6 weeks of storage. Its aroma is strong and its taste is spicy and somewhat salty. Danablu is ideal in cooking, but can also be enjoyed on crackers or added to salads. Danish blue cheese brands are numerous, which shows that this danish cheese for true Cheese lover.
Mycella is produced on the beautiful Baltic island of Bornholm, where it is stored for several months. It is a semi soft cheese with its sweet, slightly salty taste, with a smoky note, it is often called “Danish Gorgonzola”. Mycella is perfect as a protagonist of a cheese platter or in salads.
We love blue cheese so much that we have another one for you! Behind the poetic name of Bluet there is a creamy and spreadable blue cheese with a sweet, slightly salty, and aromatic taste. With a yellowish-white color, it is produced from pasteurized cow’s milk and is characterized by the presence of holes. He is native to northern Jutland. Look for the “Blazå Kornblomst” in Danish supermarkets. Taste it during a brunch, or on a cheese platter to accompany wines with the appropriate sweetness.
Vesterhavsost is a “North Sea cheese”, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese. It is ripened for several weeks in salty sea air to transform it into cheese with a slightly salty taste and nuts. Vesterhavsost is known as “the Danish version of the Gouda”.
Another cheese bearing the name of its place of origin is Samsø, from the wonderful island of the same name in Kattegat. Samsø looks like Emmental, but its taste is sweeter, with a note of nuts, almost sweet and sour. It can be eaten with bread and salty cookies, but it can be a special topping on your pizza, in gratins and hot sandwiches. Versatile and delicious: ideal for meals during the holidays!
Remember this cheese for the next outing in town, in the countryside, on the river: Maribo takes its name from the city on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. After about four months of ripening, it turns into a hard and dry product, with many irregular holes. It is protected by a layer of yellow wax. It has a fairly strong aroma and a taste that is somewhat acidic. Maribo cheese is sometimes seasoned with cumin.
We complete this Danish cheese platter with another one produced of cow’s milk: Molbo from the Mols region, on the Djursland Peninsula to the Danish Baltic Sea. This pale yellow cheese has a fresh and delicate aroma and a slightly spicy salty taste. Because of the layer of red wax that covers it, cheese is often compared to Edam.
Understandably, these are not all danish cheese types that exist. We have selected the most popular ones to help you get a better understanding of what is offered on the market. For example, we haven’t mentioned Tybo, a popular danish cheese with caraway seeds, and danish Tilsit cheese. So, explore them and other danish cheese types yourself, taste at least some of them and you will be surprised how amazing they are.