Havarti is a semi-soft, Danish-style cheese made from cow's milk and can be easily sliced, grilled or melted. Havarti has a smooth surface, a creamy texture and a sweet, buttery flavor. Young havarti cheese is very mild flavored while older varieties have a saltier, slightly acidic flavor with hints of hazelnut. Havarti is often produced with flavor variants such as dill, chives, cranberry, garlic and jalapeno. Havarti cheese was invented in the mid-1800s by Hanne Nielsen, a Danish cheesemaker, who named it after her farm, Havartigaard.
Havarti is a washed-curd cheese. After separating the whey, the curds are washed to remove more of the lactose sugar, giving the cheese a milder flavor.
The tiny openings in havarti are the product of microbial metabolism – the carbon dioxide gas released by the bacteria in the cheese which gives havarti its flavor. As the cheese ages, it hardens around the bubbles of carbon dioxide, resulting in small openings that are visible when the cheese is cut or sliced.