Norwegian Style Cheese Info

The Worlds Most Famous Baby Swiss

That's right! This is a cheese from several degrees latitude north of Switzerland. It comes from the pastures and the dairy school of Norway. However, it is still presented in this country with a confusing Swiss provenance. As in these commercial descriptions:

Jarlsberg® cheese is a mild, Swiss Emmenthaller-style, cow's milk cheese that has large irregular holes. The worlds most famous Baby Swiss, Jarlsberg® cheese has the consistency texture and hole formation of Swiss Emmenthaller but its flavor is more nut-like and sweeter.

It's not an Emmenthaller and it's not a Baby Swiss, which incidentally is American and not Swiss.

In actuality, this is a cheese with its own unique style - truly bred and developed in Norway's own National Dairy School.

A Bit of History

This cheese was first introduced in the early 19th century in Norway with the help of Swiss cheese makers. The cheese was successful during the mid to late 19th century but by the early 20th century began to slide in popularity. In the 1950's the dairy school began to develop their modern interpretation and to this day they do try to keep the process veiled in secrecy. This ' modern' Jarlsberg® cheese did not really appear on store shelves until the 1960's but today it is a huge part of Norwegian Dairy production. It is also produced in the US under special permit and they still keep their layers of the 'secret recipe' for this cheese.

What is Jarlsberg®

Jarlsberg® cheese is often associated with being an Alpine style cheese but a true Alpine cheese such as Emmenthaller (we call it Swiss cheese in America) is made using a very different process and technology than the Jarlsberg® cheese process. The true Alpine style cheeses are made with a higher temperature bacteria ( Thermophilic) and a lot more heat than the Jarlsberg® cheese. They are designed for longer periods of storage resulting in a more complex flavor. Jarlsberg® cheese is a much milder, sweeter cheese with a nutty flavor. The process also deviates from the traditional Alpine process by working at much lower temperatures with a Mesophilic type of bacteria culture. It also incorporates a procedure where a portion of the sweet whey is removed and replaced with warm water to produce a sweeter and softer body cheese. The actual process for this cheese follows a hybrid path somewhere between the sweeter cheese of Gouda and the Alpine style of Switzerland.

A path to making a norwegian style cheese

We cannot provide a recipe for JARLSBERG ® cheese, as to make JARLSBERG ® cheese requires the use of protected cultures owned by the manufacturer. instead, we provide below a recipe for making Norwegian Style cheese.

The detailed process of making this cheese has been considered a secret that the Norwegians have tried to keep under wraps and they only allow specially selected cheese facilities to produce their cheese. However, there has been sufficient evidence to develop a cheese that is a pretty good copy of the real McCoy.

Here are the considerations for making this cheese:

  • The acidifying culture to use is quite similar to those used in the Gouda style cheese production. This is not a Thermophilic culture as listed in other Jarlsberg guidelines but is an aromatic style culture such as the MM100 or Flora Danica.
  • The cheese has an additional culture added to produce gas internally (Propionic) which produces the gas holes that make it look like a Swiss style cheese.
  • The texture and higher moisture are developed by removing some of the whey (lactose) and adding back a limited amount of warm water (washed curd). This accomplishes 2 things:
    • It slows the acid production to produce a less acid cheese.
    • It dries the curd out a little more as it heats the curds.
  • The acid development must be slow and not very extensive at the time the whey is removed and the cheese is formed. This will preserve the calcium in the curd and hence an elastic texture in the cheese.
  • The final molded cheese before salt must be much less acid than most other cheeses because the Propionic bacteria does not develop well in an acid condition. The salt must also be reduced to encourage the Propionic bacteria.
  • The aging of the cheese is in 3 phases:
    • A cool ripening phase shortly after the salting is finished to develop the initial protein development. This will enhance the elasticity of the curd.
    • A warm room phase to allow the Propionic bacteria to produce gas and develop the internal holes.
    • The final cool room phase to finish the flavor and texture development in the final cheese.
  • The cheese will also ripen much earlier than a true Alpine style cheese. It will be ready for the table in about 3-4 months.