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JARLSBERG® CHEESE


What is this cheese?
A Swiss cheese that has run astray ?
It has the holes of a Swiss cheese and smells kind of "Swiss-ish."  Does it come from beautiful green mountain pastures in the Alps and do the Swiss claim it as one of their own?

Many people do think it is a Swiss cheese BUT not the Swiss
.. Nor do the Norwegians think it's 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."

AND

"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.

So, what is Jarlsberg ® cheese?:

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.


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:


A path to making a 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:
    1. It slows the acid production to produce a less acid cheese.
    2. 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:
    1. A cool ripening phase shortly after the salting is finished to develop the initial protein development. This will enhance the elasticity of the curd.
    2. A warm room phase to allow the Propionic bacteria to produce gas and develop the internal holes.
    3. 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.

A recipe for making a Norwegian Style Cheese


Before you begin:

You will need:
4
gallons of milk (not ultra-pasturized)
1/4 tsp of our MM100 or Flora Danica culture
1/16 tsp Propionic bacteria
1/2 tsp liquid rennet (2.5 ml)
Salt, a saturated brine
A good thermometer
A knife to cut the curds, and a spoon or ladle to stir the curds
Molds- Large Mold-M2 or Large Tomme
A colander and butter muslin to drain the curds
Medium Mesh Ripening Mat for the consolidation of the curds
A Cheese Press or weights to apply sufficient weight for consolidation of the curds

Everything needs to be clean and sanitized

Calcium chloride for pasteurized cold stored milk


Acidifying and heating the milk:

Begin by heating the milk to 98F (37C). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove, make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats

Once the milk is at 98F, the culture can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.

Allow the bacteria to work in the milk for about 45 minutes. The milk should be held at the target temperature and kept still during this time.


Coagulation with rennet:

Next add about 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) of single strength liquid rennet.

The milk now needs to set still for 30 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temperature drops a few degrees during this time. You will notice that the milk begins to thicken at about 15 minutes, but allow the firm curd to develop before cutting.

While you are waiting, make sure you sanitize the mold and cloth for the final cheese.

Cutting curds and releasing the whey:

Once a firm curd forms, the cutting may begin. Use a long knife to cut the surface to about 1 inch in a crosshatch pattern as shown below. Let this rest for 3-5 minutes while the whey rises in the cuts. Then you can use a ladle, spoon, or even a thin wired whisk to cut the curd into large pea sized pieces as evenly as possible. Continue stirring for about 20 minutes. This will allow the curd to release whey and firm up before the final heating.

Washing and cooking the curds:

Now it is time to begin drying out the curds. This will be done by increasing the heat slowly to 102F (39C). The heating will be done by first removing a portion of the whey and adding back warm water over a period of 20-30 minutes.
Begin by allowing the curd to settle to the bottom of the pot and then removing 30% of the whey. Stir the curds well again. This step will remove much of the lactose from the process and limit the bacteria growth and acid production (a sweeter cheese).


Removing the whey and stirring the curds before adding warm water

Next, add back a volume of warm water that is about 1/2 of what was removed.  This should be at about 140F.  This water should be added slowly to the curds while slowly stirring, just enough to keep them separate and moving.  The water addition should take about 20-30 minutes and the final temperature should be about 102F.


Adding the wash water and cooking the curds.

The next step will be to hold the curd at the final cook temperature while stirring for about 30-45 minutes.

The final curds should be cooked well through and should be examined to make sure that enough moisture has been removed. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers.

When this point is reached, the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey.


Separating the curds:

The curd is now ready to be consolidated.  For this cheese we would like to start with a nice closed body and this can be accomplished by consolidating the curds under the whey with a little pressure.  To do this, I remove much of the whey leaving about 1-2 inches above the curd.  I then use a large piece of our Medium Mesh Ripening Mat to bring the curd mass together as in the photos below.


Consolidating the curd mass.

I then simply roll the curd mass into the sanitized press cloth, grab the cloth by the corners and quickly drop into the mold. The mold, cloth and curd mass are now immersed in the whey and using a light hand pressure, I press into the molds.


Transferring to the cloth and mold.

The follower can now be placed on top and the weight of a gallon of warm water (~ 8 lbs) will give it enough weight to consolidate for about 10-15 minutes. This extra step will improve the closeness of the curd in the final cheese.

Pressing:

At the end of this "pre-pressing," the newly formed cheese can be removed from the whey placed in a draining area where it will continue to press.  But first the curd should be consolidated enough to be removed from the mold and cloth, turned over, rewrapped, and placed back in the mold for further pressing. The initial weight should continue as 8 lbs for 20-30 minutes before it is turned and rewrapped.
Press weight is increased to 25 lbs now. This will continue for another 4 hours and the cheese should be turned and wrapped at 1 hour intervals taking patience in keeping the cloth smooth for a nice smooth surface in the finished cheese.

At each turn you will notice the cheese has formed a smoother surface and rests lower in the mold.

Because the bacteria is still working and acid needs to develop, the cheese needs to be kept as warm as possible (80-85F) for a further 2-3 hours and then allowed to drop to 61-64F overnight with no weight but still in the mold.


Salting:

You should have a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese.
You will find all of the details you need on brining here.
A simple brine formula is:
1 gallon of water to which is added 2.25 lbs of salt, 1tbs. calcium chloride (30% solution), and 1 tsp. white vinegar.

The cheese now needs to sit in the brine for about 8 hours (~ 2 hrs per pound).
The cheese will float above the brine surface, so sprinkle another teaspoon or 2 of salt on the top surface of the cheese.
Flip the cheese and re-salt the surface about half way through the brine period.

At the end of the brine bath, wipe the surface and allow the cheese to surface dry for a day or two if waxing. The surface will darken somewhat during this time.
The other more traditional option is to develop a natural rind. This is simply done by brushing the cheese and wiping with a light salt brine to keep the molds away. This will need to be done daily initially but less frequently as the cheese rind dries down a little.

Aging:

Phase1:
This is the initial cool phase and will begin as soon as the cheese has been removed from the brine and dried off.  The aging space should be 52-54F and 92-95% moisture.  During this phase, the proteins will begin their initial breakdown and the cheese will begin developing its elastic texture.  This is very important to provide a body for the gas entrapment in the next phase.  This should last for 7-10 days but may be extended to 14 days.

Phase2:
This phase is to encourage the development of the gas and flavor producing Propionic bacteria.  The temperature should now be increased to room temperature 68-72F and 92-95% moisture.  I do this simply by placing the cheese in a covered plastic enclosure for moisture and moving the cheese to a warm place.  This will need to continue for 4-5 weeks.  During this period the cheese needs to be turned daily and you should notice the swelling of the cheese.

Phase3:
Finally the cheese needs to be returned to the cold space again as in phase 1.  During this period the cheese will continue to develop its flavor and texture as the fat and proteins continue to break down due to enzyme activity.  The cheese should be ready at 3-4 months but may be ripened longer for more character.



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In Peace,
Ricki, the cheese queen

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