Jarlsberg is a mild-aged cheese with a smooth, rubbery texture and buttery, nutty flavor. It's widely available in its native Norway, the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Jarlsberg is frequently served on cheese boards, deli trays, and sandwiches and can be bought in wedges, slices, or shreds.
- Milk source: Cow
- Country of origin: Norway
- Texture: Semi-firm
- Color: Pale yellow
What Is Jarlsberg?
Jarlsberg, a cheese developed with the characteristics of Swiss Emmentaler cheese and Dutch Gouda in mind, was created during this time. However, it didn't gain widespread popularity until the mid-20th century, when the Agricultural University of Norway created a new and improved version.
Today, Jarlsberg is one of the most commonly seen cheeses in supermarkets, with precut wedges and packs of slices widely available. It's also a staple in restaurants and at deli counters, where it’s sliced thinly for use on sandwiches.
Until recently, Jarlsberg was responsible for 80% of Norway's cheese exports. In 2019, due to the end of agricultural export subsidies, Tine, the company that owns Jarlsberg, made the decision to move production to Ireland for cheese that would be consumed outside of Norway (the company also has production plants in the United States). However, Tine still produces cheese sold on the Norwegian market in Norway.
How Jarlsberg Is Made
Pasteurized cow's milk is warmed in the cheesemaking vat. The cheesemaker adds starter cultures, notably a blend of the mesophilic lactic acid bacteria used in Gouda-style cheeses and the propionibacteria responsible for the signature holes and nutty flavor in Swiss cheeses, like Emmentaler. Next, rennet is added to coagulate the milk into curd.
The gel-like curd is cut, and the curds are stirred and warmed to encourage them to expel whey. When the curds are ready, the whey is drained off, and the curds are hooped into round cheese molds. The cheese is salted and stored in the aging cave to mature. Jarlsberg is typically packaged and sold after three months.
If you can't get your hands on brand-name Jarlsberg, any widely available Swiss-style cheese can be swapped in, such as Emmentaler or young Gruyère. Other mildly flavored melting cheeses like mild cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella can be used in a pinch, but keep in mind that a different cheese may change the flavor profile of the dish slightly.
Use Jarlsberg as you would other mild Alpine cheeses. It can be sliced and served on hot or cold sandwiches or on cheese boards or snack plates. Jarlsberg melts well and can be grated into casseroles, quiches, frittatas, gratins, and other baked dishes to enhance flavor and texture. It can also be used in pasta dishes; melted into soups, creamy sauces, or fondue; and grated for use in cheese balls and dips.
Store Jarlsberg in its original packaging in your refrigerator. Unopened, wedges of Jarlsberg should last in your refrigerator for up to three weeks. After opening, store the cheese tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or sealed in a plastic baggie or another airtight container in your fridge. After opening, the cheese should last up to 10 days.
If a small amount of surface mold grows on your Jarlsberg, you can trim it off before eating. Take care to remove the moldy portion completely, and avoid running your knife through the mold, which may spread it to other parts of the cheese.
While most cheeses should not be frozen, Jarlsberg can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Keep it in its original packaging, or wrap the cheese tightly in foil or plastic wrap and seal the wrapped cheese inside an airtight plastic bag.
Thaw frozen Jarlsberg in the refrigerator overnight before using. Because freezing will affect the texture of the cheese and can cause it to become crumbly and brittle, it's best to melt thawed cheese into dishes rather than eat it fresh.
Types of Jarlsberg
Jarlsberg is available in its original format as well as low-fat, extra-aged, and rindless versions.
Can You Eat the Rind?
Cuts of Jarlsberg often include the plastic-coated rind emblazoned with the brand’s classic red, blue, and yellow logo. This rind is inedible and should be removed and discarded. In other cases, Jarlsberg is aged and sold without a rind, and the entire piece of cheese may be eaten.