Introduction

Several semihard cheese varieties are produced from pasteurized bovine milk in the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (Table 1). The Danish cheeses are often ripened with a smear surface microflora, giving them a special flavor note from sulfuric aroma compounds. These cheeses are among the semihard cheeses with the highest moisture contents. Propionic acid bacteria are used in combination with mesophilic starter in some Norwegian and Swedish varieties that have a smooth, sliceable texture with large round eyes and sweet, nutty, and sharp flavor components. Several cheese varieties, especially from Sweden, are ripened by no other bacteria than the mesophilic starter and lactobacilli from the environment. These cheeses have a mild to aromatic flavor, often with a sweet note and a pronounced flavor of diacetyl, if they are consumed, as most of them are, at a quite young age (from 2 to 6 months). Older cheeses develop a more aromatic and mature flavor. Those cheeses all have a semihard, sliceable texture that easily melts in the mouth. Much Scandinavian cheese is consumed sliced on bread.

Scandinavia has a long history of cheesemaking that can be traced to at least the 12th or 13th century. Milk production and cheesemaking may have been crucial for human survival in the northern parts of Europe. In many areas situated too far north for successful grain and vegetable production, it was still possible to have milk animals. The cows did not give milk during winter, and cheese manufacturing was a way to preserve the nutrients for wintertime. Production of open-texture cheese from renneted curd was described in literature by monks in mid-Sweden during the 16th century. Semihard cheeses that have their origin in this production are today Esrom and Havarti in Denmark as well as Svecia, Prast, and Hushallsot in Sweden.

During a period about 200 to 300 years ago, the Swiss cheese with a closed texture and large round eyes became very popular in Europe. Swiss cheesemakers were invited to teach local cheesemakers all over Europe how to make cheese with the Swiss method. The cheeses never turned out exactly the same at a new place, and several new cheese varieties were created. The Swiss cheesemakers that came to Scandinavia met some unexpected problems, and the cheeses sometimes needed 5 to 7 years of work to be developed into attractive cheese varieties. During the first trials, no or very poor acidification occurred

Table 1 Scandinavian Semihard Cheese Varieties Made from Bovine Milk Using Calf Rennet and Mesophilic DL-Starter

Name

MNFS %

FDM %

Adjunct culture

Country

Open texture

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