Jarlsberg cheese

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Jarlsberg cheese.jpg
Country of originNorway
Source of milkCows
Named afterJarlsberg Manor
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Jarlsberg (/ˈjɑːrlzbɜːrɡ/ YARLZ-burg, Norwegian: [ˈjɑ̀ːlsbærɡ]) is a mild cheese made from cow's milk, with large, regular eyes, originating from Jarlsberg, Norway.[1] It is produced in Norway, as well as in Ireland[2] and the US state of Ohio,[3] licensed from Norwegian dairy producers. It is classified as a Swiss-type cheese.


Jarlsberg cheese has a yellow wax rind (outer layer) and a semi-firm yellow interior. It is a mild, buttery cheese.[4] The flavour has been described as "clean and rich, with a slightly sweet and nutty flavour".[1] It is an all-purpose cheese, used for both cooking and eating as a snack. It has a characteristic smooth, shiny-yellow body, and a creamy, supple texture. It is aged a minimum of three months[5] and is distinguished by medium to large holes. Some variations are aged a minimum of 9, 12 or 15 months.[6][7] It is usually produced in 10-kilogram (22 lb) wheels with an approximate diameter of 330 millimetres (13 in) and a height of 95 to 105 millimetres (3.7 to 4.1 in).[1] The characteristic holes or "eyes" are the result of the action of the bacteria Propionibacterium freudenreichii which naturally occurs in milk and is added back into the cheese during production according to a closely guarded secret formula.[1][8][2]


The history of this cheese can be traced back to the middle 1850s.[9] Anders Larsen Bakke (1815–1899), a farmer and pioneer in Norway's dairy industry, produced cheese in the village of Våle in what was then the county of Jarlsberg and Larviks Amt (now Vestfold), 80 km (50 mi) south of Oslo.[9] The cheese shares similarities with Emmental, introduced to Vestfold by Swiss cheese makers during the 1830s.[4] The cheese was first noted in the annual county report of Jarlsberg and Larviks Amt in 1855.[9] After several years of popularity marked by a large volume of production Jarlsberg disappeared from the market.[4]

Modern Jarlsberg cheese was developed in 1956 by Ole Martin Ystgaard of the Dairy Institute at the Agricultural University of Norway.[10] Ystgaard's interest was sparked by the thesis of a dairy sciences student, Per Sakshaug, on the cheese historically made in Vestfold.[9] It was named for a Norwegian nobleman, Count Wedel Jarlsberg, who owned land near Oslo in an area where an earlier version of the cheese was produced in the early 1800s, or for the eponymous county.[10][4] The recipe was developed from formulae originating with Swiss cheesemakers who moved to Norway at that time.[1]

Production and distribution[edit]

"Jarlsberg" is a trademark first registered by Tine SA in 1972,[11][12] and the exact nature and formula for the process of making Jarlsberg cheese is a trade secret.[8] The largest producer of Jarlsberg cheese is Tine SA. Tine is the largest Norwegian dairy product cooperative.[10][13] Jarlsberg cheese accounts for 80% of Tine's total exports. Tine's United States subsidiary, Norseland, has sold 150 million 22 lb (10 kg) wheels of Jarlsberg cheese in the U.S. as of 2004.[10]

Jarlsberg cheese was introduced in the United States in 1964.[10] Imports to the U.S. in 1965 were 25 million pounds (11,000,000 kg).[10] Since 1979 imports to the U.S. have been limited to 15 million pounds (6,800,000 kg).[10] Jarlsberg is the most popular imported cheese in the U.S.[14][8] As of 2004, 5–10 million pounds (2,300,000–4,500,000 kg) of Jarlsberg cheese was made in the U.S. in Ohio.[10][3] It is also produced in Ireland by Dairygold.[2]

Annual sales of Jarlsberg cheese in the United Kingdom are £6.9m as of 2013.[8] Jarlsberg cheese is also popular in Australia.[15] Jarlsberg is used as the topping of the Grandiosa, the best-selling frozen pizza in Norway.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rage, Arnfinn (1999). "Ch. 8: North European Varieties of Cheese § 4. Norwegian Cheese Varieties. 6. Jarlsberg". In Fox, P.F. (ed.). Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. Vol. 2: Major Cheese Groups. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 259–60. ISBN 9780834213395.
  2. ^ a b c Blume, Aimee (February 2, 2012). "Cheese of the Week: Jarlsberg a good substitute for Swiss". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Hebert, Kristy (July 1, 2004). "Slice of Norway in Ohio cheese". Farm and Dairy. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2012). The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 318. ISBN 978-0544186033.
  5. ^ "Jarlsberg® m/skorpe". TINE.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jarlsberg® Vellagret m/skorpe". TINE.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jarlsberg® XO 15 mndr". tine.no/osteriet (in Norwegian). Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Cloake, Patricia (September 12, 2013). "The hole truth about Jarlsberg cheese". Word of Mouth. The Guardian (blog). Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Ehlers, Steve; Hurt, Jeanette (2008). "Part 2: Old World Favorites. Ch. 10: Scandinavian and Baltic Cheeses § Norwegian Jarlsberg and Other Norsk Favorites". The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 102–3. ISBN 9781440636189.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Maar, Nancy T. (June 20, 2004). "Jarlsberg's Stamford, Conn., importer eyes U.S. growth". The Advocate. Stamford, CT. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014 – via HighBeam Research.
  11. ^ "Detaljer". search.patentstyret.no. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  12. ^ "Jarlsberg". Webster's New World Dictionary (online ed.). John Wiley & Sons. 1998. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014 – via HighBeam Research.
  13. ^ Ranscombe, Peter (February 10, 2013). "Vet kit to keep Jarlsberg cows healthy". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved August 3, 2014.[dead link]
  14. ^ Jenkins, Steven W. (1996). "The Scandinavian Countries". Cheese Primer. Workman. p. 443. ISBN 9780894807626.
  15. ^ "Jarlsberg grows in the gourmet market". Australasian Business Intelligence. Comtex. 2004. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2014 – via HighBeam Research.
  16. ^ "Mastering the art of Jarlsberg cheese". Laude. February 21, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.

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