Will Studd at a dairy farm in Denmark
Despite a history of milk production in Denmark, very few old, traditional Danish cheeses are exported or recognised worldwide. Over the past 100 years or so, Danish cheese production has flourished, and modern, industrialised brands are popular and accessible all over the world. However, the dairy industry is almost entirely focused on copying well-known European varieties, which have adopted Danish names since the Stresa Convention in Italy in 1951.
The new Nordic philosophy
The “manifesto of the new Nordic kitchen” focuses on the quality and simplicity of the wild, organically grown ingredients found in the Nordic climbs and also the welfare of the animals and the environment.
Restauranteur Reno Redzeppi of the world-renowned Noma restaurant attributes the “culinary revolution” to the rediscovery of a product range and cooking traditions, which he and other leading chefs are working with to create this new ‘flavour’.
Neils Stockholm runs a biodynamic farm near Copenhagen and typifies the new Nordic philosophy. He raises one of the last herds of Red Danish dairy cow and says that horns are very important for the cow as they absorb the toxins produces from manure which is good for the cow’s digestive system!
Dairies in Denmark
The Arla Dairy Farm
Arla is the oldest cooperative dairy in Denmark. Although it is a very modern dairy, it uses some old, traditional techniques, and is interested in encouraging handmade artisanal cheeses.
Arla has begun a project to produce a cheese from organic raw milk and is working with some top chefs to create an inspiring and innovative range of cheeses, using age-old techniques, such as storing cheese in grain, which dates back 2-3 thousand years.
The Arla Dairy influences a significant proportion of cheese made in Denmark as it represents over 90% of all cow’s milk produced in the country.
Knuthenlund – an organic farm in the south of Denmark
The focus of this 4th generation dairy is on goat’s cheeses made from ewe’s and goat’s milk. The cheeses produced have a savoury, herbaceous flavour because of the fresh feed, which consists of sundried grasses mixed with local herbs. When the goats ingest it, it generates beautiful quality milk, which is the secret behind all great cheese.
The farm which runs 400 milking ewes and 100 goats attracts 25 000 visitors per year, which is a great testimony to the interest in artisanal cheeses.
Some Danish cheese varieties
Danbo is the most popular Danish cheese, representing 75% of all cheese consumption in Denmark, despite its relative anonymity worldwide. It is a semi-soft, cow’s milk cheese with a sweet, nutty flavour and an elastic texture. The Arla Dairy is responding to the transforming culture of Nordic cuisine by experimenting with a more traditional way of making Danbo using raw milk.
Is a classic, creamy blue cheese, which was originally created in the 1960s. It is now a modern Danish benchmark found all over the world. The mould in a perfect Danish Blue is spread out and should melt and dissolve in the mouth. The taste should be slightly bitter and works well with its buttery texture.
Danish Smoked Cheese
Studd meets Allessandro Porcelli who has lead gourmet tours of Nordic cuisine for many years. He reveals that fresh, smoked cheese is popular amongst the Danes. Smoked cheese is the original Danish cheese and has been revived to such a degree over recent years that now over 90% of cheese shops stock this unique product.
How the Danes smoke fresh cheese
1. Firstly, the curds and whey sit overnight with a special culture.
2. The following morning they are drained into trays for approximately 2 hours and then salted.
3. Hay is packed into a special smoker and set alight.
4. The cheeses are quickly flashed with the hay smoke to produce a unique set of flavours.
Paul Cunningham executive chef at Michelin star restaurant “The Paul” in Copenhagen, smokes his fresh cheese with local pine needles and wood rough, which infuses it with lemon and almond tones.