Dill Havarti Episode

Why I didn’t try a cheese I’ve mastered already for the first time I used my new cheese press, I don’t know but alas I didn’t and now I’m waiting to see what happens to the the cheese I ended up with.  Read on!

Lets go back to the beginning and see what I did and what happened.

Heating the milk in preparation to add the culture, rest for 30 minutes and then the rennet and rest until set.  The temps were perfect. Exactly what the recipe calls for.
After 30 minutes the curds had set up really well with a clean break so were ready to be cut.

Curds cut and ready to be gently stirred before removing 1/3 do the whey and replacing it with very hot water to bring the temperature of the curds up to 100 degrees.

Beautiful yellow whey sitting on top of curds after the rest period.

1/3 of the whey has been removed.  At this point the curds were sticking together more than normal so they appear large.  They should have been bean sized at this point but no amount of stirring stopped them from clumping together.  I crossed my fingers and proceeded.

Dill added.
And into the cheese cloth lined cheese press we go.  So far so good I tell my self with hope in my heart.


6 hours in the press with a couple of redressings and flips.

Hey looking good!  Now to take the cheesecloth off and put into the brine.
Maybe this is going to be okay after all………… It looks awesome right now although it feels somewhat spongy but hey maybe havarti is supposed to be that way?  I’ve read that it is often softer than cheddar or gouda at this point.

One of my cheese books said to put this cheese into the refrigerator over night and also chill the saturated salt brine before soaking.   The one I have used the most in the past said to put the cheese right into the brine so that is what I did.  I let it soak in a saturated salt brine for 3 hours and then put it on a cheese mat on a drying rack and covered it with cheesecloth to start to dry over night.


TA DAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   A flying saucer has landed in my kitchen right in the place where my beautiful dill havarti was sleeping!!!!!!!  What the h e double hockey sticks happened???

Here are my ideas:

a)  I didn’t get enough whey out of the curds in the first place.  This cheese was still oozing whey the next morning and is staying quite wet even now.

b)  I didn’t get the pressing weight right or didn’t leave it in the press long enough.

c)  My rennet is just over a year old.   Could be that it’s getting weak but then I got a beautiful clean break.

If anyone reading this has any ideas please comment!!!!!

I am letting this cheese dry at room temperature as I write this and I will try to age it to see what happens.  You can bet I’ll be trying this recipe again until I figure it out.  The cheese right out of the mold was so beautiful!!!!!!!!!  Will let you know what transpires over the next while with this cheese.  I guess I have my special project cheese Ian!


  1. Hi Margo,

    I have had this happen too. keep flipping the cheese and it will even out in shape.

    Your rennet could be a factor but I think it could be that curds were not cooked enough. You could do an additional “wash” of the curds that will help to release more whey. Also I tend to press my Havarti for about 8 to 10 hours (usually overnight). Havarti is one that I use weights instead of my press.

    • Margo McIntosh

      I wondered about using weights instead of the press but I was so anxious to use my press! The second one has turned out better and that posting is coming soon.

  2. You have what I call a contamination event. Could have been in the milk already or could be something it picked up in the pot. Yeast is common this time of year. Don’t bother ageing it….feed it to the chickens is my advice.

    • Margo McIntosh

      Thanks Charlotte. I want to age it and see if it is okay. It looks better now that it’s sat in the cheese cave for a week. I’ll age it for 6 weeks and then try a small amount in case it is contaminated. Wish me luck! :0)

  3. Margo,

    How has this one progressed?

    • I ended up throwing it out Ian. It went really moldy and smelled terrible after a couple of weeks in the cheese cave. The second attempt has turned out awesome though!

  4. Did the recipe call for calcium cloride and vinegar in the brine? I am new at making cheese but I have realized that some recipes forget to mention that the brine needs calcium cloride and a little acidity to prevent the cheese from going soft or slimey. I have come across several more experienced cheese makers who say they add the salt to the whey and use that as the brine because the whey already has calcium and acidity. Or you can add a little calcium cloride and vinegar to your water brine. They also suggest boiling the whey or brine solution after each use and storing it in the refrigerator for the next cheese and then just adding a little more salt before each use because each cheese will absorb some of the salt. I had a feta cheese go slimey on me because I didn’t know this and the recipe didn’t call for it.

    • I did not use calcium chloride. I read some information about cc being linked to cancer growth so never use it. I work with raw milk so there is no need to use it. I actually made this same recipe a second time and it turned out fine. I did everything exactly the same way. I think this had to do with not getting enough moisture out of the curds and then not pressing it correctly. It was the first time with my new press. The second try was awesome!

  5. I am making Dill Havarti tonight – made Caerphilly two days ago and this same thing happened – but just a little on one end. It is because I did not press my curd right away. Made it at a friend’s farm and had to drive 90 minutes into the city. Stopped twice to flip it, but no pressing until home… it looked great, but after the brine, it “swelled” and sounds a bit burpy. I peeled back a layer and it smells and looks fine. This Caerphilly is edible in 3 weeks, so I will know soon enough. I am worried about inner contamination, but the air in there should be good… hope I don’t have to toss it. It was made with gorgeous whole fresh milk.
    Wish you had contributed more to our Cheesepalooza challenges when I see posts like this. I learn so much from reading them, Margo.

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