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What is Jarlsberg and how does it compare to other varieties of Swiss? I am not a big Swiss cheese fan but had my first Reuben last week and loved the flavor of Swiss so think my tastes might be changing. With my dislike of Swiss I have been making Cordon Bleu with Muenster and Provolone but tonight grabbed some Jarlsberg. Any opinions on how this compares to classic run of the mill Swiss?

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  1. We get a big block of it at Costco. I'd describe it as mild Swiss with a nutty under taste!

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    1. The Swiss brought Emmenthaler to Norway in the first half of the 19th century. The Norwegians later took Emmenthaler as their model for Jarlsberg. It has a sweetness that the Swiss cheese lacks, which some people , when comparing the two cheeses, find a virtue and others consider a bit cloying. Still, it's a very versatile cheese that slices easily and works well in recipes. You can make a very good grilled cheese sandwich with it.

      1. Jarlsberg is also referred to as a baby Swiss, though it is from Norway as noted by cheesemaestro. As a non-Swiss cheese lover, I don't mind it from time to time, definitely nuttier and sweeter than the usual suspects. It also has a nice smooth texture. The SO eats it frequently in ham and cheese sandwiches.

        8 Replies
        1. re: grayelf

          It smelled too Swissy for me so I passed on it but probably will have to muster up the courage someday as it's still in the fridge. Does it melt well?

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Per cheesemaestro, it makes a mighty fine grilled cheese sandwich. I actually think it melts better than gruyere or Emmental.

            1. re: grayelf

              I think I'll use it in my next grilled cheese, grayelf.

              I've been eating Jarlsberg since I was young. My mother discovered it in her post-Julia Child period (how much better we lived after my mother discovered Julia).

              Usually I eat it with raisins and nuts, sometimes grapes or berries and nuts. But it needs this triangulation IMO. It's similar to when I eat Parmigiano-Reggiano. I love it with very ripe pears and walnuts. I eat a little of each and let them combine in my mouth as I chew. Just delicious.

            2. re: fldhkybnva

              Once again, you're utterly confusing.

              You say you dislike Swiss cheese, but you obviously bought this as "it's still in the fridge"??? And you have to "muster up the courage someday" to try it??

              You're not making any sense.

              1. re: Bacardi1

                It's not confusing. In her OP she said she bought it because she thought her tastes might be changing. But you can't smell the cheese through the wrapping, so once she opened it at home and got a whiff, the smell didn't appeal to her.

              2. re: fldhkybnva

                Jarlsberg melts very well. Growing up in a Scandinavian neighborhood, we had lots of it.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I'm Norwegian as well but I didn't discover it until I was a nanny in the 1970s. The woman I worked for would make this delicious Ratatouille and pair is with a chunk of Jarlsberg. I still do that to this day. Now I have more recipes to try. By the way, though I wasn't introduced to Jarlsberg when I was growing up, we often had gjetost. Mmmm. Wish I could find some here in the Bay area. AND lefsa!

            3. Jarlsberg is a wonderful Swiss cheese. It's a favorite around here, & I love the fact that most deli departments now sell it freshly sliced.

              But if you don't like Swiss cheese in general, than you won't like Jarlsberg. But then again, since you claim to have liked the Swiss cheese in your Reuben, I'm not sure I understand your question. If you dislike Swiss, then you dislike Swiss. Jarlsberg, frankly, isn't going to "change your mind".

              Since Reuben Sandwiches also contain corned beef, sauerkraut, & Thousand Island dressing, chances are the Swiss cheese just got lost in the tumble.

              But do try it again on it's own. Swiss is a wonderful versatile cheese.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Hold it right there, fella! For one, I dislike Swiss Cheese, yet DO like Jarlsberg quite a bit, eliminating your theory/idea that a Swiss Cheese hater will surely dislike Jarlsberg, ya see? You're clearly wrong on all points there. Along with that, disliking Swiss in fact HAS "changed my mind" about what I think about Jarlsberg simply because I've tried Jarlsberg & highly prefer it. To each his own afterall, ya know?

                1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                  Jarlsberg is definitely a Norwegian cheese, but it is made in the style of Swiss Cheese. The difference for you is likely the milk.

              2. Big fan of Jarlsberg, especially in grilled cheese and on burgers. It's a nice melting cheese, not terribly expansive and easy to find. I think it's milder in sharpness than other swiss cheeses I've had. Some of the packaged presliced swiss are drier too. Jarlsberg is creamy.

                4 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  Today while slicing some of the Jarlsberg I bought for a great price (this week @ Aldi's, $3.00 for a large wedge) I was reminded how much I like Jarlsberg with nothing more than Grey Poupon.


                  1. re: HillJ

                    Nice to know. An Aldi store is due to open near me any minute.

                    1. re: Jay F

                      The Aldi's cheese dept is full of surprises and brand-names year round. When you don't want to commit to a Costco size cheese wedge or a cheese shop premium, Aldi's is one of the nice alternative.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Excellent. It will literally be my closest grocery when it opens.

                2. As others have said, Jarlsberg is nuttier & sweeter than Emmentaler and other varieties. Since you enjoyed the reuben, why not make one at home with the Jarlsberg?

                  1. I'm wondering if by "Swiss" you mean the US cheese made in the Swiss style, rather than a cheese from Switzerland. I despise "Swiss" cheese, as I find the flavour strong but boring. On the other hand, I love a gruyère or emmentaler. Perhaps the sandwich you loved had a good cheese. If that's the case, I think you'll love the Jarlsberg.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                      Yea, regular American style Swiss. It's not a very fancy place so I assume they are using that, but I should check. Perhaps it was the Russian dressing and sauerkraut which made it tolerable :)

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Maybe it was, but I find the main flavour of US (or Canadian) "Swiss" to be "funk", whereas a cheese from Switzerland I find smoother and nutty. They both have the smell, but I find the actual Swiss cheese to have much more nuanced flavours than the cheap stuff.

                        As a thought, why not ask for a taste at the cheese counter? Every non-discount grocery near me has at least a couple of real Swiss cheeses in the deli case, and samples are provided upon request.

                        Oh... and you lost me at sauerkraut. :)

                      2. re: CanadaGirl

                        Thank you CanadaGirl for mentioning the "elephant in the room" in this thread, which will make it hopelessly confusing to any reader outside the Americas -- that the product known to some North Americans as "Swiss cheese" is not, actually, Swiss, in any sense but marketing name, and doesn't represent or resemble the cheeses Switzerland is so famous for (Gruyère, Emmenthaler) -- which have always been readily available in the US too, to anyone interested. They are far subtler cheeses, as you wrote. Gruyère, especially, has established an international niche in cooking as a flavor enhancer: a richer, more meltable counterpart to Italian Parmesan. (Even the French, who make and export a few cheeses themselves, defer in their classic cookbooks to Parmesan and Gruyère for many cooking uses, especially around pasta.) No one who's experienced a decent Gruyère in a grilled sandwich or pasta casserole is likely to have much use for "US Swiss" cheese in those roles again.

                        US products sold as "Swiss" cheese (like the generic red wines once commonly, but decreasingly, mislabeled "Burgundy") certainly have their uses, but to innocent consumers they create distorted notions of the real thing whose name they shamelessly stole (a practice, incidentally, illegal in many countries, though I notice that such laws stop short of discouraging restaurants in those same countries from doing the very same thing when they label any random meat-and-tomato pasta sauce "Bolognese").

                        Practical definition of "US Swiss" cheese seems to be that it has holes, and a bitter edge to the flavor, which is so different from the real stuff.

                        (May I add, use of ANY cheese in a Reuben sandwich, while popular, has always been slightly controversial -- some cooks have always omitted it without loss of flavor, since the meat and Russian dressing, properly made of course, are already rich, flavorful, and salty, the sauerkraut further supplementing the last two features.)

                      3. Recently bought a hunk o' the stuff. Sliced it up and had it with Hickory Farms summer sausage, a loaf of onion rye bread, some Bulgarian dill pickles and a couple of bottles of O'Hara Stout.

                        I liked it.

                        1. I absolutely love Jarlsberg. As other have mentioned, it is similar to Swiss, but with a nutty flavor. I use it often in sandwiches and in Mac n cheese. Also just to eat along with crackers.

                          1. I love it! I find many Swiss cheeses bordering on bitter. Never with Jarlsberg. My wife, who never eats Swiss, enjoys Jarlsberg on a number of things.

                            And if you make any of those bisquick quiche-like things, it's the perfect blending cheese (but I also add some freshly grated parm on the dinner ones.........leave it out on the breakfast quiches)

                            1. Not a reply, but a question to cheeseheads and Jarlsbergers, since you're all gathered here:

                              I have a rock solid block of Jarlsberg. Will it melt grated? How about as one piece in a nuke?

                              Would it help if it is in a warm bath of wine, a la fondue?

                              I also have some fresh Gruyere hanging around, so if it needs some kindling...

                              Basically just don't want to throw it out unnecessarily.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: rbraham

                                I never throw out hard cheeses. Your Jarlsberg will melt beautifully, even if you just chunk it. and it's wonderful in fondue, too.

                                When you get down next to the rind, I pop it into a baggie and store until I'm making soup. It adds wonderful flavor to soups and bean dishes.

                                1. re: rbraham

                                  When you say rock solid, does that mean it has dried out on the outside? Or is it dry all the way through?

                                  If it's just the outside that's dry, I would just use it for whatever and trim off any bits that are too dry to ignore. If you grate it and fondue it, those bits will probably rehydrate anyway. If it's dry all the way through, you can still try turning it into fondue, but I wouldn't combine it with anything expensive, because you might not like the results. I actually LOVE Jarlsberg when it's dried out (I eat the rind happily) so I'd just eat it, but I know that's not a good solution for most people!

                                2. Trader Joe's sells some low-fat Jarlsberg that is a delicious and versatile cheese. I like low-fat much more than the regular fat cheese because it is somehow nuttier tasting.

                                  1. Guys,

                                    Thanks. Good to know.

                                    Epilogue of drama: I just checked, and I must've thrown it out in a frenzy of refrigerator cleaning.

                                    Anyone come up with a moral to this whole event?


                                    1. I didn't like Swiss one bit, yet enjoyed Jarlsberg quite a bit when I tried it. How ironic it was that day that I just happened to try & give Swiss Cheese yet another chance & didn't happen to see/find any brand that seemed worthwhile. The main ironic theme about that though was that someone in line then recommended that I tried Jarlsberg instead. I told her thanks for the idea, yet kind of shook it off for a while while shopping for other things in the meantime, but didn't keep Jarlsberg totally out of my thoughts. After a while, I just figured "Why not?" & then purchased a bit to take home. After trying it, I soon began to think "Oh my God, this just might be one of my new favorite Cheeses!" & it was then no doubt that I decided that it was a "keeper." I'll still have to try a few more different Swiss Cheese brands to see if I'll eventually like one of them, but in the meantime I clearly know that I highly prefer Jarlsberg & recommend that you try it with delight!

                                      1. Jarlsberg is a swiss style cheese from Norway. What makes this different from other swiss cheeses out there in the market is that it has more of a sweet, nutty flavor. It definitely has more character than your domestic swiss.