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Mar 1, 2013 09:59 PM


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.

        9 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!

                  1. re: wendilee1956

                    (Grandma came over from Norway in the immigration wave, back in the early 1900s.) There was Gjetost as a standard growing up, and N√łkkelost. Like you, I think I also discovered Jarlsberg somewhere in the '70s or '80s. The descriptions of Jarlsberg around the thread are pretty accurate. For my taste buds, definitely milder than full-throttle Swiss. For Gjetost, though, think of a large brown block eraser, but it tastes kind of nut-like. (Mail order via the web, if necessary!)

            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.