Havarti vs. Provolone: What’s the Difference?

Havarti and Provolone are two popular cheeses, but a lot of people don’t know the difference between them. In this blog post, we will compare the two cheeses and discuss some key differences.

Characteristics

Havarti is a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese that is named after the place of Havartigården in Denmark. It has a smooth texture and a mild earthy, buttery, and slightly tangy flavor. The aged Havarti is nuttier, similar to Swiss cheese. Provolone is also a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk and has a sharper flavor than Havarti. It appears around the southern region of Italy.

Havarti and provolone are both aged cheese. Havarti is aged for 3-6 months, while provolone is typically aged slightly longer for 4-12 months.

Production

Havarti and provolone are made similar to most other cheeses. First by adding starter culture and rennet to fresh milk, which causes the milk to coagulate. The curds are then cut and whey liquid is drained. The cheese curds are then pressed and molded. Later brined and aged.

Provolone also goes through a plasticizing process called pasta filata (stretched-curd or spun paste) which Havarti didn’t. It’s done by heating and stretching the curds to reach the desired texture. This process explains why provolone has better melting and shredding properties (3).

Havarti is a washed-rind (also smear-rind) cheese but provolone isn’t. The process takes place during aging where the cheese is smeared with brined water periodically. It’s to attract certain bacteria (B. linen) that impart the specific smell, sometimes known as stinky socks odor.

Some modern Havarti (flødehavarti) is not washed-rind. Therefore without the reddish-orange smearing on its surface – which looks almost like a slab of butter.

Use and Serve

Havarti is a popular table cheese and can also be used in sandwiches or melted into pasta dishes. It goes very well with fruits, wines, and beers. Provolone is mostly used for Italian dishes such as pizza, pasta, or calzones.

Price

Havarti typically costs slightly more than provolone because of the extra labor-intensive smearing-rind steps in production that Havarti goes through. That said, the modern Havarti can be cheaper.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provolone
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havarti
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/pasta-filata-cheese