Danish Cheeses

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

The names of Danish cheeses, of which there are 11 officially sanctioned by the government, would seem to suggest that there are 11 distinct cheeses belonging to Denmark; but this is not so. One Danish cheese, samsoe, is a cheese in its own right, since it has characteristics which distinguish it clearly from the Swiss cheese on which it was originally modelled: but other kinds, although some of them also have names derived from places in Denmark where they are made, are more or less copies of cheeses of other nationalities. This situation arose thanks to the remarkable expansion of Danish agriculture in the second half of the 19th century. A firm knowledge base (promoted by newly founded agricultural universities), an embracing of new industrial machinery (in the dairy industry, the steam-powered centrifuge), and adoption of a new business model for farming—the cooperative—made Danish dairy farming the wonder of Europe (soon to be followed by its pig farming). Butter and cheese were its leading exports.