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Scandinavia's Fermented and Cultured Milk Products

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Europe
Forum Name: Scandinavia
Forum Discription: Where people live to eat.
URL: http://foodsoftheworld.ActiveBoards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=4958
Printed Date: 18 September 2018 at 11:02


Topic: Scandinavia's Fermented and Cultured Milk Products
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Subject: Scandinavia's Fermented and Cultured Milk Products
Date Posted: 09 February 2018 at 09:16
Scandinavia's Fermented and Cultured Milk Products

This thread will serve as a sort of nexus for the forum’s collective knowledge regarding the various fermented and cultured milks of Scandinavia and how they play a major part in the foodways of the region. I’ll open it with some introductory information, and as our “library” on the subject expands, we can post links to individual projects as replies on this thread. Anyone and everyone is invited to contribute, as their interest allows.

To get things started, here is some great reading from Time/Life’s Foods of the World - The Cooking of Scandinavia; 1968:

Quote If fermentation sounds like an exotic way to preserve food, bear in mind that the same process also yields wine, cheese, anchovies, olives, sour cream, yoghurt and buttermilk. Without the blessing of fermentation the Scandinavians would never have been able to turn the greater part of their spring and summer milk supplies into storable dairy products. Nor would they have become the important cheese and butter makers they are today. Denmark has even managed in the [1960s] to present to the world a great new cheese - the rich, soft Crèma Dania.

Some milk had to be kept on hand to drink, and inevitably it soured. A virtue was made of this, and , and in Viking times, as later, it was considered fit food to offer company. One of the sagas tells tells of a man named Bard who served his guests bread and butter and “large bowls filled with curds.” As they were very thirsty, they swallowed the curds in large draughts; “then Bard had buttermilk brought in, and they drank it.”

What those curds may have been is not certain. Perhaps they were nothing more than skyr, or curdled milk, which used to be a common food of Scandinavia. Today skyr is found under that name only in Iceland, and here it is eaten fresh, as a kind of yoghurt. In the old days in Norway and Sweden, milk was kept for months on end to make another product called syr. Syr was sampled by a man at the end of the [19th C]entury who described it as resembling milk “freshly drawn from the cow,” but tasting like “vinegar mixed with something bitterer than aloes.” And indeed it did serve on occasion as a substitute for vinegar.

In Norway, farm wives used to make a drink known as tette milk, so-named because the tette, a meadow plant with a blue flower, was basic to its preparation. A few of the leaves would be put into the bottom of a bowl and boiled milk poured over them. Allowed to sit in a warm place, the milk would thicken; then the leaves would be removed and some of the milk would be spooned as a culture into fresh supplies kept in casks and barrels. Such apparently was the power of the tette leaves as a preservative that spring milk so treated could still be drunk in winter. By then it would have changed considerably in character and taste, and great care had to be taken not to stir it, as the whey would separate. A little would be dipped carefully out of the barrel and poured into bowls, to which sour cream might be added, probably to make it more palatable.

In the kind of storage economy that dominated Scandinavian households until [the 20th C]entury, nothing edible could be wasted, and thus even the whey resulting from the manufacture of cheese and butter was boiled down, a process that took hours to complete, since whey is little more than water.The brown paste so obtained was then put in molds, allowed to set, and eaten as a kind of cheese. The famous goat cheese of Norway is made in this manner. Occasionally leftover whey was drunk, and according to old Norwegian farmers who used to quaff it in the fields, no more thirst-quenching drink could be found in summertime.

The taste for tart dairy products remains strong among the Scandinavians. In any of the [Scandinavian] countries it is not unusual to see a bowl of milk sitting on a window ledge or at the back of a cupboard, like an offering to the household gods. When it has become good and thick, sugar is sprinkled on top (in Denmark, crumbs of sour rye are added), and the whole is spooned up greedily. Although the Danes display this predilection for sour of thick milk - tylmaelk as they call it - they had to wait for the United States Army in Germany to introduce them to sour cream. Having started out by manufacturing it exclusively for GI consumption, they soon woke up to its multiple possibilities in cooking, and are now busily promoting it at home - thus finally catching up with the Norwegians, Swedes and Finn, who for centuries have known what a good thing it is.


At the time of this writing, two members have started projects dealing with Scandinavian cultured milks: Mike (PitRow) is knee-deep in learning about a Finnish yoghurt called Filmjölk, a Finnish yoghurt, while I have started a culture of Piimä, another cultured dairy product hailing from Finland that is unique in its own right. More on both of these projects as this thread develops.

Ron

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Replies:
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 09 February 2018 at 09:17
The first project in this series was undertaken by Mike, as he experimented with a culture of Filmjölk. Here is a short description of this Finnish Yoghurt, provided by www.culturesforhealth.com:

Quote Filmjölk has a tangy flavor reminiscent of cheese and a custard-like texture. It's great with fresh fruit or over pie.

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/counter-top-yogurt-starters-video/


Here is the link to Mike's thread on Filmjölk:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/filmjlk-yogurt_topic4951.html

I'll be trying this yoghurt soon, as well, and will post my results (along with what I've learned) on Mike's thread above.

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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 09 February 2018 at 15:45
The next project in this series was undertaken by me, as I bumbled my way through starting a culture of Piimä. Here is a short description of this Finnish Yoghurt, provided by www.culturesforhealth.com:

Quote Piimä, a Scandinavian variety, is very thin and drinkable with a mild flavor. Culture it with cream instead of milk to make a tasty sour cream-like topping.

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/counter-top-yogurt-starters-video/


Here is the link to my thread on Piimä:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/piim_topic4959.html

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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 28 February 2018 at 10:27
I posted this basic information (from the opening post) on a couple of other forums, and got this reply from a fellow beer brewer in Finland; I am adding it here, to augment the collective knowledge on the subject:

Quote Nice job as always, TasunkaWitko. It is great to see how you do it.

I must admit that I have never tried to make viili (Finnish word for filmjölk) or piimä (filmjölk in Swedish as well, I think). These are both mild and affordable dairy products that most people nowadays buy from grocery stores. Traditionally, they contained more fat but nowadays people tend to favor non-fat products that definitely have thinner consistency; piimä is nowadays nearly as drinkable as milk but with viili you will need a spoon.

I prefer viili with just berries (we pick a lot of blueberries in summer and freeze them for the winter). Lingonberries, raspberries (wild) and strawberries (mainly cultivated) are also common in Finland with viili or rahka (=thicker than viili). In the north, cloudberry is abundant. If I run out of berries I put a bit of ground cinnamon and sugar or honey on top of viili, although cinnamon has nothing to do with traditional Nordic ingredients.

Rahka (kvark in Swedish) could be mixed with a little bit of whipped cream, a lot of berries, sugar and maybe vanilla sugar to make a nice dessert.


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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 03 August 2018 at 10:50
We were grocery shopping yesterday, and I came across a product that I had heard about in my research, but never hoped to see in rural Montana:

Icelandic Skyr.

Treated as a yoghurt, but technically a cheese, skyr is old - very old - in Scandinavian culture, with references going back to the Viking Age, as noted above in the opening post.

I found this skyr sold under the trade name Siggi's, which seem to be an up-and-coming source for various Scandinavian cultured milk products, including Filmjölk, which we have discussed before:

https://siggis.com/

I have not yet tried it, but will tonight; I'll be sure to share my impressions of it.

The neat thing about this is that, like many Scandinavian cultured milk products, skyr can be made easily at home in the American kitchen. Here are a couple of links that I found, from Iceland:

http://icelandmag.is/article/make-your-own-skyr

https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/eat_and_drink/2017/03/22/make_your_very_own_skyr/

The recipe in the first link does not use rennet, but the other recipes that I found do use it; this might be an error in the recipe, or it might be deliberate, for something more traditional...I do not know. If I find out any other information, I'll pass it along, or perhaps someone who knows a little more can weigh in on this. Interestingly, the recipes call for non-fat milk, which I did not expect but am glad to see, since most of the milk we buy at home (unless for a specific project) is skimmed.

The process of making skyr seems just as easy as making any other homemade yoghurt, so perhaps I'll give that a try, as well.

Here is the link to the broader discussion on skyr:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/skyr_topic5073.html

Ron

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