Gjetost – A Norwegian cheese masterpiece
The iconic Gjetost cheese is a national specialty of Norway and a key player in their cuisine. The milk-based cheese is amber to dark brown, has a fudgy texture, and a sweet and nutty flavor. Gjetost cheese is so distinctive and unique from other cheeses due to its production process that has been around for centuries, as well as its incredible flavor profile.
Historically, Gjetost cheese was produced for generations in the mountains of Norway and was a staple among traditional Norwegian cuisine. By the late 19th century, the cheese had become so popular that factories began to produce it using more modern methods of production. Gjetost cheese is enjoyed by Norwegians and non-Norwegians all over the world, and has become a hallmark of Norwegian culture and cuisine.
In this blog post, we will explore the journey from cow to Gjetost cheese and the fascinating process of how the cheese is created and travel from its mountain home to your dinner plate.
From Cow to Cream
Before we dive into Gjetost cheese production and its unique flavor development, it is important to understand the journey from cow to cream. The cheese primarily uses goat’s and cow’s milk for its base, depending on local availability, and often farmers will combine both milks.
The journey from cow to cream begins with the milking process. Milk produced in Norway is sent to dairy production plants where it is pasteurized and homogenized before the cream is separated out of the milk. Depending on the type of cheese being made, the cream could be collected directly from the milk or skimmed out of the pasteurized milk. In Gjetost cheese, the cream is skimmed out of the pasteurized milk.
Once the cream is collected, it is then slightly heated and merged with special starter cultures to give the cheese its signature flavor and texture. After the cream is heated and cultures are added, the curds are left to thicken and prepare for the next steps of cheese production.
The Special Process of Sweetening
Now that the Gjetost cheese curds are ready for production, the next step is the special process of sweetening. This is the process that gives Gjetost cheese its unique flavor and texture. The sugar content in the Gjetost cheese curds gives the cheese its sweetness and nutty flavor, but it also affects the cheese’s firmness and texture.
The sweetening process is unique to Gjetost cheese and starts with the production of a sugary syrup. This syrup is composed of two inactive cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Leuconostoc mesenteroides, that break down the lactose in the cheese curds molecules. As the molecules break down, they release the sugars that will give the cheese its sweetness. This syrup is then added to the cheese curds to give them their sweetness, nutty flavor, and soft and creamy texture.
Once the sweetening process is completed, the cheese curds are then pressed into molds, which gives the cheese its iconic shape based on the mold used. After the molds are filled, they are then pressed to further give it its shape. The cheese is then brined in a salty solution to protect its flavor and texture before the aging process begins.
Maturation and Aging of Gjetost Cheese
Now that the Gjetost cheese is shaped and brined, it is placed in a room designated for the maturation and aging process. The exact length of the maturation and aging phase of Gjetost cheese can vary based on the desired final texture of the cheese.
The maturation and aging process is key to developing Gjetost’s unique flavor and texture. During this process, the cheese is flipped regularly to ensure it ages properly and evenly. The temperature and humidity of the room are also key factors in the maturation and aging process, and their constant monitoring helps to ensure the taste and texture of the cheese remain consistent.
Once the cheese is aged to the desired texture and taste, it is then packaged and sent off to be sold and shared at markets, stores, and homes throughout Norway and the world.
Delicious Gjetost Cheese - Ready to Eat!
Gjetost cheese is a beloved staple in Norwegian cuisine, and is consumed by locals and tourists alike. There are many recipes utilizing Gjetost cheese, ranging from classic Norwegian dishes to modern fusion dishes.
During the summer months of late June to early August, the cheese can be enjoyed in its classic form as a cold dairy product with rye bread and butter, or even melted in pancakes. Gjetost cheese can also be enjoyed in its melted form during the colder winter months and is often combined with apples or carrots for a unique flavor combination.
The cheese is incredibly versatile and brings unique flavors and depth to any dish. Whether melted in cheese fondue, spread over toast, or added to mac and cheese, Gjetost cheese is sure to bring a unique complexity to any recipe.
Gjetost cheese is a national specialty of Norway and a beloved part of their cuisine. The cheese starts its journey from cow to cream, followed by the special process of sweetening that gives the cheese its flavor and texture. The cheese is then placed in a designated room for maturation and aging, and packaged and sent to stores, markets, and homes throughout Norway and the world. Gjetost cheese is incredibly versatile, and the distinctive flavor, texture, and sweetness make it the perfect addition to any dish.