Cheese

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OSTEPERLER – 10 YEARS WITH RAW MILK CHEESE🎉

osteperler
Flags are a natural part of a celebration. Here with cheeses from Bo Jensen.

Today it is 10 years since I posted the first post at OSTEPERLER.NO. It was not all that long, and it was in English. OSTEPERLER started out as “TASTEFUL MOMENTS”, has changed to “CHEESE AND YOU” before we ended up as OSTEPERLER, and we’re going to stay OSTEPERLER. Literally speaking OSTEPERLER means “cheese pearls” or more appropriate “cheese gems”.

Before launching the site we had decided it should be all about raw milk cheese, more to narrow the scope of the site rather than a strong belief. That belief has strongly grown upon me as time has gone by. It is a belief that will not weaken and is also the reason I say all raw milk is unpasteurised, but not all unpasteurised milk is raw. I think it is an important distinction and do live well with some thinking it is very nerdy.

OSTEPERLER is about raw milk cheese, not all of them, fortunately they are still numerous even though being threaten every day. Not all of them is just a matter of management, it is not possible to keep track or handle, but when I get hold of a raw milk cheese gem, from wherever it hails, I will of course tell you about it.

First in English, then Norwegian and now back to English. English gives me more air to breathe. Naturally there have been ups and downs. There have times when I have decided to close down OSTEPERLER, no real decisions any of them it turns out, but real enough at the time. Sometimes you need to go for a walk and think matters through. Not a gold mine at all, but my purpose has been to teach the world a little bit about raw milk cheese mostly from a hedonistic point of view. What makes cheeses look, taste and smell different. I am not political, I do not ask for samples and it is rare cheesemakers send me any. I am content with that. Gives me an integrity I feel is important.

But as mentioned above, I do have strong views on the matter of raw versus pasteurised. It is about keeping all of milk’s natural elements intact. For flavour, identity, for biodiversity and a lot more I am sure, but also the more natural processes during cheesemaking the better. Cheese is processed milk however you view it, but nature provides all we need to make excellent cheese, so why not just use it?

Thanks for hanging in, and Here’s to the next 10!

osteperler

The Lofoten islands, home to a wonderful chèvre style cheese

Lofoten islands
Sommersnø from Lofoten gårdsysteri, Lofoten islands, Norway

Thousands sort of pilgrimage to the Lofoten Islands up in northern Norway every year for, no – not to taste the chèvre style Sommersnø – but to climb the mountain peaks, go on eagle and whale safaris, do ocean rafting, fishing, or contemplating in breathtaking surroundings and of course enjoy the gastronomic affluence that you are surrounded by wherever you go in the archipelago. Sommersnø is part of the latter. An organic chèvre style raw milk cheese made by a Dutch couple at Lofoten gårdsysteri.

Sommersnø is a young cheese

I do not know exactly when they launched the cheese, but it’s only a few years ago. Up till then they made, and still do, firm cheeses, of bought-in cows’ milk from near by dairy farms. These are all pasteurised, some even with local seaweed, but Sommersnø is made with milk from their own herd of 150 milking goats and is used raw. The rind is a mix of white mould (P. candidum) and Geotrichum candidum, the latter so typical for the chèvre style cheeses. Paste is bright white, even and creamy once in your mouth. A fine acidity, dairy flavours, and so well integrated salt that you could almost say there isn’t any, but there is. It’s just a job well done.

Lofoten islands
Sommersnø

Lofoten islands

The Lofoten islands is an archipelago just north of the arctic circle, stretching south west into the Norwegian sea. An eldorado for marine wildlife, home for the famous “le skrei” fisheries every winter. Lots of midnight sun in the summer, northerns lights during winter and a climate not anything near as harsh as you would imagine this far north, thanks to the mild gulf stream bringing warm water all the way from the Gulf of Mexico and across the Atlantic ocean.

The farmer/cheesemakers

Serendipity. How often isn’t your direction in life decided by that? That’s how Marielle and Hugo and their sons ended up at the Lofoten islands, via a detour to Africa’s Burkina Faso and the Philippines respectively. To do some farming only for a summer. That was back in 2000 and that summer seems to last for ever and again.

Bøstad, that’s where they are situated and visitors are most welcome.

High flying Norwegian chèvre style cheeses too look for

norwegian chèvre style cheeses
Three Norwegian chèvre style cheeses: Lille Aske, Myrull and Kubbeost

Three Norwegian chèvre style cheeses today. Not a typical Norwegian tradition this, so the inspiration comes from France. Most of us connect chèvre with the Loire, and of course there is a lot of chèvre made there, but not only. Many excellent chèvres are made elsewhere in France. Within Norway, artisan making of chèvre has only started up with the scope of the last 10 years. The goats are Norwegian milk goat, which is a very healthy race, due to the fact that the complete race was sort of redeveloped in the 1990s, a huge project costing more than a hundred million Euros. The result is as said, a healthy race producing high quality milk and no paratuberculosis among the animals.

Three Norwegian chèvre style cheeses

They are all made within the scope of the same week. Oldest is Kubbeost, a log of about 200 grams. Made up in the valleys in central southern Norway. Lille Aske gained a Super Gold at the world Cheese Awards in London 2017. From the South west of Norway, inland from Stavanger to be very broad. Finally Myrull from the mountain areas south west of Trondheim. Based on the dates they were made, they should have a lot of similarities, but still, they’re from three different small scale dairies.

Lille Aske

The famous one, drier than the others. Slightly runny inside the rind, due to the work of the Geotrichum candidum. Rind somewhat hard for this type of cheese, Covered in ash (aske means ash). Core is beautifully al dente. Clean milk and fine acidity. If you have time to wait, it will give you a small bite at the end. Best as it is, with some honey. Alas, Bo making this cheese, is winding down, not stopping but reducing volumes focusing on the local market.

norwegian chèvre style cheeses
Lille Aske fra Bos ysteri

Myrull

Myrull is a mature, but still fresh, organic chèvre style cheese with milk from their own herd. An even and creamy paste. Well made. Rind is off-white and well integrated with the rest of the cheese. Gentle milk flavour and umami. If you are very sensitive to bitter tones, you might detect some. It’s probably from the rind though. Had a discussion with Sister Noella at Abbey of the Regina Laudis in Connecticut, USA a few summer ago. Not about fresh chèvre style cheeses, but about Geotrichum candidum and the fact they might well give som bitter flavours. So she never eats the rind. G. candidum is very commonly used to form the rind of chèvre and chèvre style cheeses.

Of the three cheese this fares the best on the grill.

norwegian chèvre style cheeses
Myrull fra Grindal ysteri

Kubbeost

From Hallingdal. That’s on the east to west route, or vice versa of course. This log appears fresher than the two others. Could be it is almost double the volume and same age, so it seems more moisture is left in the cheese. It is matured for eight days before being packed and sent off. The curd is rolled by hand and salted. This cheese has a distinct saltiness to it. Apart from that, fresh milk, grass and herbs. Mild and very likeable. Creamy, but also a little crumbly. This makes wonders in a summer salad.

norwegian chèvre style cheeses
Kubbeost fra Rueslåtten ysteri

To drink

I am fairly traditional and prefer a dry white, usually a Sauvignon blanc. But if you’re looking for a variation you have some fine dry whites from the south of France made from the Pine de Picpoul grape. I quite fancy this variation.

Buying cheese

None is available outside Norway, as far as I know.

“Disclaimer”

When I taste cheese I use a form developed by the Academy of Cheese, helping me to be as objective and consistent as possible. But our taste and olfactory systems are not identical, so some are more sensitive to certain aromas or flavours than others, which probably will influence the score. Whether a cheese is good or not, use and pairings is a personal opinion and outside the scope of the tasting form.

Osteperler goes back to its roots and turns English again

osteperler, cheese gems
Cheese buckets the old way

Osteperler started out in English as “Tasteful moments”, and cheese does absolutely represent some tasteful moments. But I changed the name as I turned the site into Norwegian with English as a partly side language. Now I plan to turn Osteperler around again writing in English with raw milk cheeses from around the world as my playground. That said, they will be mostly European as here is where we find most of the raw milk cheeses of the world. But, North America does have a fair and seemingly increasing share.

It’s been ten years since I started out, in a month or so at least so I thought it was time to make a change. That’s partly also my nature.

So what does osteperler mean, exactly? Literally speaking cheese pearls. Pearls in this context in Norwegian will probably be the same as a gem in English, so the translation would be cheese gems.

Osteperler will also be a good site for sourcing Norwegian cheese gems, up and coming as they are, twice World Cheese Awards winners, 2016 in San Sebastian and 2018 in Bergen. Very well done for a relatively young cheese nation, at least from a modern cheese making aspect. Norwegian farmstead cheese deserve a place at the international cheese platter, so my hope is to contribute to that happening, both here and physically helping the cheese makers out. Norwegian cheese is so much more than Jarlsberg, which is not a Norwegian cheese unless you buy it in Norway, and the somewhat exotic brown cheese. Jarlsberg is absolutely a Norwegian cheese brand though.

So far I have also made some videos in Norwegian, I plan to start making some in English as well. They will be posted here as appropriate, and at my YouTube channel. Thursday evenings I do a streaming, in Norwegian, and so it will be.

Want to check out a little more about me or osteperler? Go here or here.

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