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So Long Scandie #2 – Danish Cultured Milk

In Danish, Eats on June 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm

This is one rare week that I’m absolutely certain that I have met my recommended calcium intake requirements… AND… I’m also pretty sure that any wars the ‘good’ bacteria in my colon had been fighting have been triumphant (rmb the Vitagen advertisement with the little soldiers flying through the intestines?).

Tykmælk. Check.

Ymer. Check. A38. Koldskål. Check. Check.

Together with my daily gobbles of milk and ice cream, and the windfall of cheese I earned from the housemate (thanks U!), I hereby proclaim that I’m officially done with milky stuffs for now and I’m absolutely looking forward to having some good ol’ soy milk / douhua / soy ice cream (oh Mr Bean!)  in <2 weeks!

Though I did enjoy these cultured milk products with fruit, raisins, muesli, lingonberry jam, soya bean agar ( I used vanilla soya milk with agar agar), crispbread crumbs, crisp cookies etc etc, I must admit that I was rather disappointed with the lack of difference between the products, and especially the lack of communication of the nature of these products that are so differently named. Is it too much to expect a different product when buying something of a different name? I mean all the sourdough breads with different cultures ARE still called, sourdough bread, aren’t they?

Like yoghurt, these cultured milk products have been inoculated with some species of lactic acid bacteria that ferment the lactose in the milk to produce lactic acid that lowers the pH of the product, causing the major milk proteins (casein) to coagulate and increase the viscosity of the milk. The plus points? The milk keeps longer, it suspends delicious crunchy goodies wonderfully and LAB bacteria are good for our gut. And so, if it’s Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, it’s called yoghurt. If it’s not, it HAS to be called something else. Gee, those food regulations.

TYKMAELK is cultured with Lactococcus lactis and Leuconostoc mesenteroides. Same consistency as yoghurt, but less acidic tasting (L. bulgaricus in yoghurt causes a tarter taste), hence it tastes great consumed with less sweetening than YOGHURT.

YMER is cultured with just Lactococcus lactis. It was less thick in consistency than YOGHURT and tasted pretty much the same to me as TYKMAELK, with a little hint of buttery flavour (diacetyl!).

A38 is a product of Arla, which is cultured with Lactobacillus acidophilus and some other unspecified strains (oh well). Tastes like BUTTERMILK to me, more sour than TYKMAELK and YMER, and with the consistency of YOGHURT.

[I’ve forgotten to take a photo of this, can you believe it??]

KOLDSKÅL is the most different from the lot, and is made with BUTTERMILK in combination with eggs, sugar, milk/cream/tykmælk, vanilla and citrus. Just like a flavoured YOGHURT DRINK, refreshing and usually enjoyed with crisp cookies a.k.a. kammerjunkers.


So much for food variety. If I were to make a choice, I’d just buy whichever is on offer at the supermarket and enjoy it with lingonberry jam and muesli! 🙂

So Long, Scandie #1 – Messmör

In Eats, Swedish on June 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

It suddenly dawned on me that it is a mere 2 weeks before I wave goodbye to Scandinavia. Normally, when I travel to a new place, the first thing I would do is to comb the shelves of the supermarket and the list of ‘cuisine of XX’ on Wikipedia to make sure that I’ve eaten everything local that there is to eat. At least, everything affordable and remotely edible-sounding.


Recently, a fellow foodie friend (thanks, I!) bought for me some messmör (browned soft whey butter) from Sweden – apparently the OTHER ‘weird’ thing (besides brunost) that the Scandinavians do with the co-product (whey) of cheese production. It is like a semi-liquid brunost: whey that is boiled down a little less, without the cream, and with a little more sugar, to yield a spreadable whey ‘butter’ that is low in fat (5%), high in sugar (~50%) and tasting something like sweet boiled caramel milk with a creamy consistency.

I must say that it is pretty difficult for someone who didn’t grow up with it to take an instant liking to messmör, because it doesn’t quite fit the expectation of caramel (different lactose-type sweetness), nor butter (not quite as creamy), nor cheese (really really sweet), but it does grow on you. I first got accustomed to it on my hands-free bread (last FAB), and now I enjoy it on soft Swedish bread (got more again from Lund!).


Well, if that’s not convincing enough, perhaps knowing that it’s a more enjoyable form of whey supplement, high in good quality protein, calcium and iron would be an incentive to give it a shot 😉


While googling info about messmör, I realized I’ve overlooked the entire supermarket cultured milk shelf — the cartons of STUFF that resides above the milks and beside the yoghurts. The STUFF called : Tykmælk, Ymer, Ylette, A38, and Koldskål. They all come in the same dairy-style cartons, they all indicate some level of fat content (0,1% , 1,5% or 3,5%) in big bold fonts, and they all have ingredient lists that say ‘Højpasteuriseret homogeniseret sødmælk, syrnet med mælkesyrekultur’ — simply meaning pasteurized and homogenized milk soured with milk culture (i.e. some kind of lactic acid bacteria). What are the differences then, and are they so huge that they warrant this variety of labeling, boggling the mind of a frazzled foreigner who still can’t figure out the simplest Danish? Hey, that’s what I’m trying to find out now — I’ve currently eaten my way through one carton of Tykmaelk and half a carton of A38… would you care to join me to complete my mission? 🙂

Brunost – My Breakfast Candy

In Eats, Norwegian on April 6, 2010 at 8:35 am

This must be one of my most interesting eats so far. Sweet caramel cheese? It’s one of those foods that non-Scandinavian neophobics (people with an aversion to novel foods) are likely to crinkle their nose to and mutter a You want me to try THAT? at frequencies inaudible to their offering host.

But I absolutely absolutely love it! Brunost is a sweet Scandinavian whey cheese that is (almost) Norway’s national breakfast food. And if you’re a poor student, it makes some great lunch food too. Brunost is a special type of cheese made from goat’s milk (traditional) or more commonly now, a mixture of goat’s milk and cow’s milk. Unlike typical cheese production*, it is made by concentrating a mixture of milk or cream with whey by evaporation until approx 80% dry matter. This slow process of heating promotes the Maillard reaction of the sugar (lactose) and proteins. This gives the cheese it’s characteristic brown colour and rich caramellic taste.

*Typical cheese production involves the acidification of milk (with acid or starter culture), curding, pressing of curd and ripening.

How to Eat Brunost

  1. Butter on bread and a slice of brunost (safest, simplest and most rewarding).
  2. Add some jam to no.1 (lovely combination, and if you’re a stickler for variety).
  3. Add a thin slice of apple or cucumber to no.1 / no.2 (for people with complex taste preferences, like yz and myself haha).
  4. Make it into a brown cheese sauce (that’s what I heard, but never tried).
  5. On crisp bread (simple and awesome snack).

I loved it so much, I’ve brought back 700g of Brunost with me, which I pack with my ryebread sandwiches and snacktimes!

How to Eat Brunost Adventurously

  1. Try it on vanilla ice cream — it’s almost like topping with caramel fudge and it adds extra creaminess! Five stars.
  2. With tuna in a sandwich — smoothens out the harsh taste of canned tuna and adds an interesting flavour dimension.
  3. Little bits on bran flakes — you’d be surprised how well the tastes go together (initiative of an impulsive snacker in her bid to reduce rate of calorie intake).
  4. Combined with a slice of ‘normal cheese’ in your sandwich — if the sweet taste is too disturbing for you, combining it with another cheese lessens the caramel note, but still keeping it detectable and adding to the sensory pleasure!
  5. I’m going to try it next in a sauce to go with blood pudding that I’ve just bought from Sweden. Watch out for this post!

Acknowledgment to hlyf for feeding me with brunost.