Will Studd explores the thrilling mountains landscapes and fresh fjordal villages of Norway in search of traditional artisan cheese makers. He discovers an array of rare, but established cheeses dating back to the Viking times, and determined dairy farmers, dedicated to ensuring the traditional art of cheesemaking in Norway is not lost or forgotten.
What is artisanal cheese making?
Artisanal cheese making is about producing old world style cheeses. Artisanal cheeses are made using traditional recipes and methods which have been refined over centuries. Often this involves working by hand to produce unique and high quality exceptional cheese varieties.
Some of the cheeses Will Studd unearths utilise raw or unpasteurised milk. Norwegian farmers claim this imbues the cheese with a robust and vibrant flavour, and the inclusion of raw milk is often a classic trademark of the artisanal cheese.
Five fabulous Norwegian artisanal cheeses
1 – Pultost
Pultost is an authentic and crumbly Norwegian cheese made using raw milk from the Telemark cow breed. Traditionally, the milk is separated in wooden trays of pine, which act as a natural preservative and flavourant. Because the wood absorbs excess moisture, there are no chemicals added in the process. Pultost is extremely textural and flavoured by wild cumin grown in the region. Locals serve this delicious, creamy cheese with flatbread, potato and sour cream.
2 – Gamelost
Of all the Norwegian cheeses, Gamelost has the most ‘nasty’ reputation. This is because of its natural pungency and sour flavour, and the lengthy maturation process, which sees the cheese develop startlingly fluffy mouldy layers. Studd visits a Norwegian family who has been making Gamelost for over thirteen generations and even they seem to agree that the flavour is one that requires both initiaion and acquisition! Served with a healthy dollop of butter and golden syrup, perhaps the best trait about Gamelot cheese is its rumoured aphrodisiac qualities!
3 – Jarlsberg
Jarlsberg is as famous for its holes as it is for being produced in Norway. It is made from summer milk supplied by cows grazing on luscious highland pastures. Jarlsberg was recently revived after almost disappearing altogether and has now become Norway’s favourite cheese export. The new recipe for Jarlsberg follows old traditional methods, and its huge scale of production has assisted in keeping many small dairy farms alive in Norway. Jarlsberg is produced in large yellow wheels with a diameter of approximately 30cm. The cheese has a smooth natural rind and a dense yellow interior full of a mild sweet flavour. Produced in a number of varieties, such as Lite, Smoked or Special Reserve, Jarlsberg is perfect cold or cooked, or with a gorgeous drop of your favourite wine.
4 – Gjetost
A brown goat’s cheese, Gjetost is one of Norway’s most important artisanal cheeses. It is made from a mixture of whey, milk and cream - refrigerated naturally in the glacial streams - and stirred over heat for up to ten hours. The sugars in the milk naturally caramelise to produce a sweet and smooth, fudge like cheese, which the locals suggest is perfect with coffee and dark bread for breakfast!
5 – Gjertson
Stevanger is a coastal town, host to the largest number of dairy cows in Norway, and a new, raw milk cheese called Gjertson. This is a mild but tasty cheese which its only producer, Hans Voll attributes to the use of raw milk, which he fought to make legal in the region. Gjertson is matured for at least six months to produce a glorious, robust cheese.
Artisanal cheese making is an art form, which Will Studd is eager to understand and share with his viewers. The Norwegian cheeses presented in this first episode are some of the rarest cheeses in the world!