My husband is Swedish.
While he hasn't lived in Sweden (the U.P. is close though, right?), I am told on good authority that all of his ancestors are superior to Norwegians. (The same authorities tell me that joke will only resonate with Swedes. For the rest of you, it is sort of like Buckeyes v Wolverines but with more war and less burning dumpsters.)
And while he has a fondness for vikings and wooly sweaters, his Swedish roots really only show when it comes to comfort foods. He eats an entire loaf of cardamom bread before I can finish one slice. The smells of pepparkakor fill our house during the holidays. His taste in cheese is completely different than my own. For example, he can eat a log of bondost. I cannot. Bondost, you ask? A cheese that is curdled, heated, cut, salted, stirred, pressed into forms, and immersed into brine for a day or two before allowed to ripen for six to eight weeks. Also, gjetost.
Have you tried gjetost?
The Swedish name is actually brunost. Gjetost is the name in North America and Norway (more commonly referred to as the Swedish national zoo).
It is salty and sweet and grassy - it is salty caramel cheese. It is most similar in flavor and complexity to cajeta (Mexican goat's milk caramel which is similar to dulce de leche which is not at all like gjetost). And that makes sense because to make cajeta, you boil down some goat's milk; to make gjetost, you boil down some goat's milk whey.
Both are an acquired taste for many.
We all know that local ingredients are best. They are best for the local economy and our communities. When they are produced in a sustainable way, they are best for the environment and our health. When they are consumed seasonally, they are the best in nutrition and flavor. It is when we are talking about budgets, that local ingredients are not always the best. Triaging those locally spent dollars is important.
Milk is one of those things, like tomatoes, that just tastes better when it is local and very fresh. I am lucky because we have really good local cows' milk in these parts. While I love drinking it (it doesn't taste burnt), I love the way it cooks even better. I use the cream to make butter, buttermilk, whipped cream, iced cream and I use the whole milk to make alcoholic beverages and cheese.
I have tried many recipes but tend to riff off of this recipe for ricotta cheese by David Lebovitz. (I do know that to make true Italian ricotta, you are supposed to only use whey. This is better for me.) When I want to make queso fresco, I do the same recipe but with apple cider vinegar and I put the curds under a weight for a few hours. When I want to make paneer, I use a mix of whole milk and heavy cream and this method by Barbara. Every single time I have made cheese over the last 5 or 6 years, I have wondered what I could do with the pot of white liquid that remains after straining out the cheese. I have seen suggestions to use it in pasta sauces but that seems wholly inadequate for my need to use everything to its fullest potential.
And then, one night, while searching for information on future cheesemaking experiments, I saw this recipe for gjetost. I can summarize this recipe quickly: after pulling the cheese curds out of your pot, leave the remaining whey on the heat for hours and hours and hours until it boils down into a caramel. Take it off of the heat, cool it quickly, smash it into a buttered container and call it mysost (unless you used goat's milk - then it is gjetost). Impress your friends and make your husband fall in love with you all over again.