Sami Goat Cheese

Ark of taste
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In the past, the nomadic Sámi did not have any goats because they milked reindeer. When the Sámi families began to live more stable lifestyles, goats that were cheap to buy were acquired. We do not really know when the goats were incorporated into the Sámi household. There is a special breed called lappgeten. It is a small compact goat, it is often white and sometimes has black and gray patches or streaks. Traditionally, people started making cheese rennet by placing a reindeer’s stomach in water, which then made it secrete the rennet. The goat’s milk is heated in a kettle to a suitable temperature. Rennet (which can easily be purchased nowadays) is added and the mixture is gently stirred until the curd becomes grainy. After this the curd is removed and placed in a form made from wood or roots. The whey is then squeezed out from the curd. The leftover whey in the container was traditionally boiled into butter. The Sámi ate cheese whey as a gruel.

Goats have been found in old Sámi households. Reindeer herding families owned goats and brought them up to their summer residences. During the winters, the goats were housed with the farmers. The Sámi families had goats so that they could make goat’s cheese which was then dried and smoked. When the goat cheese was dry and had a faint smoky flavor, the cheese was cut into thin slices and freshly brewed coffee was poured over the cheese. The goat cheese provided energy during long mountain hikes. It was the Sámi women and children who took care of the goats during the summer. The goats were loose during the day and walked around and grazed. In the evenings, they were milked and locked in either a goat hut or a goat stable. They produced about 1 liter of milk at each milking. The milk was filtered and boiled to get rid of the sharp goat taste. The goats were omnivores, they could eat anything. In the evenings they were given fish bones, this was something that the goats liked. In the wintertime the goats were taken care of by farmers close to the Sámi family. Goat cheeses are produced and sold privately by Sámi people. They no longer use the lappgeten breed. They buy goat milk from the breeders, who produce and sell it. There is one commercial producer of goat’s cheese in Norway who uses their own goats. The producer is recommended by the Norwegian Sámi. Sámi people do not own the company, but the Norwegian Sámi recommend this producer because they make goat’s cheese according to the traditional Sámi method. Slow Food Sápmi have not found any lap goat (lappgeten) cheese producers who are Sámi or even any other cheese producer who use this breed of goat. This is an opportunity for someone who is Sámi to begin breeding and producing wonderful cheeses!

The cheese was eaten fresh or dried and then smoked a little in the opening of the hut.

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Norrbottens län

Production area:Sapmi region

Other info


Milk and milk products

Indigenous community:SAmi
Nominated by:Anneli Jonsson