Pultost is a traditional Norwegian cheese that has a long history spanning several centuries. It was once a popular product across most of Norway, but most typically produced in the southeastern inland counties of Hedmark and Oppland.
This cheese was produced in sæter, (the summer farms in the mountains) and conserved throughout the winter. The cattle grazed the fertile pastures while the producers were occupied in the cheese and butter production, and the large variety of pastures available resulted in a very tasty and particular milk. Traditionally, butter was the most marketable product of the small dairy farms and pultost was considered a by-product, and thus a poor food mostly for family use.
Pultost is a sour milk cheese made from cow’s milk without the use of rennet. The milk is skimmed immediately after milking, while it is still warm. Adding a self-produced culture of old strains of lactic bacteria starts the acid coagulation. The milk is then slowly heated to a temperature between 45°C and 65°C (depending on the local tradition and producers’ recipes). When it reaches the required temperature, it is left to rest for one hour and the curd is then ladled into cloths and left to drain for two days. It is then crumbled and allowed to ferment at room temperature. Traditionally the maturation took place in wooden containers called nøler.
The unique taste of pultost results from the addition of salt and caraway seeds, which stop the process of fermentation. Pultost can be eaten fresh or matured for up to one year. It is light yellow in colour and has a strong taste that becomes more intense and sharp with aging. It is usually served with boiled potatoes or spread on flatbrød (the traditional Norwegian flatbread) together with butter. The cream, which is separated from the fresh milk at the beginning of the cheese making process, can be either used to produce sour cream or artisan butter.
Hedmark and Oppland counties, southeastern Norway
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