Brunost!

by mary on September 30, 2012

serving raspberry jam onto brunost on bread

brunost on bread with strawberry jam

Since August we’ve had a happy addition to our family. A tall teenaged Norwegian one, a hit at the American high school he’s attending this year. He arrived bearing brunost, a unique specialty cheese that’s well-loved in Norway.

Why brunost? My youngest son discovered the joys of brunost when he went to a summer language camp near Oslo last year. Open-faced sandwiches were big there, an option at almost every meal. My son chose a brunost and jam sandwich for breakfast every morning and raved about it on his return.

So when our host-son-to-be Skyped us from Oslo asking what items he should bring, I jokingly mentioned that he could bring along some brunost. He said that actually he could do that, and arrived with not only brunost but a cute metal moose-shaped cheese slicer. The slicer is essential, since brunost is so soft and sticky that you can’t really slice it with a knife. And moose are abundant in Norway– our host son gets them in his backyard on the outskirts of Oslo.

Brunost begins with whey simmered in a pot for hours until it turns golden brown and develops a deep caramel goodness much like dulce de leche. Frequently, cream from cow’s milk is then added. Between the caramelized milk sugar and the cream, this is to regular cheese as Nutella is to hazelnut butter.

It’s very soft, almost spreadable. There’s a similar product that is spreadable called pim. Cheese is made from the curd, not the whey, of milk. Brunost and Italian ricotta are the exceptions, both made from whey, and neither is technically a cheese at all.

We had our brunost on bread, but it’s often served on a cracker. You may wonder if it actually goes with the jam it’s shown with in the photo.  Yes, emphatically so. The brunost has a softness and flavor that’s a little reminiscent of peanut butter, and we all know how well that goes with jam. Strawberry jam and brunost is a favored combination.

Brunost comes in many varieties, at least twenty according to our host son, and is made from a mixture of goat’s milk and cow’s milk. Some, like the cheese our host son brought, are mostly made from cow’s milk with just a touch of goat’s milk. Others have more goat’s milk and a stronger flavor. Most are made by TINE, the big, government-owned dairy monopoly of Norway.

The cheese our host son brought was Gudbrandsdalsost, named after the big beautiful valley in Norway where it was first produced. It’s rich, mild, creamy, and sweet with a full caramel flavor.  From the taste I wouldn’t have known that it has any goat milk in it at all.

In the US, Amazon carries several kinds of brunost including Ski Queen Gjetost, which is Gudbrandsdalsost made by TINE and packaged for the international market. Whole Foods also carries Ski Queen. Scandinavian Specialties in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle has several varieties of brunost including Gudbrandsdalsost and they ship. I’ll be sorely tempted to pick up another block of it next time I’m in the neighborhood.

opened block of brunost cheese with jar of raspberry jam and cheese slicer

Brunost, raspberry jam, and cheese slicer– note the moose!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane
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October 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Love the moose cheese slicer! And I have never heard of Brunost! So interesting! I hope you are enjoying your host son, sounds like a fun opportunity!
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mary mary October 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

You are learning everything about cheese through Cheeseapalooza, I wonder if you could make brunost at home? I’m sure it would take a whole lot of whey, but when you make cheese, you do have a lot of whey left over, which suppose is how brunost got started back when Norway was a poor country. It has been very fun to have our host student, he’s a great guy.
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Kiran from KiranTarun.com
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October 3, 2012 at 5:35 am

Never heard of brunost before, but it does look like a delicious spread :)
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mary mary October 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

It is, definitely try it if you get the chance.
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OneMommy
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October 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

That has to be the cutest cheese slicer I’ve ever seen!
How neat that he was able to bring that to share — it does sound like a wonderful treat!

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mary mary October 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Hi, OneMommy, nice to see you here again. He also brought a big gray boiled-wool trivet in the shape of a moose– I should show you that, too.
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Ivy
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October 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Never heard of brunost before either but caramelized cheese cannot but be goood!
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mary mary October 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

:)
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Yankeepants October 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Your post was such a treat — I love brunost, but it’s been years since I’ve had it. Love the idea of the open-faced breakfast sandwiches, and so interesting to hear the process by which brunost is made. I think I know what I’ll be picking up from the cheese aisle of our co-op this weekend…

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mary mary October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Glad to remind you of brunost. It’s not exactly on the anti-inflammatory diet, but it’s a nice treat.

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