October 14, 2017

Gjetost (Norwegian Goat Whey Cheese)

Making cheese means making whey, lots of whey. More whey than one knows what to do with. Usually I make ricotta with my whey (how-to here). I love ricotta and have a number of recipes I use it in (click links for those): as a fat substitute in biscuits and ice cream (called gelato), also in cheesecake and gnocchi (Italian dumplings). But ricotta leaves whey behind as well, more than I can used in cooking. With about four gallons of whey in the fridge at the moment, I thought it was time to try something else.

I grabbed David Asher's The Art of Natural Cheesemaking and looked at the chapter on whey cheeses. Of course ricotta is always listed first, but then I saw his recipe for mysost. Mysost (my' sost) is a whey cheese made from cow milk whey. The goat version is gjetost (yeh' tohst or g tohst') which means goat cheese. It is also called brunost (brun' ohst) or brown cheese.

The recipe looked simple enough with only two ingredients: whey and cream. The down side was that it called for two to three hours of constant stirring after the cream is added. Now, me and sitting still don't get along very well, so I started looking for alternatives. I compared David's recipe with the one in Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making. No shortening of cooking time, but it called for using a blender. That didn't seem very authentic to me, however, my own method didn't turn out so very authentic either! I used my crock pot! It solved the constant stirring problem and worked well for me.

Here is the process in pictures.

Norwegian Goat Whey Cheese

  • 1 gal. fresh sweet goat whey from any goat cheese
  • 1.5 C goat cream (how to extract goat cream here)

Fill crock pot with whey & turn on high. When
it begins to simmer, skim foam and set aside.

Once it's simmered down a bit, the foam can be stirred back in.

It's about half the volume here and the consistency of evaporated milk.

As it cooks down it continues to thicken. When it's about
one quarter of the original volume, stir in the cream.

The cream is optional, but usually added to give the final product a creamier texture.

I stirred frequently and scraped the sides of the crock pot. The
scrapings melted back in & I used a little whisk to smooth them out.

How much to cook it down is apparently a matter of taste. The more
 it's cooked down, the firmer the cheese. It was 9 p.m. and I didn't
want to let it cook for another night, so this is where I stopped.

Primost is a softer, spreadable version of mysost or getost. It's made by not cooking the whey down so far. I think it would take a bit of experimenting to learn how long to cook the whey for the desired end product.

The hot cheese is cooled in a bowl in cold water. Stirring
helps maintain a creamy texture. It thickened as it cooled.

The last step is to put it in a mold. I used a glass dish, but traditional
Norwegian gjetost is put into square or rectangular wood molds.

Then it was into the fridge for overnight. The next morning the challenge was getting it out of the glass dish. I can see why the Norwegians use take-apart wooden molds!

My first gjetost

Mine was too hard to spread, but too soft to make firm, thin slices. But that's okay because it gives me experiential information for next time.

Next time I'll cook a little longer for a firmer, more
sliceable cheese, plus I'll try to find a better mold.

How does it taste? Heavenly! You'd never guess it was cheese! It has a tangy, nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is a delight to the taste buds. We had it for breakfast in place of our usual peanut butter and jelly on toast.

Can't beat this: toasted bread from our homegrown wheat, raspberry
jelly from our own raspberries, and gjetost from our own goat milk!

What did Dan think? He agreed it's a definite winner. We really like our PB&J breakfasts, but until I can grow peanuts and make our own peanut butter, this is an outstanding replacement, in both taste and price (free versus about $4.50 per jar of "natural" peanut butter.)

Will I try it again? Absolutely! I'd like to experiment with no cream and also with using whole goat milk instead of cream, just to see the texture differences (plus I have way more whey than cream). I'd also like to try primost, the spreadable version. That might be the best option for our morning breakfast sandwiches.

The only other thing I have is a few more links for both gjetost and mysost:
  • Gavin Webber (formerly of The Greening of Gavin) has a good video here. He adds cinnamon to his.
  • David Fankhauser's gjetost photo recipe (no added cream) is here.
  • Docaitta's recipe (here) used the whey from whole milk ricotta. That recipe is first, followed by the one for mysost. Also without cream.
  • And if you would like to hear the authentic Norwegian pronunciation of gjetost, plus see Norwegian dairy goats and how they milk them (makes my back hurt just to watch!) click here


Judy said...

" The next morning the challenge was getting it out of the glass dish."

Do you have a spring-form pan? I wonder if you lined a the spring-form pan with parchment paper and then put in your cheese if it would come out easier.

Leigh said...

Judy, that's a good idea, but no I don't. It would have to be a pretty small one, considering how much the whey reduces. Worth looking into (and so are those nice Norwegian molds!)

Valerie said...

This is the perfect time of year for Gjetost...it goes great with apples (and grapes). I think it has caramel like flavor to it.

Leigh said...

Valerie, what an excellent idea! I've always like peanut butter on apple slices, but gjetost sounds even better!

Florida Farm Girl said...

I haven't had gjetost in many years but it is very good stuff. Might have to pick up some on the next trip to the grocery store.

Rain said...

Congratulations Leigh!! The cheese looks awesome! I have the same book, but I haven't tried any recipes from it yet. I have so many going at the moment, plus my Colby fail kind of discouraged me. But I'm trying a new curd cheese recipe next, I am still trying to find that "squeak" for my poutines! :)

Harry Flashman said...

In Spring, Summer and Fall, we have a farmers market here in the county three days a week. There's a lady there who sells home made cheese. She always sells what she brings and makes good money. I bet you could do that.

Mama Pea said...

What memories this post brought back! When we first moved up here some forty years ago, we were living on half the income we had back in Illinois. Trying to build a homestead on unimproved land plus buy need supplies was a real challenge. As a very special treat (and not done often) I would buy a small brick of gjetost cheese from the grocery store. Oh, how I loved that rich, caramel taste!

I had no idea one could make it so easily (well, relatively easy for most of the things one attempst to do on the homestead!) right at home. This was a great how-to post, Leigh. Thank you.

Leigh said...

Sue, I was completely oblivious to it until I started to research what to do with some of my extra whey. I'm so glad I tried this recipe!

Rain, thanks! Which book is that? David's or Ricki's? Ricki was the one who got me started with mozzarella, but I had trouble with it until another goat keeper gave me a bunch of tips for handling goat milk for cheese.

The other day I started working my way through David's book and will have another cheese to blog about next weekend. :)

Harry, Dan's been thinking the same thing, LOL. I told him we'd have to have more goats to make enough to sell! He had to think about that one, but it is a possibility.

Mama Pea, aren't there quite a few Norwegian descendants in your part of the country? I imagine they make wonderful gjetost! It would be a treat for anybody. If you ever finally decide to get those goats, you can make it easily yourself!

Renee Nefe said...

Thursday, just before work (we're doing a show at a school) we were sitting outside and talking about the house next door that has chickens and what kinds of animals we might like to have. Matt asked about cheese. I said I knew the gist of it from you...went through the process very quickly as I knew he wouldn't copy it from me. They were impressed. Probably more impressed if they actually look up the process and saw that I was right. ;) I think for now we'll all stick to doing theater.

Paula said...

I love gjetost!!

Now I'll have to get some the next time I'm at the grocery store.

Woolly Bits said...

we were very reluctant to try this "brown" cheese, when we were on holidays in norway many years back - but it did really taste very nice! you could always line your smaller tin/form/mold with cheese cloth to get it out? or get one of those wooden forms to make tofu? I still have one flying about here, haven't made tofu myself for many years (though the leftover okara makes very nice cookies:). having no milking animals, there's not much point in making cheese myself but I find it interesting reading nonetheless!
preparing for the very first hurricane on this side of the pond - which of course has to hit ireland - tomorrow....

M.K. said...

Just LOOK at that last picture!! All your own items, from your own hard work on your own soil! How rewarding and encouraging! I know it was delicious. How interesting that cheese is!

Leigh said...

Renee, good for you! Things like making cheese are truly fascinating, and it's too bad more people don't take an interest.

Paula, you know, I've never even seen gjetost at the grocery store. Of course, I've never looked!

Bettina, you're getting a hurricane?! Oh my, I hope it doesn't hit Ireland very hard.

The tofu mold is a good idea. I'll have to look around for one.

M.K., I know! What a blessing. It's truly taught me not to take good food for granted.

Sandra @ Thistle Cove Farm said...

Perhaps parchment paper in your mold...? There's a reason home and family come first; when correctly managed, it takes time, dedication, work and lots and lots of love.

Ed said...

So many people are ditching their crock pots for insta-pots but I for one will never give mine up. They are just too handy for situations like this.

Leigh said...

Sandra, that's an idea. Still looking around for ideas but that would work great for lifting the cheese out.

Ed, you mean those plug-in pressure cookers? I hear they're great but it's definitely not a replacement for a crock pot! At least not in my book either. I use mine for making tomato sauce and apple butter as well as soups and even desserts!

Unknown said...

Well done! As a norwegian, I feel obligated to tell you that the trick to eating brunost or geitost is to use the norwegian cheese slicer: https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteh%C3%B8vel

That way you can get fairly thin slices, preventing thick blocks with too much taste (depending on how much taste you got and like, of course), and also making the cheese last longer.

Best regards,
Bergen, Norway

Leigh said...

Eivind, thank you! Yes, a Norwegian cheese slicer is exactly what I need. I'm off to see if I can find one, because this will be a cheese that I will make again and again.

Unknown said...

If you're having trouble finding one, let me know, and I'll send you one in the post :)

Leigh said...

That is extremely kind of you to offer! Authentic Norwegian would be best, but I suspect there's a Chinese knock-off being sold somewhere this side of the pond. :)

Unknown said...

To be fair, I think quite a lot of the ones being sold in norwegian stores these days are also chinese made, so if you find one like that, it's probably much the same. Good luck, and let me know if you're unable to find one :)

Leigh said...

Thank you, I will. :)

Unknown said...

I've always avoided making this because of the constant stirring! I like your idea of using a crock pot... If I ever get one I will definitely be trying this your way.


Leigh said...

Kate, it definitely has saved me some burnt pots!

Carla said...

I made this with what David Asher calls 'cooked whey', whey from using acid only to curdle to a 'fresh' cheese, not rennet, no culture. Put it in crockpot over night to reduce per your suggestion, then onto the stove in the morning. No cream since I didn't have any and other recipes for gjetost don't use it. 3qts whey reduced to 1/2cup gjetost. It came out grainy, which I knew would be the case as the 'no cream' recipes use an immersion blender to get rid of the grainyness but I didn't have enough substance left after cooking down to blend. I'm trying to figure out just when I should have pulled it off the stove. It never really got 'thick' before it started frothing. Mine definitely frothed, but that was when the color started to change. Did I cook it too long? I certainly did not need to cool it. I put it in a buttered ceramic mold and it instantly solidified. I would love to get the creamy dreamy dark cheese in this video:
Just not sure how I need to cook it to get there. Or if I need to use a cultured or renneted cheese whey in order to get there. I have a few scraps of maple leftover from a project. I'm going to make one of those wooden molds. Good to know how much whey needs what size of mold. Have you made gjetost again since your original post? Any additional tips and tricks to share? Thank you for your 'dream' books. I finished both of them in two days!

Leigh said...

Carla, thank you and welcome! Yes, I've made a lot of gjetost because I end up with so much whey! Now, though, I mostly make it spreadable (primost) by simply cooking it less. I don't add cream anymore.

What I find, is that the length of cooking affects two things: color and thickness. The longer it cooks the darker it gets, but it also sets up firmer in the mold.

Mine is all from renneted whey, but I'll have to look up David Asher's method (he's my cheese go-to guy). I think it would be interesting to experiment and find out what differences the whey makes.

The graininess can be eliminated by cooling it down rapidly and constant stirring (I use my whisk). I put the hot gjetost into a bowl and set the bowl in ice water. It really does make a difference in the final texture.

I notice you have a blog but haven't blogged in awhile. Maybe you'll take pictures of your maple molds and share!