Finland, a Scandinavian country, located north of the Baltic Sea, and bordering Russia in the east, produces significant amounts of cheese. This prosperous country’s economy is based on three segments, forestry, machinery and agriculture. The land is flat, green, vast, cold and perfectly suitable for dairy cattle.
The country produces a lot of cheese under the most hygienic conditions and exports to a number of countries including Canada. Finnish cheese, despite the country’s high standard of living, has always been very competitively priced, and enjoys, at least in Canada, a popularity many other countries envy.
Finnish cheese is consistent in quality and taste.
Many of the Finnish cheeses follow recipes developed in other European countries and marketed under names like Emmental, Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, mozzarella, Brie and camembert. They are copied from famous regions, yet Finnish cheeses possess a distinct flavour all of their own. This is due to the strains of cow the industry uses, and the composition of grass. Most of the exported cheese is processed for better preservation and consistency.
Although many of the Finnish cheeses are imitations, the country has its own delightful local cheeses worth exploring.
Valio is the largest dairy in the country. Late A.I. Virtanen, professor and researcher, has been instrumental in improving cheese production at Valio. He was in charge of the research laboratory for 50 years, and is the only Finnish Nobel Prize winner in Sciences. Thanks to his research, Valio has become the largest Emmantal producer in the world.
Finland has been producing cheese for centuries, but the industry was artisanal and local as the population preferred soft, and fresh cheeses.
Turuunmaa, a semi-soft cheese, is aged for seven weeks. It is mild with numerous irregular holes.
Oltermanni is a four-week old slightly sour cream cheese, suitable for sandwiches, cheese trays and salads. Kotijuusto is a home-style law fat cheese for dieters.
Juustoleipa is a slightly salty, baked and crunchy cheese superb for desserts, salads and snacks.
Aura Juusto is the Finnish version of blue cheese with an unmistakable smell and taste. It is hard and easy to cut in wedges. Suitable for soups, sauces, salads, as a filling for turnovers or cheese trays this is highly flavoured cheese worth looking for.
Next time you shop, look for Finnish Emmental (blue, red and black labels indicating different lengths of aging and flavour depth), edam, Lappi, fontal, hovi, or gruyere.
Finnish cheeses taste great and are likely to delight your taste buds without breaking the bank.