From flavors to textures, Norwegian cheeses are made in some creative ways. This old cheese from Norway, spelled gamelost, gammelost, or gammalost is no exception. However you spell it, it is fun to say: GAM-mel-oost. (For those who love being right and knowing why, it’s gamelost because the only company that makes it prints it that way on the package.)
Gammel means old in Norwegian. Ost, of course, is cheese.
The interesting bit isn’t that the block of cheese itself that is so old; it ages roughly one to six months, where a sharp cheddar cheeses can wait over fifteen months.
The old part comes from the recipe: the spoiled milk and the mold. Well, and the smell. The smell seems very, very old.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
How Gamalost Cheese is Made
The old story is that you put cheese in an old sock, bury it in a pile of manure, and when it is finished it will crawl out!
Since we don’t have confirmed reports of that being 100% reliable, here is a gamalost recipe that other cheesemakers have tested.
Generally speaking, to make the gamalost cheese from Norway, an acid is added to skim milk, causing it to sour. After souring and curdling for several additional days the fermented solids are pressed firmly into forms to create the shape.
These cakes of cheese are then repeatedly hand rubbed with different types of mold and set aside to age. (Your career is looking much brighter now, isn’t it!?) Because of this labor-intensive process, the cheese is in scarce supply and difficult to find outside of Norway.
When it’s finished the cheese is a golden brown color. Technically, gamalost is in the blue cheese family so you may find flecks of blue or green inside the cheese and that’s nothing to worry about. If the crust of mold on the outside gets out of hand you can trim it off.
The texture is mostly grainy – it almost looks like a muffin – but when you break it apart you will find that very fine strings appear. Those are not melt-y strings like pizza, it’s a result of the fermentation process. The cheese is very dense and firm. It should be somewhat moist, but dries out over time.
Even though it is a dairy product, it stores for an extended period without the need for refrigeration like flatbread and stock fish.
Commercial production of this unique Norwegian cheese is primarily by the company Tine in Vik. There is a gamalost festival at the beginning of each summer if you plan to be in Sogn at that time.
How To Eat Gamalost
Because it is coarse and dense, gamalost is best cut with a hollow blade cheese knife.
Small chunks can be included on a cheese tray for sampling with other cheeses from Norway. Thin slices are often placed on hearty crackers or breads. Fruits and nuts are also good companion foods.
Due to the boldness of this cheese, a robust beer, gin, or chilled aquavit are good drink pairings.
We are constantly updating the Norwegian Cheese video playlist on our YouTube channel, so you can check in for any new gamalost recipes or taste tests we come across.
The World’s Smelliest Cheese?
Food critics call this old cheese from Norway “aromatic.” Notes of ammonia or gym locker are commonly reported by others.
Because of this, your fragrant gamalost is best stored in a tightly sealed container.
Gamalost Is Good For You
If you can actually get your hands on some, then get past the aroma, Gamalost contains large amounts of vitamin K2, is high in protein, and low in fat. Unlike most cheeses, it contains no salt.
A study has shown that people who eat this Norwegian cheese have better blood pressure scores.
Please comment with your experiences, where to shop for gamelost outside of Norway, or any other related topics. You might also enjoy the Freaky Foods From Norway page.
I learned to love gamelost when I would visit Norway with my mom and stay with her sister. My aunt would have a piece of bread each morning with Butter and gamelost and I finally tried it…….. MMMMM!!!
Thinking of it and when I can get it eating it reminds me of wonderful times of being in her kitchen and sharing stories of family!
One story was about someone putting the gamelost in a cabinet next to a jar that held a kidney stone someone had passed. After a long time the kidney stone disappeared…. of course , credit was given to the gamelost for the disappearing stone!
Lol! What treasured memories, Karen. Thanks ever so much for sharing.
Long ago ago in Norway traditional food was served at a wedding. It must have been the 1950s, and the couple were going on a honeymoon touring the coast in their big car. Friends tied ribbons on the vehicle to make it festive, then pranked them by putting gamelost in the engine compartment. It was looking like a fragrant, and memorable week on the road… Even better than that, the car was returned to the friends with cheese intact and it never really smelled quite the same! You know what the say about payback, especially when the ferries give clever couples freedom from the road!
I once had cheese dunked in coffee in Norway and can’t remember what it was called it was in a little village
Can anyone help
I lived in Norway for 4 years. I love cheese. I love all the french, so called stinky cheeses. I never met a cheese I could no eat. I could not handle the combination of saw dust texture and urine/locker room smell of this cheese. This is the only cheese I know of that I do not like.