One of Norway's most intriguing foods (to foreigners at least) is eaten daily by many Norwegians for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack.
Norway’s national diet harks back to its days as a poor country, with a focus on preserving fish and meats in salt, lots of potatoes and simple sauces. This heritage still dominates today with delicacies such as lutefisk eaten through choice rather than necessity.
Read more: Norwegian food & drink
One of Norway’s best loved culinary treats is also one of its simplest and I’m surprised it’s taken me ten months to write about it. Perhaps that's because it took me ten months to even begin to understand it!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present to you the Norwegian phenomenon of… brown cheese. Yes, it really does look like this:
Shortly after I arrived in Oslo, my friend Ståle decided to “treat” me to my first taste of this Norwegian phenomenon. I agreed, but on the condition that he try none other than Marmite on toast. It was a cultural culinary exchange like no other!
Brown cheese has a lot in common with Marmite:
- Both are eaten at breakfast, lunch or tea
- Both are made using a by-product of another process
- Both sound utterly disgusting
- You either love it or hate it
- Both foods have spawned mad fan groups
Anyway, back to the point. You've probably found this article because you are wondering one thing above all else.
What is brown cheese?
In simplest terms, brown cheese, or brunost as it is written in Norwegian is a tan-coloured ‘whey cheese' with a distinctive caramel flavour.
Part of me feels it’s cheating to use the word cheese in its name at all, because, well, it isn’t technically cheese!
The production process is actually quite simple. The water from the whey of goat’s milk is boiled down, which caramelises the sugars. The resulting gloop is left to cool and bingo, you've got yourself some real Norwegian brown cheese.
It's then set into small blocks most commonly of around 500 grams, wrapped and can be eaten (and by some, enjoyed!) immediately.
Types of brown cheese
In Norway most brown cheese is mainly produced by the national dairy TINE, although many regional variations exist. Everyone seems to have a favourite, and somewhat unsurprisingly that also seems to be the variety from the region closet to where they're from!
Read more: Norwegian cheese
But local rivalries aside, if there's any kind of brown cheese on the breakfast or lunchtime buffet table, its fans will make a beeline for it whatever its origin. I'm not normally in that queue, but I think you've cottoned on to that by now.
The most common brand you'll find is Gudbrandsdalsost, marketed by Tine as the ‘original' brown cheese. It's made from a mix of goat's and cow's milk, with a history that can be traced back more than 150 years. Tine describes the taste as 'rounded and full-bodied'.
For a lighter taste, try Fløtemysost, made only with cow's milk.
How to eat brunost
The most common way to serve brunost is by using the unique cheese slicer that you can see in some of the pictures on this page. This item is an integral part of any Norwegian kitchen.
You slice off a slither from the block and can eat it atop toast, on a crispbread topped with strawberry jam, or even with waffles. Those are the most common methods, but I've seen it consumed in all manner of inventive ways. In South Korea, they even use it as a pizza topping. Yes, really!
Ståle didn't give up after my first taste of brunost ended quickly with a screwed up face and a mess in the bin. A few weeks later he tried again, but this time incorporated some brown cheese into a sauce for pancakes.
This was much better and made the most of the brunost's sweetness. I recommend trying this out as a good introduction to the unique flavour.
For me, the most off-putting aspect of brunost is the colour. During my first tasting session, I couldn't help but notice the similarity in hue with my floor. So much so, I had to take a photo.
What does brown cheese taste like?
This is a difficult one to describe. Let's return to Marmite for a moment. That's commonly described as a “strong yeasty spread”, which although accurate, isn't descriptive enough for someone who's never tried it. It's exactly the same with brown cheese, you just have to try it.
The trick is to not think of it as a cheese at all. If you are expecting to taste a fine cheddar you will find the taste repulsive! But if you expect to taste a creamy, caramel yet also savoury mixture, you're in for a treat.
A few other blogs I've read describe the taste as “salty goat's fudge” so I guess that's as good a description as any. Let's go with that. Salty goat's fudge. Mmmmm!
When I first published this post I'd been in Norway for just a few months. I had written that I was slowly becoming accustomed to the charms of brunost. Seven years later, I have to report that I haven't eaten the stuff for years!
There's almost always something else on the table or in the fridge that I prefer to eat. As with all traditional foods, it's each to their own. If you grew up eating brown cheese, you're probably going to love it. Much like Marmite!
What do you think of brown cheese? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
120 thoughts on “Brunost: Norwegian Brown Cheese”
You should be sure to distinguish between the Gjetost you can get in Norway or at specialty food stores in U.S. The Ski brand is American and not so good!
The Ski Queen brand of brunost is, in fact, Tine’s brand of G35 cheese. The exact same thing. It’s just packaged as SkiWQueen for export.
P’m Mexican=American and have always loved this cheese. I first tried it on a whim, as I LOVE cheese in the 80’s, and have love it it since, It reminds me of a solidified Mexican Caajeta…..go Gjetost!
Can anyone tell me the difference between brunost, myseost and gjetost?
Mysost = brunost, but it’s not a cheese at all, really just caramel. gjeitost is cheese and not brown cheese.
nothing they’re all gross
how did u end up on such a specific blog on something u think is gross
I used to buy the Ski Queen version of this stuff, at my little hometown grocery store in extreme Northern Minnesota (Roseau, MN) when I was a kid. My hometown had mostly Norwegian & Swedish heritage, so I guess it was a common thing. I’m turning 45 this year, and asked for a block of it from my kiddos for my birthday. I hope they get it as I haven’t had it for years. I remember slicing it super thin & letting it ‘melt’ on my tongue. It was one of my favorite things as a kid – weird kid, I know!
I remember the flavor being like a malty browned carmel fudge, but more savory, like a good, rich, cheese.
P.S. I also love lutefisk! Have had it for Christmas dinner since as far back as I can remember.
I love lutefisk, too. I am the only lutefisk lover left in my family. I still fix it just for myself but no longer have it for Christmas eve.
It’s hard to find in Florida.
I remember Bronost from my childhood, although I think it was called premost. I appreciate your article about Nowegian cheese .
Now I might be able to find it.
I had to endure Lutefisk as a kid every year around Christmas… made my kids try it once as part of their Norwegian heritage appreciation. They felt the same way I did about it….🤮 😂
I found it at a Sprouts in Florida
I think actually that brunost is made from normal cowmilk (there’s a heard of cows on the packet at least).
In my experience, brunost is sacrosanct. There are rituals and ways of doing things which must be followed to the letter, lest you be cast out of society as a foreign wierdo/corrupting force. That’s not to say that Norwegians don’t do weird things with brunost, but compare and contrast:
Brunost with a lettuce leaf – weird
Brunost with wafer thin ham – weird
Brunost with sliced tomato – weird
Brunost with chicken – weird
Brunost with roast biff – sacridelicious
Brunost on a waffle – snadder
Brunost with JAM, F***ING JAM – A-OK, PARD’NER
JAM! JAM! JAM on cheese! Yeah, JAM! I kid you not, JAM! And if your head just exploded, you should see the mess it leaves when you slice a cucumber onto ei skive med brunost while eating lunch with your Norwegian co-workers.
Best comment ever, official!
Brown cheese, lingonberry jam, waffle, clotted cream! Just had that at Nordkapp, with great Norwegian coffee. Yum!!!
We’re from Australia, and had never heard of this. An absolute delight.
😋. This is how it was first served to me, and despite my hesitation, I loved it!
It really is great with rasberry jam on it. The French version which is all I buy anymore. On top of a Nabisco Wheat Thin. Not sure if it is as good with a slice of apple but will add jam to the cheese next time I get the apple out. Probably tomorrow as had one today. It is like eating a charmel apple and that…………………is why I have grown to love this cheeze. My Brother lives in Norway and brought some over and I was hooked. Hard to find in Miami but I ordered a 3lb brick and freeze some. Hands down the best cheese ever but I really am glad some think it is terrible. Imagine how hard it would be to find it, let alone afford it, if everyone loved it. The Ski Queen Gjetost is my current version but I am not picky.
Also, fun fact, Julebrunost is actually made in England, since Norwegian dairies don’t have the capacity to produce the amount required themselves.
Didn’t like mysost when I had it. Couldn’t stop thinking about Caramac bars.
Correct answer. Caramac cheese is what it is.
åhhh, I love it!
Maybe I am wrong, but it seems what in Brazil it’s called “Doce de leite”, made with milk and sugar until the second one becomes caramelized enough to turn the white milk into a brown thing, that can be either solid or creamy.
Some people made ice cream with that, others eat it with mozzarella cheese and others simply spread it on bread.
It tastes good (I am not a big fan but its taste is not something awkward), almost like a caramel.
When in Norway in a couple of weeks I will find out if it really tastes like that.
Ha det bra!
I’m used to goat milk candy from Mexico, but I guess the process must be somewhat different, While having a familiar taste, both products, Latin American milk candy, and brunøst, seem to have flavor and roles of their own.
Yep! Exactly how I define it a doce de leite or dulce de leche salty and with slightly difference in texture…
😉 lived the pankakes (I guess potato pankakes) with butter cream sugar cinnamon and Brunost, which have another very long name…
Really? No, come on, it’s *completely different* =) Dulce de leche (at least the one I’ve tasted in Argentina and Chile) is quite the same as “вареная сгущенка” / “boiled condensed milk” in Russia. It’s liquid, you eat it with a spoon and it’s super sweet. Nothing, nothing, completely nothing common with whatever cheese.
Brunost in Norway is a cheese. Though tastes like a weird cheese (I LOVE the taste though), but you can still feel that it’s a cheese. It’s hard, you cut it, you have slices. Maybe, maybe there is some minor note of sweet caramel taste, but that’s it, nothing common with Dulce de leche.
Great blog David, I really enjoy reading it! But what did Ståle think of Marmite? 🙂
Brown cheese is evil. That is all to be said on it.
However, a pølse in a waffle with strawberry jam on is devine!!
When we were still living in the UK some Norwegian friends came over for our Wedding, they brought a Kransekake and a block of brown cheese. We had a cheese and biscuit buffet in the evening reception and the brown cheese was cut into pieces and served with the rest of the cheeses. A lot of our guests thought at first that it was fudge and happily ate a piece believing that to be the case – well you can imagine their reaction at the taste!! Not good!!
I don’t really mind brown cheese but I think you have to be in the mood for it – and know what you are eating lol!
Marmite on the other hand is something I make sure I stock up on whenever we are back in the UK!
i love brown cheese, i brought it to my country after visited Norway!! nam..nam..
I love brown cheese! I eat it every day, for breakfast, lunch and supper! I almost never eat anything else, now that I think about it. Probably isn’t healthy, but who cares?
Is it possible to know where to buy this delicious brown cheese ….in Switzerland?
Thanks a lot in advance. Lidia & Hector
Probably best to ask someone in Switzerland 🙂
whole foods, or the village cheese shoppe
Interesting article. You make brown cheese sound delish! But I think when people hear the word cheese, their brains kind of scramble on anything that doesn’t fit the bill. Oh, and I’ve tried vegemite (marmite the same thing?) although it has been more than a few years. Too me, it was like spreading salty mashed bouillon cubes on bread – horrid! I imagine that the taste has to be acquired, and I wonder if the climate in Australia has anything to do with its consumption. I’ve noticed that when I’m home in Hawaii, I eat and crave food differently then when I’m on the mainland, US.
As an Aussie, I see so many people trying Vegemite for the first time and hating it. It needs to be used sparingly, just a very thin spread. As for brown cheeses, we went on the Hurtigruten cruise that goes right up the length of the Norwegian coast. Every meal had brown cheese for those that wanted it. Like Vegemite, I found just a thin slice really delicious. I think it would be very sickly if eaten as a slab.
So please enlighten me, my grandmother was from Kristiansund and obsessed with Gjetost, what’s the difference? My mom alternatively also loved Hard Tack…any thoughts? (Me, I was the third generation fattigmann cookie maker, Krumkager, Yulekake, and Leftse…no Lutefiske here though).
Gjetost, or the more modern spelling:Geitost, is originally a term used for the ‘proper’goat’s milk’s cheese made w only goat’s milk. It has a much stronger and distinct favour than the other brown cheeses, which are made with both cows milk and goat’s milk(the most popular version is called Gudbrandsdalost or G35) or even w only cows milk (Mysost=whey cheese,which is sweeter than the varieties w goat’s milk.)All these cheeses are called brown cheese (brunost) or geitost/gjetost, but usually people just mean the G35/Gudbrandsdalsost .
have you guys tried fløtemysost or brunost on toasted bread or non-toasted bread with earl grey tea?
i highly recommend trying it!
I am a Norwegian who enjoy reading foreigners blogging about Norway, makes me see my own country and culture in a new light (and makes me stop and think about things that have always just seemed natural to me). I will be moving to Dublin in the fall as an exchange student and I am expecting a bit of a cultural shock myself, but I do love the pub culture in Britain and Ireland, in addition to the good old drinking binges of my home country (helgefylla is a way of life), so I suppose I will do just fine. As long as I try to avoid politics, views that are completely normal in Norway seem controversial or shocking to a lot of people living in other places. Even small things, such as the tip often being collected by the restaurant and then distributed equally amongst the staff (waiters, chefs etc.) seems so shock and provoke a few people. Cultural differences are always weird!
One thing I never wrap my head around, though, is why people DON’T like brunost. I’ve had several international guests and very few of them liked it. A couple of them liked it a lot and wanted to bring it home with them, but many people just didn’t like it. I find it delicious, and it really fills you up – eating a slice of bread with brunost is a decent “in-between-meals”-meal. It feels great to eat, especially during winter for some reason, and you can enjoy it in itself – I sometimes slice off slices just to eat as “snack” when I have a craving for something sweet but doesn’t want to eat candy.
I grew up in a small Norwegian community (Lake Telemark) in northern New Jersey. I discovered your comment after searching for brunost articles. Having consumed that delicious brown ‘cheese’ almost daily for the first 25 years of my life I have of late (40 years later) been craving it. I enjoyed your comments and best of luck in Dublin. Be careful with your helgefylla sessions – lost a lot of friends to that.
My mother was from 100% Norwegian stock. When I was a kid my dad brought home what I was told was “Norwegian goat cheese.” I loved it but never had it again till as an adult I found gjetost. I love it and often buy it as a treat.
Being spanish and travelling all over Europe weekly as Export Area Manager for a swedish-american-spanish tool manufacturer, I have to say that the place I enjoyed my hotel breakfast the most was at Norway. There, there were blocks of brunost and simply couldn’t stop of eating slides and slides of that tangy special cheese. It has something addictive and still I am ordering online. One spanish fan here.
Not to worry! The Irish are shipwrecked Norwegians
Just returned from a 2 week holiday in Norway (I live in British Columbia – the west coast of Canada). Brown cheese was offered on all breakfast buffets and so I tried it – and loved it!!! I ate it every day. Now I am searching here for a place to buy it.
Thrifties has it, at least everywhere in victoria they do.
Wendy I lived in Norway for 9 years, married to a Norwegian for 39 years. You can buy Ski Queen at The Real Canadian Superstore. In North Vancouver you can buy plenty of of Scandinavian food at Jolly Foods.
I remember this in super value in Nelson 30 years ago. I tried desperately to like it. 🤢. I’m going to make it to see if it’s better home made.
Hi, about 2 years ago we had a very lovely young lady from Trondheim come stay with us and she brought over some brown cheese for us to try…. I love it!! I’m lucky she keeps sending blocks of brown cheese over to me in New Zealand…. which I’m eating at the moment yummy !!! Would love to see if some goat farmer here in NZ could made it. off to enjoy a other slice of yummy brown cheese!! 🙂
Hi Brenda, lovely story! I’m still not keen on it myself, just one of those things 🙂
Friend from work brought some “brown goat’s cheese” back from a trip and laid it on the SHARE counter. I like cheese so I figured what the heck….cut off a smallish slice (just in case) and tossed it into my mouth. Started making all these EEEUUUUUU faces, but the longer I let it melt on my tongue the better I liked it and actually had another small slice just to be sure I wasn’t crazy. It’s very strong tasting and salty, but strangely addicting. I can easily see it on bread with a fruit jam for the sweet to offset the salty.
Tried it in July ’15 on a trip to Norway. Absolutely loved it at first bite. Hard to find here in the US but a friend gifted us some and we usually have it at Happy Hour paired with a nice Bourbon. The caramel flavor of the cheese pairs very nicely with the Bourbon.
Many years ago my Dad would bring home a small block of a brown cheese, which I thought he called Premost. It was creamed with fresh cream and delicious on toast. Long after he was gone, I tried to find it in grocery stores but they had never heard of “premost”. I found a recipe un an old Norwegian cookbook that simmers a quart of buttermilk and adds a fourth cup of brown sugar. Does anyone know if I am remembering the name wrong? I really enjoyed this brown cheese when I was a little girl.
I adore brunost and eat it when I visit with my family in Norway. However, I an unable to digest cow products so they always get me the pure traditional goats cheese. They’re in northern Norway and its readily available. They always laugh at me because I have it with my aunts strawberry jam and smoked salmon on bread. It is my bizarre little concoction but don’t mock it till you’ve tried it! I am obsessed with it.
Unfortunately in Australia the only brown cheese I can get is Ski Queen brand gjetost and it’s cut with cows milk so I can’t have it.
If anyone reads this and knows SOMEWHERE that you can get pure goats milk brunost please let me know! And yes I’ve tried David Jones food hall / The Cheese Shop in Mosman (Sydney, NSW) and online. So annoyed!!!
The name was probably “Primost”, which is very similar to brown cheese (“brunost”). If you ever try tasting the kind of cheese described in this blog it will probably seem very familiar.
My grandfather, who came from Sweden, always gave us Primost, and we loved it. I did not have any for all of my adult life until this summer when I went to Sweden and Norway. It was wonderful. I brought back a block of Fløtemysost for my mother and myself (wish I had brought more), and am now trying to find it here in Minnesota. I have only found the Ski Queen. Anybody have a suggestion?
My grandmother always put primost on lefse and I loved it! As an adult I had tried to find it and have not been able to, I wonder if what I remember was similar to your memory.
My Norwegian Dad brought Premost into our South Dakota home back in the 50’s. However, I remember it as soft and spreadable with an outer crust. My sister says she remembers it as crumbly.
After moving to Illinois in 1959 we never had it again. My mom also stopped making lefse because she no longer had the old wood burning cooking range that she says was perfect for lefse. We still had Lutefisk for Christmas Eve until my Dad passed away. I am now the only family member that likes it.
What a fantastic memory you have stirred. My mouth is watering just thinking of it. I first had it in 1955 when I went on a hitchhiking holiday with my Norwegian friend. I always ate it at breakfast on very dark brown bread. I loved it. Sadly my friend is dead now otherwise I’d get her to send me some.
It’s awesome. I love the stuff. I agree with you on the weird color. I don’t mind now, but the first time I ate brunost I thought it tasted great, but I was put off by the consistency and the color. Now, I can’t stop eating it.
I love it. I first had it in 1990 when my Norwegian flatmate at Uni brought some back after Christmas. I loved it. I couldn’t believe it when I spotted some on Amazon a few weeks ago, and so, 26 yrs after my first taste, I had my second. Totally delicious.
We loved the brown cheese when we visited Norway and brought a couple of blocks back with us. One of them has this on the label: Fløtemysost – A lighter brown cheese made from cow’s milk, with a mild and sweet taste of caramel.
Great article, good humor. I just blogged about my trip to Norway and mentioned the brown cheese. I linked to your article since it was so great. It was not only the color that is a challenge, but the plastic quality. It reminded me of the “play” cheese comes with kid’s kitchens along with the other plastic food. I liked it when I tried it though! Here is the post with the link to your article, https://myviewfromabroad.com/2016/10/23/a-perfect-saturday-in-oslo-flea-market-and-sculpture-park/
We had brown cheese this week on a breakfast buffet at EPCOT in Orlando, Florida. Three of the 4 adults loved it at first bite. The 4th adult wasn’t crazy about it, and the two children wouldn’t try it.
I can’t wait to find more!
I’ve been eating gjetost since I was a child. Love it. My dad explained most goat cheese in America is part cows milk. He said pure was called ekte. Went to Norway in 1997 and was surprised to find several kinds. All great. Another nice find was tutteberry. I always have a block or three of gjetost in my fridge.
Love it. Not hard to find in stores here on the East Coast (DC area) maybe it is the international flavor of this area. Have eaten it all of my life but my kids always called it caramel cheese and would eat the whole block after school if I didn’t hide it. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin with Norwegian Grandparents nearby.
Yes my lovely norwegian grandmother had lively food around. My favs were Christmas soup and leftsa. I shall try the brown cheese that my island store stocks so very much of.
I spent the last few years visiting Kristiansand and Oslo and immediately fell in love with Brunost. Mmmm Brown Cheese. I brought some home with me and told my family that it is carmelicious and has the consistancy almost of a milk chololate or Sjokolade 🙂 (by the way, Norwegian milk chocolate is AMAZING!) I had a coworker come to Houston frequently and on one trip she brought both Gjetost and Myost for me. I love them both, the Myost is a bit lighter but to me not any better. I think the Gjetost has a larger flavor profile. My family also loves it, I did purchase the proper Cheese cutter. I used to eat this on toast with the yolk insides of a soft boiled egg spread on top….MMMM. Noone looked at me wierd and noone was there to teach me how to eat it so… I miss Norway.
Oh yeah!! I love this stuff, so much in fact, I got addicted to it when I had 2 months just outside Oslo. It reminded me of Caramac bars. For the ultimate sickly, non healthy snack…take a slice of the “cheese” spread some chocolate spread on it and roll it into a tube and consume…yum! Loved your article! Fabulous. Jackie
I love Norwegian brown cheese! I’ve eaten half of what I brought home when visiting Norway, and have enjoyed it each day. It will be a sad day when it is gone.
Usually I have it with some gluten-free flatbread. The most adventurous I’ve gotten with it is to use it in an omelette. It was delicious!
So is brown cheese gluten-free?
I can’t imagine anyone saying gjetost has a caramel flavor. It most certainly does not. Not even a trace. It has a very strong, gammy taste and a fairly strong rancid smell. I found it impossible to eat. But I can imagine becoming use to it over time. It is certainly an acquired taste, not easily acquired by most people. I can imagine it would have some benefits, perhaps even some important ones. A lot of smelly stuff like this is especially good for increasing beneficial gut bacteria.
Are you sure you dont have it confused with Limburger?
Are you sure you weren’t eating
I recently found ekte geitost cheese in a gourmet health store in New Jersey/USA. The label was in Norwegian with an English label pasted on the back that listed the ingredients as pure goat whey, goat cream, and goatmilk. I was sold, even at $15/lb for the little blue wrapped block. Sold because lately I have been unable to consume cow-milk products and had heard that goat milk products are easier to digest and worth trying. WOW! Loved it and will buy it again, mostly for the pure and simple ingredients, but I also like the taste. Unless the label lied it did not list salt as an ingredient although the taste is extremely salty and Norway is famous for a history of salt-preserved meats and fish.
I’m from the USA and I love this cheese/not cheese! The first time I tasted it I wasn’t sure, but it definitely grows on you. I eat it without Jam or waffles or anything for that matter. So, is it a cheese or not? The writer states “The water from the whey of goat’s milk ” is what makes this. Other articles I’ve read say it’s made with Cows milk. A bit confusing. Whatever it is, it’s great! I’d like to know which brand is the best, then I can look for it in the specialty stores.
Love this treat wish you could get it in Oz
I love lutefisk, but could never acclimate to the taste of gjetost, even after 2 years!
I grew up on a farm NW of Ponoka, AB. Canada. My mother from Skabu area of Gudbrandsdalen emigrated to Alberta Canada at age 29. She worked as a homemaker helping hand to my Dad’s Norwegian parents. So on this rural Ponoka farm I grew up with the best of Norwegian cooking & baking. Mother brought along all her homemaking & Norwegian cooking gift to Canada. She made Gudbrandsdalen gjetost, homemade butter, and knew how to prepare Lutefisk for our annual Christmas eve supper. She baked bread with milled grain on the farm and there was nothing better than homemade butter, Gjetost & this fresh baked bread & her homemade ‘Flatbrod’. Takk fra Sylvia
I love it, have been eating it since I was a kid but my husband doesn’t care for it. Like you say either you love it or hate it 😊
All I can say is that I am a true convert to that soft caramelized thing they call cheese. Took some convincing to get my family to try it but I made converts of my wife and two daughters. Yuuuuummmmmmy!!!
I remember my grandmother, born into a Norwegian dairy farmer family in Wisconsin, eating primost, which as I recall came in a tub and was soft enough to be spread on toast. It was nicknamed by some “Norwegian peanut butter”. I never liked it as a child, but now always have a block of Tine ekte geitost in my fridge. Christmastime was wonderful, with my Norwegian grandmothers baking all the delicious pastries, flatbrød, and lefse. We always had lutefisk for Christmas dinner. You can still get excellent lefse from a bakery in Blair, Wisconsin https://www.lefse.com
Now I live in England and get my Norwegian provisions from Scandi Kitchen in London.
I can get it at Scandinavian Specialties in my neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle. I actually prefer the Ekte which is all goat but recently it’s been hard to find or the chunk is too big for me. Plus it costs about 18 dollars! For a while, the Ekte was available in the same small size as the Ski Queen for about 9 dollars. The Ski Queen, made by the same people, gets me by.
We’ve just come back from Norway, the proud owners of two blocks of brown cheese. Yippee! I used to be able to buy this from my local Sainsbury when we lived in London but haven’t seen it anywhere in the UK for years and years and years. I just love the stuff and am so pleased to find that I can order it off the internet, so no more brown cheese famine for me! It reminds me of a cross between dulce de leche and peanut butter and is gorgeous 🙂
Although I am of Norwegian heritage I’ve never had brown cheese before. I’ve finally had a chance to try it in the village of Undredal, Norway. Delicious!! I loved it – especially on a small, crisp cracker, a dab of sour cream and a bit of lingonberries or cloud berries. SO YUMMY!! My mother said the taste reminded her of Eagle brank condensed milk with a fudge consistency. I also tried it fresh from a farm while they were making it – still warm. It was wonderful!
While driving through Norway to a family reunion there with my sister who now lives near Oslo I commented that every household we passed would have brunost. It probably the equivalent of every USA house having peanut butter We grew up eating what we called geitost but was probably brunost. I always bring some home after visiting Norway.
I visited Norway two weeks ago, and on the Oslo-Bergen train I purchased a waffle. I was asked if I wanted brown cheese on it or strawberry jam, and O replied, “Both.” It was amazingly delicious!
I just received a parcel of cheese today from
A mate on Denmark. He’s a Brit like me and we both love cheese. However I live I. Saigon – well near saigon – er well about 12 km southeast and no bus service. Anyway I can get processed cheddar from a supermarket (horrible). And I can get some French and Italian cheeses from delicatessens in Saigon it the prices are astronomical.
So my mate sent me s parcel of cheese from Denmark. It took two weeks to get here. It was so rank when it arrived here customs wanted to destroy it as biohazard material.
In with the cheese was what I thought was a block of chocolate. Turns out it is Norgie cheese. It’s actusly very nice on rye bread.
Then there was a pack of Camembert, which was as hard as Parmesan and smelled like the dicks I once wore for theee weeks on a NATO excercise in Germany. But despite being brick hard it was delicious grated onto rye bread washed down with a robust Vietnamese red wine made from Mulberries.,
In the package was a square of something that resembled old WW1 plastic explosive that was sweating profusely. It stank so bad that my Vietnamese wife, who thinks nothing of dipping allegedly edible things into a highly corrosive mixture of nuoc mam fish sauce and chillies, ran outside shouting “hoi wah” (stinky)..
I don’t know what it is and it does have a downwind stench of snot 59 metres, but spread on rye bread with raw onlion it is sublime, washed down with a drop of the aforesaid red plonk.
I must ask my mate in Denmark what that last cheese is called – incidentally the paper it was wrapped was disintegrating by the time it got here.
Norway chocolate cheese gets my vote though – it’s the dogs gonads !
First had Gjetost at Akerhaus restaurant at Epcot (Norway). Really liked the sweet caramel flavor. Have found it locally at Wegman’s. It is Ski Queen $12/lb. Need to try it with some breakfast things to see what I like best.
My partner and I love brunost! My favorite way of eating it is on apple slices. It brings out the luscious salty flavor of the brunost.
We just had this with braunschweiger on crostini slices, just to try because of You Tube and matpakke.
I must say I was very surprised and now want to try slices on an apple coffee cake.
It’s… a different taste disorder. I hate goat cheese but the sweet and the mild tang pair well.
Either that or my Viking DNA took over the tastebuds momentarily.
It’s going to be a treat thing in this house.
Damn. You made me hungry, and I just bought a fresh new block.
It’s delicious. Caramel-ly and sweet. I do have friends who just can’t understand why I like it, though.
I am so sad to tell you that we cannot find Ski queen here inToronto any more. The say it has been discontinued.Very very sad… Help..
Gjetost 24/7 no ifs ands or buts!
I had my first (and last) taste of this foul concoction 3 weeks ago, on a boat that was just pulling out of Longyearbyen harbour for the 4-day crossing to Jan Mayen. A couple of hours later my head was in a bucket – admittedly not the fault of the cheese, but it is now forever associated in my mind with seasickness, and even just looking at the pictures in this article makes me feel queasy. I’m a confirmed cheesehead and love almost all cheeses, the weirder and stinkier the better, but sadly this stuff must join the Sardinian Casu Marzu as one of the very few exceptions.
I had the same initial reaction as you upon first trying brown cheese. Then I tasted it again with no preconceived notions as to how it should taste. It was then that I developed an appreciation for its unique flavor and creamy texture and I became hooked! I’ve had it alone and also with a sugared butter pancake which was divine. I’m a true fan!
I made my first trip to Norway last October at age 64. My cousins in Trondheim had a picnic for me at the ship-builders museum in Stadsbygd, where I tried my first brown cheese. Helle looked a little nervous when I bit into it and was very surprised when I liked it!
We don’t have brown cheese here, because most whey is used to make whey butter. I think I’ll try to make my own version of brunost using liquid whey, rennet and patience. Might be a hit in Québec, LOL.
I was initially surprised by the volume of posts on this article….then noticed some back as far as 2012, so it’s been around a wee while. Some interesting, amusing, and downright bizarre experiences with this fantastic nordic delicacy ;0)
With only a weekend’s prior experience (a supply vessel naming ceremony in Haugesund), I jumped at the offer of a company transfer in 1991, from Aberdeen, to work in Stavanger & Kristiansund, as a Norwegian resident for 4 years. I joined DNT, STF & KNT, so many weekends & weeks were spent in the mountains with Norsk friends, all year round, who introduced me to all sorts of culinary experiences…Lutefisk & Sheeps Head are best left out of this, though 🤮 …those are my nordic ‘marmites’.
I’ve been fortunate to have spent around a third of my working life there, though now limited to holidays, since retirement. I was ‘fully Norwegianised’, as the wife of my Geordie boss once said….it was mild sarcasm, but to me a compliment, as it was my aim, in moving there, to ‘blend in’ & become fluent. I’ve since found I have 10% nordic genes, so that’s another plus factor.
Klippfisk (for the Ksu-style baccalao) and Tine Ekte Geitost (blue pack) have since then been almost ever-present in my freezer & fridge…and I even bring back packs of Vaffelmix & jars of Nora ‘naturlig lett’ Rasp jam, for the periodic nordic meals with my student daughter, when the Vaffeljern is brought out. Kranseksnadder & Skillingsboller (cinnamon) are essentials on any visits to Norge, though impossible to import…best eaten newly baked. 😋
But, the Geitost….I’ve tried geitost on just about every type of Norwegian bread/crispbread, and with all sorts of ‘additives’ (romme & gherkin/capers are 👍)….but on a nordic waffle, either just a touch of sour cream (romme doesn’t travel well..!), or sour cream + a wee bit of sugar-free jam. 😋 My first thought in 1991 was of vague memories of the taste (but not consistency) of caramac ‘chocolate’, as a few above have also commented, but I guess you need to have been around in the 60’s/70’s to recall that?
My former local Deli, in Aberdeenshire, started selling the red-label (cow+goat?) variety, but as it arrived in a huge block, had been cutting it with a cheese wire & selling it to be eaten like a cheddar….a cheese slice is no longer a common UK implement (a consequence of pre-packed sliced cheese?)….but updated advice was passed on to customers & 5 years on, they still sell it. I never met any of those customers to ask how they ate it, and if they liked it.
I absolutely love it and to find a large drum of it was available to buy made my holiday. Yum yum. Used to be sent it regularly when I was a child and had forgotten how delicious it tastes. A bit like condensed milk but even better for you and tastier.
I love gjetost but it has to be ekte (pure) gjetost. Everyone in the US that I have introduced it to has liked it.
It is my secret ingredient (no longer secret) in brown gravies. It gives them a richness to put a couple of slices of gjetost into them. Make sure the cheese melts in before serving.
It is especially important to add gjetost and a few crushed juniper berries to gravy that you are serving with game – moose, venison, elk, etc.
I just found this post 8 years after publication when googling (now a Verb) “the difference between Gjetost and Brunost”
I grew up in Canada with Norwegian Grandparents who immigrated from Bergen and Trondheim. We ate Gjetost on my Mormor’s Bread -similar to Limpa- every day for Breakfast. They would bring back “real” Gjetost when visiting Norway every couple of years.
We cannot get Gjetost in Boston where I live now but can buy SkiQueen Brunost. To me 35 years later, it tastes like Gjetost! I made my Mormor Bread yesterday so of course had my husband stop at Whole Foods to get a block of Gjetost !
I AM NOW EATING THE MOST DELICIOUS MEMORY!!!!
On a Norwegian FB Page I was corrected in my spelling of Gjetost. It was always spelt like that when growing up but apparently I was shamed into knowing it’s Geitost.
My Grandmother also used it in Gravies like the previous post. Nothing better than Bread, Butter and Brunost/Gjetost/Geitost for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.
You missed one of the best ways to serve and eat Gjetost/Brown Cheese. Slice fresh pears or apples to serve with it. Have you ever used it for a topping for a cake? If you wish the recipe, please let me know. I have been giving groups a tour of my shop and we conclude by tasting some of the foods. The brown cheese is tried by all and enjoyed by most.
Marmite – disgusting.
Brunost – tasty.
We just had it in Tromsø, on the top of the cable car, and I loved it though my husband didn’t. He is British and I am from Spain, not sure if that makes any difference haha. I also like Mamite! Anyway, that meant I got to eat it all! Thanks for this article, it helped me learn a bit about brown cheese, always nice to know what you’re eating!
My fondest memory of Brunost is with Klubb. The Brunost was melted with sweet condensed milk then poured over the klubb. Wonderful!
Klubb – a traditional Norwegian potato/flour dumpling.
I live in central Minnesota. Is there a place to buy or order it. I have not had if for years since my mother made it always for my Christmas present. Helps. Email me please. [email protected]. Thanks
Born in London, the first foreign country I ever went to was Norway as a 11 year old to the Skaugum’89 Scout Jamboree and Home Hospitality on the lovely island of Stromøy near Arendal.
Along with a weird tuna/herring and tomato concoction in a tin (which us immature cheeky so and so’s called “plane crash”), the brown caramel cheese was the other culinary memory. I found it again after 25 years in the British supermarket Waitrose (TINE variety), and now it is always part of our Christmas Cheese board!
I find that if someone likes the crispy bits of cheese left behind on a griddle they tend to like this cheese. It’s creamy, instead of crunchy, and not really salty, but a similar flavor. I love it.
Hello when l was İn Oslo during 1995 October.l tasted it breakfast time at hotel city.l liked it.Taste of it diferent from our country cheese İn Türkiye.After many years l never forget its tastes.When l return from Oslo during that time l bought one block as a present of my family İn İstanbul. They liked it.After two months my Friends from Bergen (ALF Veiby) and öne friend from Lillehamer visited olur family İn İstanbul for a İnnovation week gave US a big Salmon fish and a brown cheese cutter.We newer forget.Best regards for your country new years.
We were traveling in Norway and it was served during smorgasbord at a hostel, I nearly threw up when I tasted it, had to spit it out quickly and eat something else to take away the taste, never tempted to eat anymore. I have a swedish friend who spent a year as a nanny in Canada disgustedly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the children. We tease as to which is worse, peanutbutter or brown cheese,lol. She loves marmite, it’s too salty for me but much better than brown cheese any day,lol.
I live in Alaska and just discovered ski queen in my local supermarket.
I am in love!! I have always loved homemade dulce de leche and basically
any food with the mallard reaction so what’s not to love about brown cheese?!! We are planning our trip to Norway (only thrice pushed back due to pandemic) and I had planned on first tasting it there on our trip but I couldn’t believe my luck! I just enjoy shaving tiny amounts as a snack and eating it by itself. I have had it with crackers and biscuits and on toast. Want to try it with coffee or tea and on a waffle or with apple. Ah the adventures await!
I think if you tell an American it resembles squeeze cheese they might not be so shocked by the flavor. It definitely has a deep cheddary taste. I am not saying they will love it but the point is we need more converts so that we can have this at more get togethers here in the states. Normalize the eating of brown cheese please! 😀
PS yes i like marmite and vegemite is ok i just prefer marmite’s texture better
Love all the comments! Has anyone frozen brunøst? Does it crumble? I usually have Gudbrandals variety and am the only one on my family who likes it but I want to keep it longer so want to freeze it. How does that affect it? Takk!
I shared a house in the Houston area 25 yrs ago w several friends. One was Norwegian. His mother traveled back to visit family twice a year and always brought Gjetost back for us. I loved it the first time I tried it! We would shave it thin and serve on home-baked toasted bread w berry jam and soft boiled eggs and homemade yogurt and strong hot tea. I always looked forward to those times, friends around the table sharing a meal together.
I found ski queen a few years ago in a specialty shop in Houston and bought it. Now I live in a rural area in North Texas and as you can imagine there’s no demand for it here!
Sure would like to have a block! To me it has a cheesy/fudgey character.
Delighted to read all these posts. Good times
I lived in Norway when I was 9 and 10 years old (it was a loooooong time ago) and again when I was 20 (also a looong time ago).
Context: My Dad was career USMC. “We” (the family) got orders to Norway in the Summer of 1958 – Dad was to be a military attache at the embassy. Rather than stay in the “Little America” island of military-provided schools and housing, my parents chose to live ‘on the economy’ (i.e. in Norwegian community, with us kids attending Norwegian schools). It was an exciting, wonderful time. Became fluent in the language and the culture.
Gjetost was a big part of it. ‘gjetost på knekkebrød’ – nordic goat cheese (brunost) on crispBread. It was a part of the state-sponsored school breakfast: a platter of brun/brown goat cheese and hvit/white (edam or jarlsberg) cheese on crisp bread, tall glass of milk, a carrot, an apple. Very simple. Pretty darned healthy…
The flavor descriptions here are pretty good. In our family we called it ‘Norwegian peanut butter’ (ubiquity and taste)
I just discovered this “cheese” recently, under the brand name “Ski Queen.” I absolutely love it. 🥰 I plan on making it a regular staple on my grocery list. A little goes a long way, flavorwise.
I do love caramel, but I’m not really sure what a savory caramel would taste like. It’s intriguing, I am definitely down to trying this at least once.
First introduction: the on-board shop on the ferry between Denmark and Norway. Now bought regularly (as Ski Queen) in my local Harris Farm food shop in my suburb of Sydney, Australia. Love it – not every day, but regularly.
We bought some gjetost out of interest. I tried some and wasn’t convinced. Comments on this blog convinced me to try it on an oatcake with jam. Oh. My God. Gjetost where have you been all my life?
Was introduced to brunost just a month back. My brother in-law brought some back from Norway, saying cheese there was unlike any that we have here in the Philippines (mostly cheddar) and that they tasted funky, so it stayed in our fridge for a good 8 weeks until I got curious when I saw that it was brown, so carved a slither and tasted it. And Wala it tasted great. Been having a slice every day and oh no my block is almost gone. I love the way it melted in my mouth. That led me to your article and yep salty caramelly cheese for me. Yum.
Always best to taste brunøst, with blueberry or raspberry jam or in lefse (sweet bread) which is like a flat bread/doughy wrap, with cinnamon, smør and sugar. To eat brunøst just on its own, is for die hard fans, like me. I am half Norwegian and was raised on the stuff, my kids aren’t fans but they do like and prefer the Fløtemysost, to Gudbrandsdalsost.
Either way…just embrace it!