Sweden’s First Presidium Cheese Introduced Today at Cheese 2007
21 Sep 07
The first Swedish cheese to become a Slow Food Presidium was presented today at Cheese 2007, Slow Food’s biannual, four-day cheese event, held in the town of Bra in Piedmont.
Cellar-matured goat’s milk cheese from the regions of Jämtland and Härjedalen in north-central Sweden joins the other Swedish Presidium, Reindeer Suovas, a smoked cured meat.
The cheese was introduced by Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, who announced its “baptism” as a Presidium.
Presidia, he explained, are projects which work to protect and promote a single food (or drink), made by a group of producers who agree to follow a set of rules regarding production methods. They also agree to participate in Slow Food events, like Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto and, of course, Cheese. “There is no brochure, no television program, no film that can match the value of having the producer there to meet with people and talk to them directly about his or her product,” he said.
Anna Berglund, of Eldrimner, the Swedish education center for small-scale artisanal food producers and a supporter of the Presidium, talked about the struggles they have had in Sweden to convince both producers and government authorities that raw milk is not dangerous. It is a prerequisite for Presidium cheeses to be made with raw milk.
Next to speak was cheesemaker Gert Andersson. Originally from Stockholm, he lived in Paris and New York before returning to his family home in Jämtland. “I was planning to stay one or two years but now it’s been 28. And I’ll need another 28 years to understand what I’m doing. Producers don’t produce products, only the circumstances which make the products,” he said. He then described the three crucial and almost magical transformations necessary to make cheese: from sunlight to plants, from plants to milk and finally the lactic fermentation which turns the milk into cheese.
Another producer, Inger Jonsson, sang a sample of the traditional chant to call the goats in from pasture. She presented three different cellar-aged goat’s cheeses made by three different farms for a comparative tasting. “Each one is similar, but different,” she explained, “because the milk and the microbiologies of the caves vary from farm to farm, and we each use our own family recipes passed down from our grandparents and great-grandparents.”
The cheese is made primarily with milk from the Svensk Lantrasget native goat breed, and pressed into rectangular wooden cheese moulds. It is aged in stone-lined earthern cellars, and each cheese has a unique flowering of brightly colored mold on its crust. The flavor is intense, with the characteristic funkiness of aged goat’s cheeses, underpinned by echoes of the earthy, musty cellars in which the cheeses are aged.