The snippet of insight into the eating habits of the early eighteenth century Laplander in yesterday’s post intrigued several of you, so I thought to add a little more today. The author of our source, the famous botanist Carl Linné, wrote of his experiences during his tour in Lapland in 1732. The following extract seems to refer specifically to the region of Västerbotten, which I understand is not technically ‘Lapland’, but does border that province. Many of the products are mentioned at several places in his journal.
The use of milk among the inhabitants of Westbothnia is very great; and the following are the various forms in which it serves them for food:
1. Fresh, of which a great deal is taken in the course of the day.
2. Fresh boiled.
3. Fresh boiled, and coagulated with beer, which is called ölost.
4. Sour milk, deprived of its cream, and capable of being cut.
5, Sour milk eaten with its cream.
6. Butter, made, as usual, of cream shaken till its oily part separates and floats.
7- Butter-milk, what remains after the butter is made.
8. Cheese, made of fresh milk heated, coagulated with calves' rennet, then deprived of its whey and dried.
9. This whey being boiled, the scum which rises is repeatedly collected, and called walle.
10. The remaining whey is used instead of milk or water in making bread.
11. The same fluid kept for a long time till it becomes viscid, is preserved through the winter, and called syra.
12. The whey of cheese boiled to a thick consistence is denominated mesosmör, and with meal is added to the preceding.
Sweet Cheese, is made of fresh milk boiled till it is partly wasted, and the
remainder, of the thickness of pap or gruel, is eaten fresh.
14. Mjölost, Meal Cheese, is milk coagulated with rennet, mixed with meal, and boiled.
15. Tatmjölk, is fresh milk poured on leaves of Butterwort, Pinguecula, as already mentioned.
16. Servet milk. See Aug. 10.
17. Gös-mjölk. See Aug. 10.
18. Lapmjölk, is milk mixed with sorrel leaves, (R. Acetosa,) and preserved till winter in the stomach of a reindeer, or some other animal.
19. The milk of the reindeer is placed in a cellar to prevent its quickly turning sour, inorder to obtain the more cream; if it freezes, they thaw it again.
Later, in his journal entries written in East Bothnia, Linné describes how of some of these milk products are made.
In East Bothnia, as well as in Medelpad, it is customary to have the dairy superintended by a superior female servant, called the fäbodar, who receives for each cow one pound of butter and one of cheese, besides a pound of mesosmör.
To obtain a greater quantity of butter, the milk is set by, either in a cellar or in a double-walled house, to be kept as cold as possible, for at least two days, or- so long as that it will not stick to the finger. The milk will not turn sour, but will become very thin and blue, while the cream collects on the top, of considerable thickness and in great perfection. The cream being taken off, and put into the churn, often proves so rich, that after it has been churned but a short time, if the churn be laid on one side nothing will run out. It is no small labour to churn such cream.
Of the remaining milk cheese is made, being warmed before it is coagulated. If the milk has begun to turn sour, it will not do for this purpose. Such thin milk as this is not very fit for eating, but the whey which separates from it in the making of cheese, is by some people made into syra. This is done merely by putting it, when cool, into a vessel or cask, when, if set by for a considerable time, it will become extremely tough. Most usually however it is boiled, and then kept for two, or three days, when, some new milk being added, it is boiled up again to the consistence of flummery, and then set by in some kind of vessel. If it remains for a long while without being touched, it grows hard, and becomes mesosmör. The blue milk above mentioned may be boiled like fresh milk, and does not readily turn sour.
Gos-mjölk, or rather Gäs-mjölk, (from the Swedish verb gäsa, to work or ferment,) is made as follows. The butter-milk is set by in a tub till it begins to ferment, when about a third or fourth part of the quantity of fresh milk is added, the whole being allowed to work once more. A serum by this time is formed at the bottom, which is drawn off by means of a cock or tap, in the bottom of the tub, and used immediately for food. A similar portion of fresh milk is then put to the remainder, when more whey is, in due time, deposited. This practice is repeated from time to time for the space of a fortnight, at the end of which the milk in the tub becomes of a thick consistence, and is excellent eating.
Servet-mjölk (Napkin Milk) is made by taking a quantity of sour milk just beginning to ferment, when bubbles, like hydatids as it were, are formed between the cream and the milk. This is cut across in various directions, and the thicker substance taken off and hung up in a napkin, that the liquid part may drain away. What remains in the napkin acquires a firm consistence, and is eaten along with fresh sweet cream.
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