Monday, February 11, 2008

Viili with strawberry jam

Literally, but with the help of some nearly 100 year old Finnish milk culture. Viili is like yogurt in that the culture has friendly bacteria doing some work in converting the milk, but viili also has a mold and yeasts working in tandem with the bacteria to make this unique product.

Viili culture

I received my starter culture in the mail from Gem Cultures last week, and was eager to try what sounded like a simple procedure. And in fact, it was quite simple! After freshening it up and letting it renew itself when I received it, I was quite ready this weekend to test this interesting culture in the real world of my kitchen. All I had to do was swipe a couple teaspoons of this around in a clean bowl, around the bottom and up the edges, and pour in - directly from the refrigerator - one cup of fresh whole milk. Then all that was necessary was to cover it loosely to keep any stray matter out, put it in a place where it would be undisturbed, and let it sit for about 24-30 hours until it had thickened, then refrigerate. Yes, it was that simple. At 65-75F the culture will be ready in that time frame, and it can tolerate up to 80F but will have to be watched carefully at that temperature as it may be ready in as little as 12 hours.

Fresh Viili

In my kitchen, it was ready in less than 24 hours -- I put it out about 3 p.m., and it was ready at 8 a.m. the next morning. The consistency is like a soft jelly, and it likes to hold together and makes rope-like strings from your spoon when you are ladling it out. I put a couple tablespoons away in a small jar for my next batch, and then mixed in a tablespoon of strawberry jam to sweeten and flavor it (see the leading photo). In Finland, viili is eaten at breakfast and afternoon break time with pastries and coffee.

Strawberry flavored Viili over fruit

Dad and I tried it for breakfast, over some fresh fruit I picked up at a fruit stand on the road from Delano, CA last week, some very ripe and juicy pineapple and those incredibly sweet Ecuadorian mini-bananas. I also made an extra bowl (assuming it would be good!) to bring over for dinner at my friends' home Sunday night. That version consisted of viili with rose petal jam which was spooned over fresh strawberries and blackberries. Do I hear a chorus of YUM?!


Hanna Takala said...

Was it better than bought?

Anna Haight said...

Yes! Especially since I've never found this type anywhere in the US. It's a long way to Finland!

Anonymous said...

With pastries and coffee? I don't think anyone here in Finland really does that - sounds weird to me!

Anonymous said...

if you want a lighter version you can use 1% milk. the consistency is thinner, but just as tasty. another great use for it is in recipes, anytime a recipe calls for buttermilk, substitute it with viili. you can also substitute it for milk in most recipes. it gives the baked goods a lighter, airier texture that is just divine.

Eva Bakkeslett said...

Hi fellow fermenter,
I am an artist doing a cultural fermentation research project on VIILI - the Finnish stringy yoghurt- at the Halikonlahti Green Art Triology at the Salo Artmuseum ( in Finland starting now and running till the end of October 2011.I will do this work by collecting stories and photos about VIILI and thereby tracing the roots of this Finnish culture. All the gatherings will be displayed at the Salo Art Museum for the duration of the project and also gathered on a blog:
Throughout the period I also hope to find an old viili culture that is still kept alive somewhere deep in the Finnish forest! This is a collective work so contributions from the public are welcome in form of stories, pictures or anything else of relevance. It would therefore be fantastic if you have anything to contribute. It would also be very good if you can spread the word to anyone who might have their own stories to contribute to the project. Perhaps you are connected to a network og fermenters where you could send out a request?

I hope to hear from you:)

All the very best,
Eva Bakkeslett