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What Is Uunijuusto?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Unnijussto is a traditional baked cheese from Finland; it is not technically a cheese, but a close equivalent. These types of cheeses are made from colostrum, which is the first nutrient rich milk that a cow produces right after she has given birth to a calf. Colostrum milk contains a high amount of albumen, a substance that helps the milk to coagulate naturally to form the uunijuusto cheese. Regular cheeses, on the other hand, are formed by bolstering the milk with either rennet, an enzyme found in the inner stomach linings of young mammals, or with a vegetarian microbial coagulant.

Many traditional Finnish cheeses and other dairy products are made using colostrum. The usage of rennet in cheese-making was considered a cruel practice and was historically forbidden in Finland; as mentioned, the rennet for cheese-making, depending on the type of cheese, is obtained from the stomachs of unweaned calves, kids and lambs. If colostrum milk is not available, it is quite possible to make unnijuusto cheeses with ordinary milk and eggs. In this case, the eggs work as a coagulant and help transform the regular milk into cheese.

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The best uunijuusto Finnish cheeses, however, are the ones that are prepared using colostrum. Fresh colostrum is preferable, but it is also possible to use frozen colostrum to make the cheese. There is no need to melt the colostrum first, as it can be put straight into the oven and baked as it is. A pinch of salt is added to the milk before baking, and sugar and cinnamon may also be added for taste.

The colostrum milk is then baked in an oven for about half an hour at a high temperature. Baking the milk gives the uunijuusto cheese a characteristic yellowish color. It is possible to control the coagulation of the colostrum milk as it happens. For instance, if the cheese is turning out too hard, it can be softened by adding a little milk to it, while if the cheese is too soft, it can be stiffened by adding whipped egg whites.

In Finland, there are different regional ways of serving and eating the uunijuusto cheeses. Typically though, the uunijuusto Finnish cheeses are included in many Finnish desserts, usually in the company of dishes prepared with cloudberries, lingonberries, red currants, and other fruits. Uunijuusto cheeses can be purchased at many Scandinavian restaurants and food stores.

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