My grandmother Evelyn shared a story from her childhood growing up in North Dakota recently. You see childhood diseases back then had hit her family very hard. Of the 12 sisters and brothers 6 did not make it to adulthood. Her grandmother, Guri, my great, great grandmother who was born in Norway, was not pleased with this and would tell my great grandmother, Hulda, to feed her children Gammelost and she wouldn't lose so many of her children! Then just in case, whenever they visited her grandmother Guri, she would get some Gammelost out to give each of the children.
I asked grandma Evelyn how it was made and she said you put skim milk in a wood bucket and let it sour in the back porch until it was very sour like in mold was growing on it, then this was heated and made into cheese.
Some day I'll have to try this stuff.
David Bristow October 2002
Some years ago I was travelling in Norway on a motorcycle, and bought
a quarter kilo of gammalost to bring back to the UK with me. For some reason I
wrapped the cheese in a sock (appropriately enough!). On reaching UK customs at
Harwich, I was stopped and a search conducted of my luggage. The customs
officer found the sock and pulled out the plastic bag containing the cheese,
which I then realised looks remarkably like an illegal substance. He asked what
was in the bag, and I replied "cheese". He then opened the bag and took a deep
sniff; I don't think he had come across Gammalost before, but he certainly was
not expecting the bag to smell the way it did. Looking rather pale, he advised
me I could go on my way, but I shall never forget the look on his face!
Ernest Gunerius Janurary 2001
Back in 1933 when I was 4 years old in Pembina, North Dakota, I used
to go with my Bestefar, Thor Marcus Gunerius, out to the back yard at five
o-clock in the summer morning to help him chop wood. I didn't do much except
ask him questions but he didn't seem to mind, he was sixty five. Along about 7
o-clock we would stop for a snack. He had a big stump he used for a chopping
block and he had to tip it over to get the tin box he used for the Gammalost.
My mother was Swedish girl from Minnesota and did not understand about
Norwegians and Gammalost so she would not let Bestefar keep his in the house.
So he buried under the chopping block in a tin box. There were no fences in our
little (600)town and it was the only way he could keep it safe from stray dogs,
not to mention the stray Norwegians. Bestefar taught me many things about work
and being a Norwegian. I recall asking him a question one day; I said
"Bestefar, why did God put us here on earth? and he answered, To help one
another. Well he helped me understand about Gammalost and why Norwegians have
to eat it. I loved it when I was four, and I love it to this day. I was last in
Ballard in 1987 and I found some then. On that trip I was comming from New York
state and I found Gammalost in Wisconson and Minneapolis at Ingebretsens. In
Ballard I bought ten pounds and I thought it would last but I ate it all up,
and have not had a taste since 1990. Thank you for the web site. Who, but a
displaced Norwegian would type Gammalost into a search engine and expect to
find something. But I did and thanks to you I did.
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." 1
Peter 2:17, KJV
Olive Petersen June 2000
Ed Gunderson brought some home made prim ost (cooked down whey) to
the Sonja Lodge Sons of Norway potluck, Olive Peterson remembered her mother
cooking down whey to make prim ost and mys ost on the back of the wood stove in
the 1920's. Her mother made gamalost which was allowed to cure in the spring
house at thier farm in the hills above Eugene, Oregon. Her mother was from
Slesvig-Holstein the former Danish region in Northern Germany.
Thelmar Ford March 27, 1999
94 years old, his family is from Rogaland he married Judith
Stensland whose family is from Helgoey also in Rogaland. He remembers Judiths
mother Malina Stensland making what he called "fatost" using Norsk
pronunciation. It sounds like the same process as gammalost: start with soured
skim milk, heat and remove curds, knead in some salt, press into one pound
cakes and allow to age. He said they really did not like it in the house
because of the smell which he remembers being like blue cheese, he also
remembers it looked like blue cheese and tasted like blue cheese. Thelmar drove
door to door selling the cheese during the early thirties in Story County Iowa
where it was very well received. "fat" in Nordmore is a shallow food container.
Maybe someone can share information on Fatost.
Karen Losnedahl December 1998
Gammelost has been a part of our Christmas celebration for as long as
I can remeber. My Grandfather from Norway always preached the healthy
properties of Gammelost to me and my brother, but we were always afraid to eat
it. We couldn't take the smell. We just watched our Dad and Grandpa enjoy the
gammelost sandwiches which consisted of Swedish limpa bread, goffelbeiter,
gammelost and a slice of hard boiled egg. My brother and I are adults now. It
wasn't until a couple years ago that I finally had the guts to try the sandwich
with my Dad. I must admit it was very tastey. The Swedish deli where my Dad
used to buy the cheese no longer carries it. Where can we get it? Please send
us your suggestions. We live in the Midwest USA.
November 1999 Ed Gunderson
I have had all sorts of digestive problems which go away when I eat
gamalost at least once a day for a week.
Vår Gamle Bondekultur II - J.W. Cappelens Forlag Oslo 1971 -
Kristofer Visted & Hilmar Stigum pp.82
Referance is made to gammalost being made from søt melk
(sweet milk) this was refferred to as søt gammelost, the book states
that most gammalost was made from sour skim milk like the gammal ost made today
Jewell Iowa Cookbook St. Pauls Lutheran Church 1985 submitted by
2 gallons sweet milk 3 tsp. salt 1 Tbs. caraway seed 1/4 cup heavy
cream Put milk into container which can be heated, let it clabber as quickly as
possible, cut into pieces when firm by running a knife through it in a criss
cross fashion until it is pea size pieces heat on stove to 135 deg. stirring
often for even heating, pour through a cheese cloth and squeeze until almost
dry curd is obtained. Store for several days in a covered bowl strirring
several times each day. When it is fermented and smells like cheese add other
ingredients and mix throughly. For two days stir two or three times each day.
Then you are ready to pack it in a covered container, and yeild is 1-1/4 pound.
This is mild at this stage. Those who prefer it aged make keep it indefinitely
by covering it with butter. Warn any and all neighbors and friends that your
home is your castle and that you will tolerate no infringement upon your right
to the pursuit of happiness within the confines of your own home and you will
need time, patience, intestinal fortitude and an understanding wife.
Scandinavian cheese lovers for coutless generations have been very fond of this
cheese particularly when it is aged. This recipe sounds like pultost which
is allowed to age. e.g.
Jarl Fossum November 1998
While I lived in Seattle and my parents in Minot N.D. Where there is
not one outlet that is properly licensed to dispense Gammelost.( at least not
registered with the EPA) So every few months I would buy a little from Olsons
Delicatessen in Ballard and spend much time wrapping it in several layers of
plastic, then sniff testing the package. Dad always appreciated my concern for
the postal employees well being , with lots of layers in order to slow the
spread of the awful aroma. Then dad would bring the Gammelost over to his
Danish friend Johnny. (My mother wouldn't allow it in the house) On just such
an occasion picture the two of them seated at the kitchen table lapping up
their favorite treat, when Johnny's wife Heisel wanting to show off theory
newborn son. Just as she enters the kitchen, she has no idea what the guy's are
eating, but takes a couple sniff's and look's down on the baby she is carrying
and says, "Oh But I Just Changed You."
KenRolston December 1998
Here are some ideas I got about gammelost cheese. I have no idea
where I got them -- probably from some guy who sold me some. The cheese is
cured by hanging them over cow manure in a barn. The Vikings used to carry them
in the bilge of their longships on long journeys because the cheeses kept so
well... or, looked at another way, leaving them in the bilge for a while didn't
make them any worse. I hope these things are true, but they are so cool I don't
really care -- when the legend is better than the truth, print the legend.