GJETOST: you either love it or you hate it…

089_gjetost_2There is no in between with this “cheese”  and I put “cheese” in quotation marks to lend the idea that some do not refer to it as such.  It actually is a product made out of whey.  Nothing at all like ricotta.  Just to set the record straight.

I have been a Gjetost (pronounced “yay-toast”)  fan for many years….long before I married the cheesemonger.  It is an accquired taste…almost along the same lines of liking provel.  Gjetost (as we know it in N. America) literally means “goat cheese” in Norwegian.  The Norwegian name brunost (the name used on the other side of the Atlantic) means ‘brown cheese’.  Over here  it is referred to and sold as gjetost, which is an older spelling of geitost that is no longer frequently used elsewhere.  Now…with that all straightened out…let’s talk about how wonderfully delicious this cheese is.  Gjetost is made by boiliing a mixture of milk, cream and whey carefully for several hours so that the water evaporates. The heat turns the milk sugar into caramel which gives the cheese its characteristic taste. It is ready for consumption as soon as it is packed in suitable sized blocks. A low-fat variant is made by increasing the proportion of whey to milk and cream..but let’s be honest, it’s not as good. I found a great recipe for making gjetost in your own kitchen.  I have yet to try it but looking forward to it.

I did a little jig this afternoon when trolling my local grocer to find it in the cheese section.  Simon turned his nose up at the sight of it…but I am happy.  I couldn’t wait to get home and dig in.  I prefer mine on toasted bread or naan/pita.  I also like it with apples or pears.  It has a decidedly unique nose….some refer to it as fishy.  I smell the caramel…but I also smell the pungent “barnyard” of the goat’s milk.  It very thick on the tongue and is best served in light curls from a cheese plane.  I chunk would be just too much in your mouth…like a heaping spoonful of cold peanut butter or rich fudge tasting of caramelly goat cheese….not too pleasing in that respect.

It has a great nutty quality and silken texture when cut right…I have yet to find a good wine to pair it with…but I do enjoy it with beer.  A dark stout or a strong lager.  It is a wintery cheese in my mind…but I do eat it all year long.  I have been playing around with making an apple/gjetost pie.  I wonder if Cupcake Project would be willing to brainstorm with me…Stef is good at this sort of thing…

I have found it at Global Market and Whole Foods in St. Louis….here in AZ it was at Basha’s.

61 thoughts on “GJETOST: you either love it or you hate it…

    • i love the stuff….Simon loathes it…..so….I don’t know what you can deduce from that. I know that it was on the cheese plate at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar and Sasha’s back in the day….maybe still is.

      • Definitely still on the cheeseplate at Bailey’s… I think it’s a more timid version of their Drunken Goat.. and good.

  1. Too funny! I didn’t put two and two together when I read that last night (might have been effects of Repeal at Bottleworks), but your note about it being at The Chocolate Bar reminded me that my wife, just last week, went after a long day at the hospital with some of the other nurses. Just shot her a text message at the hospital to ask her what the name of that cheese she told me about last week. I remembered that she said I “would either love or hate” and sure enough this is the one. One of her friends is from Sweden and recommended it to her! Guess I will have to give it a try this week. And if you are recommending stout, I think I can pick out a good one!

  2. I always think of it as Caramel Cheese, and I once liked it but now I don’t. It is still on the cheese menu at the Chocolate Bar…at least as of 6 months ago or so… I feel better knowing the cheesemonger turns his nose up at it…

  3. I love gjetost! In fact, we had it for the first time at The Chocolate Bar and have bought it several times after that at Whole Foods. An apple pie with gjetost would be awesome!! But you know that I’m now trying to figure out how to use it in a cupcake. 🙂

  4. I am going to try to make some with my leftover whey from the gouda I am making now.
    I’ve recently started making homemade cheese in brooklyn: see my new blog at cheesenbread.wordpress.org

  5. Another “yes”; my Norwegian stepdaughter and her family have taught me about it. In fact, there’s a book (originally in Norwegian, and there’s now an English version out, which one of the Viking grandchildren gave us) called “Brown Cheese Please” whose subtitle is “Norway inside out from the outside in”. Obviously the key to all things Norwegian.

    • Ann, that book sounds wonderful. I’ll have to search out a copy. Simon’s maternal grandfather is of Norwegian descent. I’m sure he’d love it!

  6. Just have to comment, that the way you pronounce the word gjetost is not in fact “yay-toast.

    The first syllable (gje) is pronounced as follows:

    gj is pronounced ‘y’, as in ‘yellow’

    and e is pronounced ‘eye’

    The second syllable (tost) is pronounced phonetically (the ‘o’ is a short ‘o’ sound, as it is in the word ‘cot’).

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  8. Eva, actually your pronunciation of gjetost is not quite correct either. Although not really pronounced “yay toast”, this is a closer version to the correct pronunciation.
    The proper way to pronounce it is “yet oost”, with slightly more emphasis on the “T”s than Americans would use. The “o” in Norwegian is actually not a short vowel, as in “cot”, but rather more akin to the “oo” in “boost”. Your pronunciation of “eye” would be correct for the modern spelling of the Norwegian word for goat (geit).
    I was raised on this stuff and love it! If youy would like to try another great Norwegian cheese, try Jarlsberg, similar (but better) than Swiss.


    • DITTO! I’ve grown up (and I’m pretty old now) on Gjetost grated over lentil soup and Jarlsberg eaten every which way cheese is eaten, plain sliced thin with an OXO cheese planer, added to eggs, cheese toast or open face BBQ sauce, deli turkey or ham topped with cheese, also stuffed mushrooms. Also good on crackers with a little sweet-hot mustard. My family loves both cheeses also–supplies go fast at our house.

  9. Forty some years ago I had the opportunity to stay with a Norwegian family near Oslo. We ate this soft brown cheese for snacks and on the side at meals. So consider cross country skiing for 2 or 3 hours and then have a snack with crackers and gjetost. Quick energy. mmmm!

  10. My Dad used to eat this cheese with pears when I was little and I hated it. He just passed away and I keep thinking about this cheese. Might go get some and see what I think now.

  11. So cool to stumble on to a St. Louis site while researching this cheese. We had it for the first time at a Mom’s Night Out at the Chocolate Bar and this cheese was the universal favorite from among the five we tried. Anybody know if I can find it anywhere but Whole Foods?

  12. I’ve been trying to make this, with generally disappointing results.

    It seems to develop a grittiness that people find objectionable; almost like sand but not as hard.

    Anyone have a recipe that works for them? I have whey too much way to get rid of! We cook rice and oatmeal and quinoa in it, and still have a lot left over.

  13. I am interested in making this cheese commerically as I have a Goat Dairy. Would you mind sharing your recipe or know where I can find a commerical recipe for GJETOST. Thank you.

  14. Annie, loved your article and I have loved this cheese for many years. While I’m not a big egg person, an omelet made with Gjetost is to die for. While I don’t make cheese often I do make ricotta and chenna (paneer), was wondering if the whey from this can be used to make gjetost? The link Scandilicious provide was a fascinating article, that made me want to get on the next plane to Norway. Will have to check-out some cheese stores here in NYC to see if anyone caries the artesianal version.

    • Hey Bobby! I never thought about eggs. I eat eggs like they are going out of style so this is a great idea. I don’t know about the other wheys….I figure it wouldn’t hurt to try!!! I’ve never seen gjetost in the ‘artisan’ section of the cheese shops. It’s always imported in from Norway. And lucky you with all those great NYC shops! Enjoy and let me know if you try the new recipes.

  15. Okay, I did some experimenting, and found that it pairs very well with more bitter flavors, especially toasted sesame seeds. Sweeter pairings seem to dilute the flavor of the cheese too much. I had an idea to try it with other flavors. The saying: “rare as Chinese cheese” came to mind, and actually gave me the idea to try it with traditional Oriental ingredients…So far, “spicy peanut crusted wings dipped in Gjetost” and “coconut, Raddichio and carrot salad with Gjetost croutons and sesame vinaigrette. Fun stuff, this oddball cheese is!

  16. As a foreign exchange student in Harstad, Norway for my senior year in high school, I ate gjetost on bread for breakfasts and lunches nearly every day! The bread was much heavier and complemented it very well. Although I was not a fan at first I became just as addicted as any Norwegian. (I guess I must give credit to my Norwegian mother 🙂 ) This is a very usual breakfast or lunch in Northern Norway.

  17. geitost-caramels is the best! My grandma always make it when Im staying at her.

    2 dl Cream
    1.5 dl Suryp
    2 dl Sugar
    1.5 ss Butter
    2-3 ss geitost (add more if like!)

    let it boil untlil the caramel get nearly hard, ca 40 min (take a teaspoon whit the caramel on and put it in a glas whit cold water, wait for 2 min. The caramel should now be nearly hard. If its not, let it boil longer)

    Sorry for my bad english ;D

    Grettings, Lars from Trondheim, Norway.

  18. Is this the same as Primost? Can no longer find that and Dad eats this but says he likes Primost better. My brother just brought him back a package from Norway. I think it (or at least Primost) tastes like sour sand so the post about sand hit home! Maybe I should try it again.

  19. It’s a wonderful cheese! I was introduced to this by an exchange student from Ulset, Norway during High School. It is delightful. A great brunch snack with warm sliced french bread or fruit. I just bought some today at Andersen’s in Dublin Ohio. You also can pick this up at most Whole Foods. Try it…it’s a very unique flavor.

  20. My dad is Norwegian (via Minnesota) and last weekend he asked me to look for this cheese, and I found it at Schnucks in Ladue. I’m anxious to have him try it; he hasn’t had it since he was a kid! (And like Tonifi said earlier, it is cool to have found this on a St. Louis site!)

  21. Hello there

    I have been brought up on Gjetost and can’t get enough of the stuff… it goes very well with Apricot Jam. Being brought up in the north of Norway we used to have this with waffles…. nom nom

    Back to the pronounciation, I was always in the belief that it was pronounced

    Yay-t-os-t … short o and emphasis on the t’s…. must ask my mother lol

  22. You’re right about it having a taste like nothing else. At least 40 years ago, 1969 to be exact, my husband (USA) and I (New Zealand) were touring Norway on our honeymoon, and drove over the mountain pass from Trondheim into Sweden. At the top of the pass there was a railway station, where we stopped to rest our exhausted VW and get something to eat.

    I got what I thought was a buttered scone, but the taste was so unexpected, like nothing I had ever tasted before. Not being able to speak Norweigen, I never asked what it was, but I stored that taste in my memory.

    Imagine my surprise about 30 years later when I bought a red packet of goat cheese in a US supermarket to give it a try. The taste was not to be mistaken. The memories flooded back.

    Sadly, it is hard to find. We live in New Zealand now, and I would love to find a source for it. BUT NOW I HAVE FOUND YOUR SITE AND RECIPIES, I’M GOING TO GIVE IT A GO MYSELF!! YAY!!

    • Hi Monica. I grew up on Gjetost in Fiji and now live in NZ, gjetost free I thought… Until I discovered Swenz Taste. They are located here and import it to sell over the internet. Fantastic ! It is exactly the same, yay 🙂 Lynne

  23. Love Gjetost, just bought some this evening and am eating it while hubby noshes on some chocolate. Granted it is an unusual combination of ingredients and an unusual preparation, it is to be expected that purists would prefer it not be termed cheese. It is, however, far a more” real” food than the processed, pasteurized glue known as Velveeta. I love the savory-nutty-goaty sweetness just for its own sake, and don’t care whether or not anyone else calls it cheese. I call it good!

  24. i tried this cheese for the very first time from a sample cup at a farmers market this past saturday …. needless to say i bought a 1/2 pound block of it … LOL i think its great and have cut it into small cubes along with a sharp cheddar and swet summer sausage on a snack dish …. great cheese. love the ” nutty ” flavor.

  25. Gjetost is also sold at Wegman’s Food Store on the East Coast. Much cheaper than ordering it on-line. Just $8.99/lb.

  26. I love Gjetost. My dad used to serve it on club crackers with butter when I was a wee one. It’s funny how kids these days only eat things like chicken fingers and French fries. My dad was always preparing unusual foods for us to try, and we had to eat it. Once he made us eat pickled herring…. Gross. I also really like Jarlsburg which is a nice and nutty Swiss type cheese, and also Norwegian. What can I say, i am a 4th gen Norwegian American.

  27. I was introduced to gjetost on an episode of New Scandinavian Cooking. It was used in a sauce for venison. The recipe is here.


    As noted in a previous post, in the northeast, it can be found at Wegman’s markets, here.


    I like it, as well as Jarlsburg. I must admit that the color does look strange for a cheese.

  28. We currently have a foreign exchange student from Oslo, Norway. She brought a pound of Gjetost and a package of Wasa Crispbread with her. She even brought her own cheese planer.

    She says that it is something that she eats every day at least once. It is a breakfast, a lunch, or just a “between meal” snack. I want her to feel at home so I started searching. They carry both items right here at Basha’s grocery store in Gilbert, AZ! It is also available at AJ’s Fine Foods, Henry’s, and Whole Foods. I have not checked to see if it is at Sprouts…but I wouldn’t be surprised if they carry it, as well.

    However, it is $6.99 a pound…so I am seriously considering making my own. We also have goats and a lot of excess whey.

    Has anyone had true success with making this wonderful brown goat cheese? If so, please share your recipe.

  29. This is probably my Mom’s favorite cheese. I can remember, from a very early age, her eating it, and we kids being repulsed by it. Coming from a dairy family, and living just north of the famous Tillamook, we could hardly escape becoming cheese lovers, but this was just too strong for us at that early age.

    Recently, finding it in a local store, I gave it another try. Still too strong for me, by now that I am older, and actually cognizant of the name, not just the pungent odor and the unique brownness of the cheese, I looked it up online, and found a place where I could order it, and have it mailed to my Mom, in time for a Valentine’s Day treat.

    It had been some time since she had had any, and so that, of course, made her day, and she says that it is every bit as good as she remembered it.

  30. Well, this has been most interesting reading. I have a small herd of purebred Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats. I show them as well as milik them and make cheese. I also had so much whey that I could not use it all. I bake bread regularly with the whey, replacing all liquids with whey. Works really well. Then a friend brought me a sample of lthis grainy cheese she made. I was hooked. Had to look up the recipes. My first batch is cooling in the fridge right now, but I cheated and licked the spoon. Boy is it yummy. We are going to a goat show in about 10 days and this will be my entry in the cheese contest. I will be interested in seeing how it does. Mine is very smooth, almost like fudge. I think it is right, but we shall see when it cools.

    • I made some and took it to the goat show in Hutchinson, KS in June. Let’s just say, for the most part, people were polite, but no one asked how to make it. 🙂 On the other hand, my Chevre won first prize at that show and then I won first prize at the Oklahoma State Fair last week with my herbed Chevre. I give my extra whey to a friend that really enjoys Gejost more than I and my husband. My Gejost did get stronger in the fridge from the time I made it till I went to the show about 5 days later. Now I can say I know how to make it, but probably won’t unless someone asks for it specifically. One of my does was Reserve Grand Champion Senior Doe at the fair as well as having the Grand Champion Senior Buck and the Reserve Grand Champion Senior Buck. They all help to produce the yummy milk that makes my prize winning cheese.

  31. Any opinions on the usefulness of a crock pot for the 6 hour simmer? I’m going to drag mine out and see if it will hold a temp suitable for making this or greek yogurt.

    Maybe a dutch oven in the oven – it’s so easy to maintain a temp.

    How much does a gallon of whey yield?


  32. Have discovered that a thin layer of cold Gjeitost on a Ryvita cracker takes 3 sec. at the default setting on my microwave to just melt.

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