Messmör (Swedish Whey Butter) and Hyggelig
I often call myself a 1/4 Extrovert and 3/4 Introvert and being alone most of the time is fine with me. But once in a while I love a gathering, the Exchange.
My friend Dennis recently taught me a Danish word with no direct English translation, and I think it describes what I love about little gatherings. The word is Hyggelig (pronounced hoogly): the art of creating intimacy…that feeling after dinner with friends when you hang out for hours around a fire…the exchange of thoughts, stories, news and laughs in a relaxed setting where time melts away and the only things that matter are the people around you in a cozy atmosphere, laughing and talking for hours.
Last weekend was the annual gathering of long time friends in this Wisconsin hostel-cabin that is our home base for the month. Along with a few outings to the ski trails, eighteen of us spent many hours lounging, talking, eating, sharing, playing games, and laughing….lots of laughing. This is one of the best parts of our humanness in my opinion, and I think we did justice to the word Hyggelig. Dennis would be proud.
I’m also sending out a thanks to the many offerings those friends left behind for us when they departed after the long weekend, especially the well-wishes to Scott for the upcoming Birkie race this Saturday. It felt like we were being sponsored with Good Luck, as well as cheese, cabbage, eggs, cream, apples, homemade salsa and maple syrup! It was great support for their Iowa representative in the nordic ski world.
Messmör is a soft reduced whey butter with a caramely Gjetost-like flavor that is popular in Sweden and is packed full of protein, calcium and iron.
Scott remembers this as a favorite snack when he spent time in Mora, Sweden decades ago. Like Gjetost, some people may need time to acquire a taste for this tangy-caramel-cheese-butter, but I love it. Give me a pair of skis, some GF crackers and a tub of messmör and I will have a good day. Oh yeah…the snow, there would need to be snow too.
Messmör can be made with fresh or powdered whey. If the whey is fresh, all day will be needed to cook off the liquid. Store it in the refrigerator overnight if it’s not finished and start the simmering again the next day.
Making Fresh Whey
Fresh whey is the liquid left after a curdling agent (rennet or vinegar) has been added to milk and the curds have been strained. I used liquid rennet—about 1/4 teaspoon to 8 cups of milk.
Heat the milk to 110 degrees, then add the rennet or vinegar. Turn off the heat and allow the milk to curdle (30-60 minutes), then pour the mixture through a colander or cheesecloth (to catch the curds) over another pot (to catch the whey).
The watery milky liquid is the whey. The curds are basically a form of Ricotta cheese and can be used for things like Saag Paneer, Lasagna, Ostakaka or other treats that call for a fresh cheese.
Powdered Whey can be found in health food stores (I ordered mine in a one pound bag). Powdered whey requires less cooking time, and does not create the deep caramel color like the whey that had cooked for 2 days. It looks more like whipped honey.
This was the consistency of a thin pudding when I pulled it from the heat. I stirred it while it cooled to help reduce crystallization, but it still had a very mild grittiness. Scott said that in Sweden they remove the messmör from the refrigerator to warm up to a creamy spreadable consistency that he compared to mayonnaise.
Cook Time: All day for fresh whey, or a couple of hours for powdered whey
Using Fresh Whey
Simmer in a stainless or porcelain pot:
Whey — 1-3 gallons, or however much you have
Scrape off foam that may form on the top as it heats. Save it to add back at the end.
Simmer it all the live long day.
As the whey thickens, stir and keep a close watch on it as it can easily burn.
When the consistency is similar to a tomato sauce or a thin pudding, remove from heat.
Continue stirring occasionally until cool.
NOTE: It will form a grainy texture if it is not stirred as it is cooling.
Using Powdered Whey
Mix the powdered whey with water, I used approximately 4 cups water to 2 cups powdered whey.
Follow the above cooking instructions. It will take less time.
Some recipes add in:
A dash of sugar
Serve on toast, crackers, or apples.
Enjoy the protein and mineral rush!
Outside our door…