On the Slate | Juustoleipa


“HOO-stah-lee-pah” or “you-stoy-lay-PA”

A fresh cheese specialty of Finland and Lapland, it is unique as it is made from cow and reindeer* (curious how a reindeer is milked…hmmm).  The cheesemaking process begins with the curds being drained and pressed into a flat, wooden platter with a rim.  This mold is placed in front of a fire until the outer layer is carmelized and toasted.  According to some sources this cheese is important culturally, playing an important role at holiday celebrations and the ever critical marriage tradition.  It goes that mothers of eligible women would offer prospects a cup of coffee with Juustoleipa and if the man was taken by the cheese he also won a wife.  Ah, simpler times!

The Finnish call this buttery cheese, “squeaky cheese”  however the  proper name, means  “cheese bread” given for the toast like appearance of the surface when this curing process is completed.  The overall taste is creamy and smooth with a crusty exterior surface.  As it is a fresh cheese it only ripens for a few days.  Traditionally served at breakfast or as a dessert  with cream and cloudberry jam.  Here in the U.S. I’ve been seeing it featured more and more as the centerpiece for grilled cheese or for in a macaroni and cheese.  It is beast served warm.

Country: Finland

Milk: Cow and Reindeer (!)

Texture: Semi-Hard

*note, this cheese when from Wisconsin, which is equally enjoyable, does not have reindeer milk (as if this wasn’t obvious!)

Recipes

Grilled Juustoleipa Mac & Cheese Salad 

Baked Juustoleipa Sticks