Gjetost

gjetost

Gjetost (pronounced yay-toast) translates from Norwegian as “goat cheese,” but it is more like fudge or caramel than cheese in both flavor and the process for making it. It is not ripened. It is simply whey that has been boiled and reduced to about 20 percent of its original volume, which makes it incredibly rich.

My first attempt to make gjetost was an icky failure. I wound up with a salty, sweet, grainy goo in the bottom of a pan after 11 hours of simmering whey on the stove. It looked like sand that had sunk to the bottom of a watered-down caramel sauce. No one else would even taste it. In spite of its dreadful appearance, it tasted delicious, and I knew I had to find a better recipe and try again. Because it is extremely rich and you shouldn’t eat too much at one sitting, I make it only when we have company coming.

Whey is the only ingredient you need for making gjetost, and you can use whatever amount you have left over after making cheese. You should use fresh whey, however, or the final product is likely to be too salty. Put the whey on the stove in a heavy-bottomed pot and boil. And boil. And boil. This process will recall making maple syrup for those of you with experience boiling sap. You will be boiling for a few hours. The more surface area in your pot, the faster the whey will boil down, so given a choice between a tall, skinny pot and a wider, more shallow pot, choose the wider pot to boil down the whey faster.

When the whey starts to thicken and is as thick as a runny pudding, I use my stick blender to get rid of its graininess. When the whey is smooth, I place the pot in a sink of cold water to chill it rapidly while I whisk it.

gjetost in the pot
When the gjetost gets thick enough to stay on one side of the pot when scraped over there, I know it’s time to pour it into a pan for chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

After gjetost has been refrigerated, it will become a semi-solid piece of cheese, which can be sliced for serving.

Raising Goats Naturally

This is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More, 2nd Revised Edition by Deborah Niemann.

Other Cheese Recipes You May Like To Try

How to Make Gjetost

15 thoughts on “Gjetost”

  1. This might be a silly question, but can you use whey left over from making Greek yogurt. Completely clear, bright yellow whey?

    Reply
    • That would be challenging because of the quantity of whey. This starts out with about 3 quarts of whey and winds up with that little block of cheese. I haven’t weighed it, but you’re probably boiling off 80-90% of the liquid. You could try, but I don’t think you’d have enough to boil it down far enough before it starts sticking and possibly not even covering the bottom of your pot. And I don’t think it would be deep enough to use a stick blender, which seems necessary to get a good consistency.

      Reply
  2. Gjeitost is really delicious! I don’t make it too often since it is really time-consuming and tricky and heavy in the end to stir, but the whole family adores it

    Reply
  3. I somehow messed this up… I went from approximately 2 quarts of whey down to about a cup… and it never set up and was gross
    I will give this to the chickens and try again
    What other options are there for using the whey from making goat cheese?

    Reply
    • That’s interesting! What kind of cheese had you made? And was the whey fresh?

      Whey is also a dough conditioner, so you can just replace water with whey in any bread recipe. This is especially great for whole grain breads because it gives the bread more lift.

      Reply
  4. I used fresh whey from making Chevre, while it was still warm, and I got the salty grainy goo. I wouldn’t mind the texture if it tasted better, lol. I didn’t blend it, and it also never hardened. Help!! I’m way too excited about this to give up!

    Reply
    • You have to start with milk that tastes great because you are concentrating it, so if it has even a hint of goatiness in the beginning, it will be really terrible when you boil it down.

      I experimented with this a LOT, and I could never find a way to get a good texture without using a stick blender.

      Reply
  5. Whey…any whey? I haven’t attempted making ‘cultured’ and/or rennet cheese yet. I’ve just been making ‘fresh’ or acid cheese with vinegar or lemon juice. Will the whey from this cheese work to make Gjetost?

    Reply
    • I am pretty sure that I’ve used all kinds of whey. Since you are just boiling it, I don’t see why it would matter.

      Reply
      • It worked! I put 2qts of (previously frozen) fresh cheese whey (only acid, no culture, no rennet) in a crockpot on high and left it overnight to reduce. Would have reduced quicker if I’d left the lid off! In the morning I put it on the stove and turned up the heat, stirring, stirring. Took 1.5 hrs to cook down and start to change color and physical form. What was left in the small sauce pan was not enough for an immersion blender so I resigned myself to grainy gjetost. Poured it in a buttered crock and got about 1/2cup gjetost. It is grainy and not near as dark or creamy as the Norwegian Gjetost videos I saw, but we can work with this. It is yummy! Definitely more sweet than savory. Thank you for this use of massive amounts of whey. Next time I will at least double the amount of whey I start with so hopefully I will have enough final product to immersion blend. I think (?) I have such a small return because I used fresh cheese whey (only acid, no culture, no rennet), or as David Asher explains it “Cooked Whey”. “Cooked whey is very low in protein, as most of the milk protein is removed by the heat-acid coagulation.”

        Reply
          • Getting closer! Today’s batch of gjetost came out thick and creamy. Not quite ‘plane-able’, more spread-able, but NOT grainy for the first time! I started making your aged cheeses from the Home Dairy course and used the whey from the Gouda. I think gjetost needs some of the milk solids(?), butterfat(?) in it for it to make up correctly? My cooked/acid whey with no rennet or culture was always a clear liquid, stayed clear and never thickened up no matter how long I cooked it. The whey from the Gouda had a fair amount of white sediment in it. Almost all the other recipes I found for gjetost mentioned adding cream or milk toward the end so I think my previous attempts were not as successful because I had no milk solids in the whey. Next round I will cook it longer. Needs to be more than just ‘to trace’. But what I made today is really good spread on apple wedges. Everyone at the meeting tonight said so!

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