From Milk to Magic: An Inside Look at the Ingredients of Norwegian Brown Cheese

Norwegian brown cheese, known as “brunost” or “geitost,” has captured the hearts and palates of cheese lovers around the world with its distinctive flavor and creamy texture. Often enjoyed on bread or waffles, this traditional Norwegian delicacy has a mysterious appeal when it comes to its composition. In this feature article, we embark on a flavorful exploration to uncover the secrets behind the creation of Norwegian brown cheese and reveal the unique ingredients that contribute to its delightful character.

The magic of milk

At the heart of Norwegian Brown Cheese is one primary ingredient: milk. But it’s not just any milk; it’s a special blend of cow’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of the two. The proportions of cow’s and goat’s milk used can vary, resulting in different flavors and textures. The milk used in the production of Norwegian Brown Cheese provides a rich and creamy base that sets the stage for the cheese’s unique characteristics.


The ingredients used in the production of Norwegian Brown Cheese can vary slightly depending on the specific recipe and variety. However, here is a general list of ingredients commonly found in Norwegian Brown Cheese:

  • Milk: A mixture of cow’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both.
  • Whey: A liquid by-product of the cheese making process.
  • Cream: Sometimes added to increase the richness and creaminess of the cheese.
  • Lactic acid starter culture: Used to start the fermentation process and develop flavors.
  • Rennet: An enzyme used to coagulate milk and form curds.
  • Salt: Added for flavor and preservation.
  • Sugar: In some recipes, a small amount of sugar may be added to increase sweetness.
  • Optional flavorings: Some varieties of Norwegian brown cheese may contain additional ingredients such as caraway or other spices for added flavor.

It’s important to note that the specific proportions and quantities of these ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe and brand to brand, contributing to the unique flavors and textures of different types of Norwegian brown cheese.

Caramelization: The key to its distinctive flavor

The defining characteristic of Norwegian Brown Cheese is its deep, caramel-like flavor. This flavor profile is achieved through a process called caramelization. After the milk is carefully heated and concentrated, lactose, a natural sugar found in milk, undergoes a chemical transformation. The lactose breaks down into simpler sugars, creating a rich, caramelized flavor. This process gives Norwegian Brown Cheese its distinctive sweet and slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of caramel and butterscotch.

Whey – a by-product turned ingredient

Another key ingredient in Norwegian Brown Cheese is whey, a liquid byproduct of the cheese making process. Rather than being discarded, whey is often reused in the cheesemaking process. The whey is boiled to reduce moisture and concentrate flavors, creating a sweet and caramelized flavor. This addition of whey contributes to the unique texture and flavor profile of Norwegian Brown Cheese, adding depth and complexity to the final product.

Varieties of Norwegian brown cheese

Norwegian Brown Cheese comes in several varieties, each with its own unique character and flavor. Some popular varieties include Gudbrandsdalsost, made primarily from cow’s milk, and Geitost, made exclusively from goat’s milk. Other variations may include combinations of cow’s and goat’s milk, offering a balance of flavors. Each variety showcases the artistry and creativity of Norwegian cheesemakers, and offers cheese connoisseurs a variety of options to enjoy.

Health Benefits

Norwegian Brown Cheese not only tantalizes the taste buds, but also offers several potential health benefits. While it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, here are some positive aspects of Norwegian brown cheese worth noting:

  1. Nutrient-rich composition: Norwegian Brown Cheese is a good source of essential nutrients. It contains valuable vitamins such as vitamin B12, which is important for nerve function and red blood cell production, and vitamin A, which supports vision and immune function. It also provides minerals such as calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth, and phosphorus, which is necessary for energy metabolism and cell function.
  2. Protein powerhouse: Norwegian Brown Cheese is a remarkable source of protein, which plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues, supporting muscle development, and contributing to a feeling of fullness. Protein also aids in the production of enzymes and hormones, promoting overall health and well-being.
  3. Natural energy boost: With its naturally occurring sugars, Norwegian Brown Cheese can provide a quick and convenient energy boost. The combination of lactose and caramelized sugars in the cheese provides a source of readily available carbohydrates, which can be beneficial for individuals who are physically active or in need of an energy boost.
  4. Calcium for bone health: Calcium, which is abundant in Norwegian Brown Cheese, is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Adequate calcium intake throughout life, as part of a balanced diet, can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and promote healthy bone density.

However, it’s important to note that Norwegian brown cheese is also relatively high in fat and calories. It is therefore recommended to enjoy it in moderation and to consider portion sizes in order to maintain a healthy diet. As with any food, individual dietary needs and considerations should be taken into account and it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized nutritional advice.

Instructions for Homemade Norwegian Brown Cheese


  • 4 cups cow’s milk
  • 2 cups goat’s milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup whey (liquid byproduct of cheese making)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lactic acid starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride (only if using pasteurized milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid animal rennet
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cream, and whey. Heat the mixture over low heat, slowly bringing it to a temperature of about 160°F (71°C). Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
  2. When the milk mixture reaches the desired temperature, sprinkle the starter culture over the top. Stir gently for one minute to distribute the culture evenly.
  3. If using pasteurized milk, dissolve the calcium chloride in a tablespoon of cool water and add to the pot. Stir well to incorporate.
  4. Continue to heat the mixture to a temperature of 185°F (85°C) while stirring regularly. This process helps to concentrate the milk and develop flavors.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool to approximately 60°C (140°F). While the mixture is still warm, dissolve the liquid animal rennet in a tablespoon of cool water and add to the saucepan. Stir gently for one minute.
  6. Cover the pot and let sit undisturbed at room temperature for about 1 hour to allow the mixture to coagulate and form curds.
  7. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl or pot to catch the whey. Carefully pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth-lined colander, allowing the whey to drain. Allow to drain for about 2 hours or until most of the whey has been removed.
  8. Transfer the drained curds to a clean saucepan and return to low heat. Gradually heat the curds, stirring occasionally, until they begin to melt and become smooth.
  9. Add the salt to the melted curds and continue to heat and stir for another 10-15 minutes, until the mixture reaches a smooth and spreadable consistency.
  10. When the cheese has reached the desired texture, carefully pour it into molds or small containers. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to set completely.
  11. After chilling, your homemade Norwegian brown cheese is ready to enjoy! Serve it sliced on bread or waffles and enjoy the unique flavors of this traditional Norwegian delicacy.

Note: Homemade Norwegian Brown Cheese will keep in the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks.


Norwegian Brown Cheese, with its distinctive flavor and creamy texture, is a cheese like no other. Made from a special blend of cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or a combination of both, it undergoes a transformative process of caramelization, resulting in its rich and sweet flavor profile. The addition of whey further enhances its unique characteristics. Norwegian Brown Cheese is a testament to the artistry and tradition of Norwegian cheesemaking, offering a delightful taste experience that continues to captivate cheese lovers around the world.


What is Norwegian brown cheese made of?

Brunost is made by boiling a mixture of milk, cream, and whey carefully for several hours so that the water evaporates. The heat turns the milk sugars into caramel, which gives the cheese its characteristic brown colour and sweetness. It is ready for consumption as soon as it is packed and refrigerated.

What is Norway brown cheese?

What is brown cheese? In simplest terms, brown cheese, or brunost as it is written in Norwegian is a tan-coloured ‘whey cheese’ with a distinctive caramel flavour. Part of me feels it’s cheating to use the word cheese in its name at all, because, well, it isn’t technically cheese!

What does Norwegian brown cheese taste like?

What does Norwegian brown cheese taste like? When asked about the flavor of brunost, you’ll typically hear one say that it’s sweet and caramel-like. Depending on the milk used – cow, goat or a combination of the two – the creamy, fragrant cheese can also have a nutty or tangy taste.

What is the most popular cheese in Norway?

As mentioned above, the most popular form of cheese in Norway that can be seen in almost every kitchen throughout the country is hvitost/gulost. There are several different brands, but the most popular two are certainly Jarlsberg and Norvegia. For the poor students out there the store brands are almost as good too!

What is the National cheese of Norway?

Gjeitost cheese

Gjeitost cheese, also spelt as ‘Geitost’ and pronounced as ‘Yay-Toast’, is a farmhouse and creamery, semi-hard cheese. It is so popular in Norway’s that it is also called as Norway’s national cheese!

How do you eat Norwegian brown cheese?

A slice of brown cheese on regular bread or crispbread makes a very quick and easy breakfast, lunch or mid-afternoon snack. But brunost can also be eaten as part of a sweet snack, most often with a waffle and jam, or even as part of a sauce especially for game.

Is brown cheese healthy?

They contend that brown cheese, long a staple in many Norwegian homes, contains way too much sugar and fat to be a healthy food for small children.

Does Norwegian brown cheese need to be refrigerated?

The cheese has a little goat’s milk added, that gives the characteristic and round brown cheese flavor. Note: The product is recommended refrigerated between 0 – 4 celsius. It will be shipped without refrigeration, as the manufacturer states that the product, can be stored in room temperature in shorter periodes.

How do you eat Gjetost?

How to Eat Gjetost. Gjetost is often sliced and served on toast for breakfast. Gjetost is also great for breakfast because it’s a cheese that pairs well with coffee. It travels well and is a good cheese to keep in your pocket while skiing or take on road trips and camping trips.