Ysteren at Bygdøy Kongsgård
Helene Austvoll is the capital's only farm and makes artisanal cheeses made from colostrum from the royal herd. Now she has been with affineur MonS and learned about ripening. There are big plans for Kongsgården's dairy, but for now everything is at the project stage.
Since 2013, there has been some milk processing at Bygdø Kongsgård. From fresh products such as sour cream, soft cheese and yoghurt, production has shifted more and more to maturing cheeses. Around 12,000 liters a year are used in the small cheese factory, and with 50 dairy cows and a total quota of 400,000 litres, there is enough milk to take off.
"Som du ser er det ikke store plassen, men jeg synes det fungerer fint til dagens mengde", sier Helene og viser rundt i ysteriet hun i løpet av de tre siste årene har fått bygget opp.
Her er det kortreist i alle ledd. Melkeleverandørene holder hus nærmest vegg i vegg og møterommet benyttes til å vakuumere ostene. I et modningsskap i naborommet står brett med modna kremost, - ellers er modningsrommet til hvitosten innredet i kjelleren i nabobygget. Selve ysterommet må med sine 18 kvm. tilhøre landets minste.
An artful process
- It is fascinating that a simple raw material like milk, which everyone knows, has endless uses. Making cheese is all about milk, trail, temperature and lactic acid bacteria. So simple and yet so enormously difficult, she assures.
-When the cheese is finished forming, it is the process of maturing that takes over and becomes decisive for the final product. In France, it is common to send the cheese off to specialists for that part of the process. Affineur is a specialist profession that is passed down through generations.
From a to z
-What is it about cheese that fascinates?
-As an employee of various agricultural organisations, I have worked with agriculture for many years, she says. - Now that I'm working instead in that, it feels more meaningful. Sitting behind a PC is not for me, - I like to use my body. Following a raw product all the way from beginning to end is incredibly satisfying. I could well have worked with vegetables or grain, but it is very fun to run a cheese factory and also get to work as a substitute in the barn, as I get here at Kongsgården. I feel I understand more of what lies behind the raw material by having contact with the animals. And when it comes to milk, knowledge never ends, - there is always something to learn.
Local place names
She herself works according to the artisanal method by making cheese from fresh organic milk. The cheeses are named after local names associated with the farm and are sold in restaurants and local shops around Oslo, as well as in the farm's own cafes - Gartneriet and Rohdeløkken. .
- I like the idea that everything here is built around the circuit, she emphasizes.
The milk is delivered straight from the animals and poured into the cheese vats before they are formed into cheese which is then sold on.
Now the plan is to build a new one and relaunch the cheese factory. With Statsbygg in the lead, the drawings are ready. She herself has recently attended a cheese ripening course at affineur MonS in France, where she has delved into the subject of cheese aging. An art few master like MonS.
- Sending the cheese away to maturing houses is more common in countries with larger productions, France, she explains. - In this country, we focus on traditions around cheese making and that each individual producer matures the cheeses themselves. Being a cheesemaker is a profession that is often passed down through generations and requires both skill and knowledge to master.
Gaining an insight into a knowledge based on how time-temperature-humidity is crucial to getting the perfect result was both fun and very educational.
-Any useful tips to take home?
- Yes, I have already made some small changes in relation to the temperature in the maturing cabinet and drying the cheese, she assures. - Not least, there are good lessons to be learned in the new cheese factory. We are planning to build a new cheese factory in an old barn on the farm. There we will produce unpasteurized cheese with milk from our fifty cows. We also want to be a showcase for craft cheese making, and a mediator of Norwegian food production and tradition. When the new cheese factory is ready remains to be seen.
Bygdø Kongsgård belongs to the Norwegian Folk Museum and is the capital's largest organic milk producer. In the artisanal dairy, - which is Oslo's only farm dairy, mature cream cheese, feta type, halloumi type and semi-hard white cheese are made for sale. In addition, yoghurt, cream cheese, ricotta and mozzarella are produced for our own catering establishments. All products are organic and approved by Debio. The cheeses are also made from unpasteurised milk.
Byline: Trude Henrichsen