Giveaway: Win a Scandinavian Yogurt Starter (and how to make raw milk yogurt)

Yesterday, we discussed the cultured milks of Scandinavia and the role they play in the culinary traditions of the region.  Viili, filmjölk and piimä all share a similarity and, in many ways, are best described as yogurt though they each offer their own, unique, characteristics.  Piimä is faintly cheese-like in flavor and drunk as a beverage while viili is gelatinous and mild with an unusual ropey character,while filmjölk is tart and versatile.  Culturing dairy decreases lactose or milk sugar while also increasing B vitamins – including folate, that vital nutrient critical to the proper growth and development of unborn babies.

What makes these three cultured dairy products so peculiar and unique, at least to most people residing outside of northern Europe and Scandinavia, is that they are mesophilic in nature; that is, unlike yogurt, they thrive when cultured at room temperature.  This unique characteristic makes them remarkably easy and efficient to use in your kitchen.  The only trick is finding a source, since none of the three cultured dairy foods is regularly available in the dairy case of your local grocery store.

How to Make Viili, Filmjölk and Piimä with Fresh Milk

Many cultured dairy enthusiasts wish to prepare viili, filmjölk and piimä from fresh raw milk, but doing so is tricky as, overtime, the natural beneficial bacteria present in fresh milk will overtake the strains introduced by the starter.  For this reason, unless you keep a pure seed starter.  You accomplish this by scalding a pint of fresh milk, thus destroying heat-sensitive beneficial bacteria strains naturally present in the milk.  Cool this milk to room temperature and introduce your viili, filmjölk and piimä starter culture and allow it to ferment at room temperature for about one day.  This yogurt is your pure seed starter; take two tablespoons or up to one-quarter cup of this starter and add it to one quart fresh milk – allowing the milk to ferment at room temperature for roughly one day or until the cultured milk separates cleanly from the side of a mason jar when tilted.  Use only the pure seed starter in culturing your fresh milk yogurt, and take great care to save at least two tablespoons of pure seed starter to begin your next batch lest you allow the strains of bacteria in your fresh milk to overtake the starter.  The  pure seed starter must be recultured at least weekly.

Room temperature yogurts like viili, filmjölk and piimä produce more consistent results when used with fresh milk than classic thermophilic yogurts which require a constant warm temperature to properly ferment and turn runny when used with fresh milk.  If you do not wish to use fresh milk to prepare these yogurts, you may use pasteurized milk (not ultra-high temperature) if you scald it first and cool it to room temperature.

This week, we’ve paired up with Cultures for Health – an online source for all things fermented – in a fun giveaway that builds upon our recent lesson in the cultured milks of ScandinaviaCultures for Health will be giving away one of these starters to three Nourished Kitchen readers.  Three readers will win either a viili, filmjölk or piimä starter culture that they can use, reculture, enjoy and share in their own kitchens.

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What people are saying

  1. crystal j. says

    I would love to win the Piima culture–I’ve been wanting to try it since I read the recipe in Nourishing Traditions.

  2. Kelly Todd says

    What a great giveaway. I would love the piima culture . I agree I would use it with my recipes from Nourishing Traditions.

  3. Shawntell says

    I would love to experiment with any of these lovely cultured products. Makes me proud of my Scandinavian roots :)

  4. says

    I would love to make piima cream. It seems like it would be delicious on everything: pancakes, oatmeal, fruit salads, enchiladas…

  5. Sheri says

    I just ordered CFH Viili Yogurt Starter and also wanted to order the Filmjölk but didn’t have the funds so would love to win it! I would eat it plain because I’m on gaps and can’t eat fruit yet…


  6. Tonya Y says

    I would love to win this so I can experiment with various types of yogurts for the kids. I’d love to find one mild and thick enough to keep all 3 boys happy (ages 5,13, & 15).

  7. says

    I just made piima for the first time last week — it’s delicious! And so easy! I would love to try another type of culture — perhaps viili. We eat our yogurt plain with berries & granola or in smoothies. We eat some every day.

  8. Christina W says

    I would love to be able to make raw cultured dairy consistently. I didn’t have a good starter so my results would always vary. Very Frustrating!

  9. Melinda says

    Oh, I hope I win! Just this morning I was reading in my Nourishing Traditions book about making Oatmeal & needing this stuff to soak it! Then I got the e-mail that says someone might win some! Exciting. =0) So… I would use it for the recipes in Nourishing Traditions! Thanks!! Blessings, Melinda =0)

  10. jennifer dubos says

    I would love to try Piima culture! I’ve only used cultures from Body Ecology to start my yogurts and kefirs.

  11. Char says

    When I started making kefir and kombucha, my whole family thought I was off the deep end. Except my Grandmother (now deceased) who told my mother about having piima as a child (my Grandmother was Finnish). I have never tried it and would love to have a culture.

  12. Allison says

    I am loving villi. It’s mild enough my kids (and myself) eat it plain or with toppings. A touch of coconut sugar and frozen berries makes it one of my favorite desserts. I use it in to soak my grains as well, would love to try the other cultures. I’d even love a back up villi as I never want to be without this super easy, yummy yogurt!

  13. Mrs. B. says

    Thank you for keeping this blog and teaching us about cultured milk products. I am so excited to be learning about cultured milk products. This starter culture that you are giving away will be feeding my family the nourishment they need. Thanks again.

  14. says

    Waiting for the hot milk to cool down makes thermophilic yogurt inconvenient (for me) to make. It takes so long. Room temp yogurt would be a treat. I’ll try viili first; it sounds so unusual.

  15. says

    I love yogurt, so I’m not sure if I would just eat the cultured piima/viili/filmjolk plain as yogurt, OR, do more experimenting with recipes, especially those in “Nourishing Traditions”. I know Sally Fallon likes to use the piima to make several things, so I would likely experiment at least a bit!

  16. Laura L L says

    I just got my viili starter going this morning. I’m excited to try the raw milk yogurts. It would be great to try another one, also. I hope it turns out yummy. I’ve made good heated yogurts. How exciting. I’d like to try filmjolk next. Thanks!

  17. Shannon says

    We eat yogurt every moring in our house. Usually mixed with berries and applesauce. My 4 year old daughter loves food and loves to cook. I try work really hard to expose her to healthy foods and to include her in the growth and preparation of our vegetables and meals. She helps me garden, she comes every week with me to our CSA to pick fruits and vegetables and she helps me cook almost every night. I would love to include her in making our own yogurt. So much better than buying in in a plastic container in the store.

  18. Ashley says

    I would probably use the cultured milk in smoothies or just plain. I love drinking plain raw milk, but I like to choose cultured as much as possible for even more health benefits.

  19. Catherine says

    If I win, I will make my own plain yogurt to be mixed with fresh maple syrup or frozen fruits, that is just to start with!

  20. Teresa says

    Visited Cultures for Health & Entered to win one of three Scandinavian yogurt starters from Cultures for Health!

  21. Teresa says

    I raise dairy goats and love to make raw milk yogurt. I have used the viili culture in the past, but am currently without a culture at all! I would love to try the filmjölk or piimä cultures, or stay with the tried and true viili. I like to mix my yogurt with a bit of fresh fruit or preserves and a little granola. Next, I want to try making frozen yogurt and cucumber dressing. :)

  22. peg says

    Thank you so much for the wonderful giveaway…..I currently make my own yogurt and absolutely love the flexibility and the taste.

  23. MS says

    Tried viili culture for the first time this weekend. I think I will let it culture a little longer next time and see if it thickens up a bit more. Kind of reminds me of buttermilk. Was sooo much easier to not have to bring the milk up to temp and then back down again. What a time saver!

  24. Adela says

    We enjoy plain yogurt with fruit and homemade granola, in smoothies and to soak grains.
    I would like to make different types of yogurt, still learning about cultured milk products.
    Thank you for the great giveaway!

  25. Ali says

    I am a fan of just plain yogurt, so I would imagine I would also enjoy these cultured milk products, sprinkles with nuts! I would love to experiment with new milk cultures!!!!

  26. Bernadine says

    Why me – becuase I am curious – i want to know more, constantly about better foods and how to make them

  27. Stephanie says

    I’ve been slowly working my way into fermented foods. I started with kefir which is amazing in a fruit smoothie, frozen kefir (smoothies in popsicle forms) or in place of milk in pancake batter. Next I moved onto kombucha and have tried several teas to make different drinks (black tea, white tea, herbal teas). Lastly I’ve been working with sourdough starter to see what can be done with it, so far sourdough cinnamon bread is the biggest hit. I’d LOVE to make my own yogurt! It’s a new frontier that I’d love to experiment with! In pancake batter, cake batter, smoothies, frozen desserts, snacks (oooh! with bananas and honey!), … I’m sure I can find lots of other recipes for it. :)

  28. Trish Townsend says

    I just recently found a source for raw milk and had wondered how I could make yogurt with it without heating the milk. These cultures sound like my answer! I would use them as I would yogurt for making salad dressings and dips, for adding to my boys’ lunchboxes, and so much more!

  29. Robyn says

    I would love to win one of these cultures! I’m very interested in making my own fermented foods these days to help heal my candida overgrowth. I already make kefir, kombucha, raw fermented vegetables, regular yogurt and water kefir. I would love to add one of these to my “stash”!

  30. allegra says

    I would eat it plain. Maybe an occasional garnish of seasonal fruit like peaches or a dash of maple syrup. Delicious:)

  31. Ronell Mulder says

    Entered on the Cultures for Health website; I am already a follower of you newsletter. Tried to email a friend, but the security didn’t like what I typed..
    Interested in trying the coutertop yogurts (filmjölk and piimä). filmjölk to make my own creamcheese and piimä to make my own saladdressings!

  32. Maggie says

    I’d love to try it plain – build from there. I have made soft cheeses with an acid to curdle out the fats (delicious mild cheese) and would very much like to work with milk in new ways. (go raw milk!!)

  33. A says

    My half Norwegian bloodline makes me appreciate milk in almost any form. I do make yogurt and have been playing with kefir. The opportunity to try another cultured milk product would be delightful. Thanks for the offer.

  34. Anna says

    We have fresh raw milk from our dairy goats, and love yogurt with granola, in smoothies, and salad dressings. We also use it for soaking grains, etc. Having only used a thermophilic Yogourmet starter, it would be so nice to have a mesophilic one to try!

  35. Kelly H. says

    I’d love to win the piima one. I’d make different flavors with it in my vita-mix. A berry one and a peach one sound both delicious and nutritious!

  36. Sarah says

    I’d like to try any of them raw. I’d top anything from porridge to soup, and mix it with cheese, spices, and herbs to make sauces.

  37. says

    I just found this website through a post on Facebook, and I am glad I did! I have Kefir grains, and hadn’t heard of these scandinavian cultures, but would love to try them in some of my fresh goat milk. My favorite thing to add to kefir is fresh or frozen cherries and dark chocolate powder, so I would try the same with these cultures. I would also like to experiment with other fruits and herbs, and also try cheeses.

  38. Kathleen says

    I would love to win any of these because I have just started culturing, and all that is readily available to me are dried starter packets. I would probably eat any of these plain! Very excited to get more probiotics in our diets.

  39. CeciMami says

    If I win a starter, I’ll probably start by eating it with fresh or frozen berries and a little honey…yum!

  40. Shelley says

    I would love any of these cultures. I would use them to make all the things in NT that require soaking. I would also try piima cream with my raw milk cream. I live in Alaska, so like Scandanavia, and have found it frustrating that fermenting things takes longer here due to the chillier temps. (we keep our heat low). Yogurt, with it’s need for constant warmth has failed on me several times. I am glad to hear that those other clever northerners have figured out fermented foods in chilly climates.

  41. Andrea says

    I’ve been on a yogurt kick lately, but I’ve been eating store-bought. Home made would be much better. :)

  42. Erin from Long Island says

    Not only am I eager to experiment with these, but I want to share! I live literally blocks from my (kinda health-nut) aunt and uncle as well as my all-things-dairy-loving grandma and I want to see how they like it as well

  43. Erin from Long Island says

    damn , I just re3alized I missread the entry about using it!

    depending on which I hypothetically recieve, I would like to try it in the place of yogurt for curries, sour cream for Mexican dishes, and sweetened to accompany homemade scones

  44. Kelli says

    I take part in a medieval re-enactment group and in addition to portraying an 11th Century Swede, I spend a lot of time working to re-create recipes and food from the period. I would use the starter as an opportunity to make and taste some authentic old-school dairy.

  45. Kay Rea says

    I would love to make piima. It is very good for us. I have been trying to cook so the stuff we eat is healthy. I would also like to share my starters with my friends.

    I am very interested in viili. It would be another way to eat healthy.

    I would like to try filmjolk. It sounds very good. I’m hoping my husband will like one of the new yogurts. I make mine now, but he doesn’t care for them, so I would like to try some new ones.

  46. April Garcia says

    I would love to have a starter to use with our goat’s milk. We would use it plain or in smoothies.

  47. Heather says

    How would I use it? To connect with my Scandinavian (Danish) roots, of course! I would love to see how it compares with the yogurt I’ve been making in my new EuroCuisine yogurt maker.

  48. Phoebe says

    I was an exchange student in Scandinavia and love many of the regional foods. I have never tried any of these cultured milk products, though. And I’m pretty adventurous with my dairy… :)

  49. Jessica says

    I would love to eat it with honey and seasonal fruits! Still working on getting my daughter to enjoy it as much as I do so I’ll have to think up some good recipes…

  50. says

    I would like to make piima cream with our jersey cow’s skimmed-off-the-top cream, and cultured milk shakes like we do now with yogurt and kefir. Thanks for the chance! :-)

  51. Julie S says

    I don’t have any specific recipes in mind, but if I used them in cooking, it would probably be some type of pastry.

  52. Erin says

    thanks for the give-away! i would like to try any of these three. plain, as a soaking agent, on sourdough pancakes or waffles… yum!

  53. Bridget says

    I’ve recently started buying raw milk, and hate that I have to heat it to make yogurt (and I’m not so good at keeping it at the right temp – made cheese & whey last time!). I’d LOVE to be able to culture at room temp! I’d eat it plain or w/ honey, make smoothies for my 5 kids, and use it with oats – not to mention trying some of your recipies!

  54. says

    I would love to win one!..we live on smoothies in the summer with our own fruits..the blueberries are 4yr old and full of berries as well as our new persimmon tree cant wait til it starting fruiting. we also grow alpine strawberries and apricots.I’m signed up for the newsletter

  55. Jenn says

    Thanks for such a great giveaway! I’ve just recently started making yogurt using a bit of store-bought yogurt as the starter. My husband and I are trying to eat more/all natural foods in order to teach our 2 year old good food habits- he gave up his hfcs yogurt for agave sweetened homemade! I also use it in a spinach/fruit smoothie everyday, and I end up making a 1/2 gallon of yogurt a week, so not having to heat it would be fantastic! I love the sound of the custard-like kind, filmjölk.

  56. Megan says

    I’d love to win any of the culture giveaways! I’ve been making my own kefir for a year and my kids love it but I’ve really been missing yogurt. I’ve been looking into yogurt cultures for a while and this sounds like a perfect solution for my family.

  57. Jennifer says

    Do you know if you can freeze pure seed starter? This is a hard topic to find info on!

    I drive 3 1/2 hours one way to buy raw milk, because I believe in it!. I would love to make yogurt from my raw milk, but I just know that I won’t remember to reculture my pure seed starter weekly (I am a self-employed, home-schooling mom)… I’m sure you understand :)

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