Eggs & Dairy in Scandinavia

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Eggs are beautifully packages, nutritious food and have been a source of fascination to man since the earliest times. In the north Atlantic islands, where sea birds lay their eggs on narrow shelves on incredibly high and inaccessible cliffs, egg-collecting has long been the ultimate test of male cunning and bravery.

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While the conscientious egg-collecting habits of the indigenous people never posed a threat to the bird population, most of the egg gathering is now prohibited. Twenty years ago seagull’s eggs were available in the spring.

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These beautiful, spotted eggs are a quite different and exciting experience when boiled – the yolk a deep sunset color, the white eerily opaque – and the taste is more intense and creamy than that of a hen’s egg, but eating gulls’ eggs is an experience lost to political correctness, we’re afraid. People up north in Norway were extremely fond of their gulls’ eggs combined with Mack beer (the local beer – still available).

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These days the gulls’ numbers are restricted by making holes in their eggs rather than eating them. In some places, wild birds’ eggs are still collected in a sustainable way; the eggs of the common guillemot and the fat chicks of the northern fulmar are eaten by people in the north as a delicacy in spring – the habit of people used to searching for nutritious food for their families at the scarcest time of year, when winter stocks have mostly been eaten and new crops are only on their way.

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The perfect soft-boiled egg starts with the best eggs. You don’t necessarily want it to come straight from the chicken. We have learned this the hard way. Super duper fresh eggs will stick the the shell when you boil them. But if you use the older eggs, say a week old, the shell will slide right off. Boil your egg at a rolling boil for 6 minutes for a small egg and 9 for a large. Remove egg from the hot water immediately and dunk in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The yolks should be creamy and delicious.

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Butter is an essential ingredient in many Scandinavian dishes

Scandinavian food is unthinkable without lots of dairy products: butter for crisping fish and meat, and for sauces in which to bathe mushrooms and vegetables; cream for potatoes and berby sauces; cream and sugar for the sweet berries; and whipped cream for every dessert and cake.

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Cheese is eaten around the clock, and is a vital component of lots of lovely dishes. Even if, nowadays, we are more reluctant to eat massive amounts of animal fat everyday, we will not demolish our traditional dishes and culinary heritage that demand the rich cream and butter.

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We choose to eat a little less of it and enjoy the richness of beautiful dairy products when it’s necessary.

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The most common Scandinavian cheeses are perhaps the Castello Blue, a triple-cream, blue-veined gourmet cheese with a washed-rind. The Norwegian Jarlsberg is known for its distinctive sweet and nutty taste, and of course, those large, round holes, Jarlsberg is often called the Norwegian Emmental Cheese.

A cheese that cannot be misses in a Scandiavian chesse platter is Gjetost. A sweet red-orange gourmet cheese with an unmistakable sweet, almost fudgy, caramel taste. A Swedish Darmer Cheese is part of our selection and is a lovely creamy cheese.

Eggs & Dairy in Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg