The facade of the farmhouse dairy is a plastered white. The front door is deep red with a stainless steel plate displaying the company name. Pär and Johanna live in the nearby house. They would have it no other way. They also make some of the best cheeses in Sweden. All the awards that the couple and their cheeses have won attest to that. Gold medal upon gold medal in the Swedish Championships. Silver and bronze. Farming entrepreneurs of the year. The People’s Choice Award. Words of praise from several other fashionable outlets.
However, more than anything, you realise upon meeting Pär and Johanna that cheese making is about love. Love of the place, of the process and the product.
– You could say that we have condensed our lives – everything we know and stands for; the beautiful life at a farm in the northern forestland, into a cheese.
A journey of inspiration
– But we don’t make just one cheese, we make three, says Johanna, welcoming us inside the dairy. The Svejdan Gårdsost (Farm Cheese) is described as a hard cheese with small holes, inspired by Swedish cheesemaking traditions. The Svedjan Rustik (Rustic) is a blue cheese with a full, pleasant taste and soft texture, whilst the Smedjan Blå (Blue) is a rich blue cheese with a creamy texture.
The story of Svedjan Ost began in 2009. Back then, Pär and Johanna were involved in a different kind of farming. But the world around them changed so did the conditions for life on the farm.
– We were not really sure which way to go, says Johanna. We had briefly looked into cheesemaking, but it wasn’t more than that.
The couple still decided to go on a journey of inspiration together with Eldrimner — the national centre for artisan foods.
– And then, on a farm in southern France, the penny dropped. That’s exactly how we wanted to live. The French way of supporting their cheese tradition felt natural and was also directly transferable to our natural conditions up in the far north.
Some of the best cheese in Sweden
This is a story of how and why to make artisan cheese in Sweden. West of Skellefteå in Swedish Lapland, in a village called Svedjan, you’ll find a farm with some cows, sheep and cats, along with a summer café and in the centre of it all, the small diary for — Svedjan Ost.
Three kinds of cheese
The Svejdan Gårdsost is described as a hard cheese with small holes, inspired by Swedish cheesemaking traditions. The Svedjan Rustik is a blue cheese with a full, pleasant taste and soft texture, whilst the Smedjan Blå is a rich blue cheese with a creamy texture.
With the support of French master cheesemaker, Michel Lepage, and Eldrimner, led by Bodil Cornell, Pär and Johanna began their journey towards becoming cheesemakers.
– We immediately decided that we wanted to make a long-term investment and grow slowly. At our own pace. Making cheese is actually quite complicated, and a lot of it is about chemical processes, explains Pär. It took us about two years to fully understand how things are connected. What happens to the taste at various stages and how that affects the final product.
– The milk is, of course, highly important, Johanna continues. We use morning milk, and 500 litres is made into three hard kinds of cheese.
– And it’s all interconnected actually. The animals. The dairy. The care. The farm. The history. The buildings. The cultural landscape. All of this affects your experience of the flavour, which is why you couldn’t make Svedjan cheese anywhere but here.
A summer cafe in the Arctic
During summer, Swedish Lapland is filled with gems throughout the destination — summer cafés being one of those modest highlights. This is a brief glimpse into Svedjan Bageri. A high-quality bakery next door to the renowned dairy that makes Svedjan Ost.
Cultural events in the barn
There is also a barn in the yard, Göte’s hay barn. There, Johanna and Pär have been organising cultural events every summer since the early 2010s. Sometimes, there has been a theatre, other times music.
– Every year we hold an art event called ‘KOnstHAGEN’ with an open house, an arts and crafts exhibition and of course Swedish fika.
Would you like a taste?
Svedjan Cheese is on the menus of several restaurants in Sweden. If you would like to buy some to take home with you, you can find Svedjan Cheese in several ICA supermarkets, at the Burträsk market hall – and of course the country store in Storkågeträsk, a stone’s throw from the farmhouse dairy. Find out more at svedjanost.se.