Filmjölk aka Swedish Yogurt

Filmjölk and gooseberries.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some filmjölk online. I had heard about it before and wanted to give it a try. I have made lots of yogurt in the past but the cultures I had always used required the milk to be heated to a certain point then cooled to a given temperature while the culture did its thing. The type of cultures that requires higher temperatures like that are called thermophilic cultures. By contrast, mesophilic cultures tend to work at room temperatures and do not require the higher temps. Filmjölk is a mesophilic culture which means it can be produced at room temperature.

The taste is about like yogurt, maybe not quite as tart and it isn’t as thick as the yogurt you will buy in the store. I’ve used it anywhere I would use yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Since the culture works on the lactose, it doesn’t bother lactose intolerant individuals like plain milk does. Its great in pancakes, cake and with fruit. You can make a cream cheese substitute called yogurt cheese by draining off the whey. I like it with berries and a little bit of sweetener.

The photo shows some gooseberries I picked earlier in the morning. It takes about 12-18hours to incubate a batch. The ratio is 1Tbs of the starter to 1 cup of milk. I use whole milk but you can use 2% or even light cream. I generally start the process when I get home from work. The culture goes into the milk in a 1 pint jar and is placed on the kitchen counter out of the direct sun. By the following morning it is ready to be put in the fridge. It does continue to thicken in the fridge and that evening the process is started again. I can take a break if I don’t want to make it every day though it may take a little longer to get a finished product if the culture has been in the fridge more than a few days.

23 thoughts on “Filmjölk aka Swedish Yogurt”

  1. There are several suppliers that I have found. I ended up getting mine from Nick’s Natural Nook. They sell on ebay. I’ve also seen it at GEM Cultures. Each one of these sellers also sell many other cultures if you are interested. I was very pleased with Nicks and would buy from them again. If you are close to Cincinnati I can give you some starter culture if you are interested.

  2. I haven’t had a lot luck finding information on filmjölk in English. I was curious as to how long the culture would remain viable in the fridge. I decided to do a little experiment.

    I have a container of the yogurt set aside in the fridge and every week I took out a little to see if it will still be able to make a new batch. The results are…

    After 1 week – using 2Tbs starter for each cup of milk (2x the normal amt) it takes almost 24 hrs for a batch to finish.

    After 2 weeks – using 2x the amt of starter the milk has still not solidified after 3 days.

    Based on this experience I would say that the yogurt needs to be replenished once a week to keep the culture alive.

  3. I recently purchased some probiotic acidophilous to proactively prepare us for a trip in the islands. After my first taste (tablespoon) I was instantly brought back to my time in Sweden and all those wonderful breakfasts with filmjölk! For years I had tried to describe it to folks with just strange looks from them. So I am writing to find out where you purchased it online. I would love to order some and again make it a part of my breakfast. Now if I could just get a lingonberry bush!

  4. Kerry,
    Have you tried making quark with your filmjolk? Quark is like cottage cheese and I understand it makes great cheesecake.

  5. No I haven’t. How do you make quark? If I let the filmjolk stay out it will curdle and separate from the whey. Is this what you mean? Do you have a recipe?

  6. How can I get a starter kit for real Swedish thick milk. It would be quite thick and when you brought your spoon to your mouth it would tend to follow the spoon much like melted cheese would. Translating the Swedish words would be thick milk.

  7. Roy,
    Not sure if it is the same but it makes sense. Yes it quite thick when made with half and half, a little less thick with whole milk and fairly thin when made with 2% milk. I picked mine up on ebay. I believe it was sold by someone selling under the name Nick’s Natural Nook or something like that. They have kefir, filjolk, kombucha etc.

  8. Filmjolk is our buttermilk. I don’t know why everyone keeps saying yogurt. We do not usually mix lingonberries and filmjolk either. haha. But if anyone knows how to buy the real thing here, that would be great, because the buttermilk (without salt) here, is good, but not great. Tack och hej!

  9. Ninni, I’ve picked up a live culture via Nick’s Nature Nook on ebay. Never seen it in the stores. When I make it with regular milk it does resemble buttermilk but when I make it with half and half it has the texture of yogurt, very thick. Perhaps that is why people here call it yogurt? In either case I think it is awesome and I don’t care for buttermilk to drink but like to cook with it.

  10. Hi, I just got a filmjolk culture from a friend, mixed it with raw milk, set it on the counter for a while, and this morning when i came to it, it looked like it had thickened so I took out some new to start a new batch, and then figured out that maybe it wasn’t quite done. it’s pretty sour and sort of like curdled milk–did it work, did I not wait long enough? what should it be like when it is done? thanks!!

  11. My grandmother made something that she called Filia (this is my phonetic spelling…don’t know the correct spelling). I’m sure it was very similar to the fimyölk. Have you ever heard of something called filia (probably not correct spelling)? I’d love to find a recipe.

  12. I think the yogurt that someone is seeking that tends to be ropey and follow your spoon like melted cheese would is called “Viili”. Per info on Nick’s Natural Nook (which has great information by the way), Viili is a fermented milk yogurt from Finland. It is thick and viscous, almost jelly like, very “ropey”. It is mildly sweet and pleasant tasting. Viili thrives on cream. Make it with half and half for a rich dessert. Eat it plain, served with fruit and berries, or sweetened with honey, sugar, or Stevia. Because of its gelatinous texture, Viili makes delicious parfaits. **Also, if you are not able to keep up with weekly reproduction of your mesophilic yogurt, you can saturate 2 cotton balls in your culture, set on plastic wrap in front of a fan on LOW, and in about 48 hours the cotton balls will be yellow and crispy. Seal them in an airtight container and use within a month. Use you 2 cotton balls in 1 cups of milk to get your starter going. Also, you want to allow your culture to “set” in the refrigerator, PLAIN-no sugar/fruit added-before you remove your starter for your next batch. Works much better that way.

  13. I enjoyed your article. I eat filia (filia) all the time at my moms. Her starter came from a couple generations back when it was brought over on “the boat” from vilia soaked rags they kept warm against their bodies. Once here, they squeezed the rags into milk and it ket going!

    My girlfriend makes yogurt in our yogurt machine from organic yogurt as a starter. We tried the vilia in that, it didn’t work. It like temperatures closer to room.

    Our next project is to figure out Kefir!

  14. I have been hoping to find some starter for a long time and will contact one of the above companies. At home, we called it tjolkmjolk (thick milk) and it was slightly sweet compared with buttermilk. We made it with whole, unpasteurized milk which is difficult to find now as it is against the law to sell it. I loved to eat the milk culture with cranberries and now that I live where lingonberries grow I plan to eat it with those. I don’t remember refrigerating it as it sat out on the kitchen counter. Maybe we ate it all before it went bad. I do remember saving a bit (tetta) to make a fresh batch every week.

  15. As Dianne says, tjolkmjolk, pronounced (sort of tshölkmjölk) was very common during my childhood in N Minn with the predominate scandinavian/finnish population and always in the ice box. We made it from our own (guernsys) unpasteurized whole warm milk. I got a starter from an old friend a couple years ago and have been giving starters to some of the old timers around here. Would like to share but don’t know how well it would ship unrefrigerated. I think fine, as I recall ours also sat out for long periods years ago. I like it plain with a little sugar. Some called it “rubber milk” because of its kind of slimy consistency and that is what turns some people off. I have it often on our trips to Sweden and it is pretty close to the same stuff.

  16. Me again, I forgot to mention that it will freeze and restart again just fine. I had a starter in the fridge for about 6 months but it seemed to take a little longer to start – var so god.

  17. The culture used is just an extract from Butterwort plants (a type of insectivorous plant) which also has sores healing properties. So if you have a sore put some filmjölk on it!

  18. This brings back memories for me. My grandmother emmigrated to Wisconsin from Sweden. She came to live with us after she had a mild stroke. I remember a big bowl of “Filabunk” on the kitchen counter that my mother kept up with . We kids would eat big bowls of it for breakfast and mom would “feed” it to have a new batch in the morning. I can’t remember putting anything in it like fruit but also remember a tangy but not unpleasant taste to it. I’ve asked lots of folks about “filabunk” and noone had ever heard of it. Thanks for the posts. My mom is still around at age 97 1/2

  19. Love reading your comments. I am familiar with the item you refer to – our family of Swedish background called it “filabunk.” I am 64 years old and my Dad ate this when I was a young child. My grandma had 12 children and the kids all had the “starter.” It was not refrigerated to my knowledge. It was kept by the wood stove. I began looking these things up today because yesterday, my church had its annual “lutefish” dinner and in talking with my co-workers, we got on the topic of filabunk.

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