My visit to Slettastølen Seter introduced me to the Norwegian Seter Life, or mountain farm life. Sonja treated me to a banquet of homemade delights with various cheeses (including her recipe for farm cheese), fruit jams, and her homemade rømmegrøt made from her own sour cream using her cow’s milk.
There’s nothing quite like homemade sour cream. There’s a certain softness to it that is unlike any store-bought sour cream. It’s smooth and not as thick. It’s very enjoyable and it makes for the best rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) you could ever have.
Sonja’s rømmegrøt is by far the best I have ever tasted and I believe it is because of the quality of her rømme (sour cream). She uses raw milk that she has milked from her dairy cows. The cows graze among the mountain pastures all summer long, making the milk taste even better. She separates the cream from the milk, then adds in her starter of sour cream from a previous batch and lets it sit overnight until it has reached the desired sourness. It’s a simple process and one that Sonja repeats throughout the summer, which sustains her family and guests.
Rømmegrøt is traditionally a summer dish. There are three traditional summer holidays, Sankthans (23 & 24 June), Olsok (29 July) and Barsok (24 August), which are associated with the serving of rømmegrøt. When friends and family once gathered for these summer feasts, rømmegrøt became the highlight of the menu, for it is possible that during this time the milk was at its best as the cows grazed in the abundance of summer’s grass. Also, the summer weather would most certainly cause fresh milk to curdle, making it convenient to make porridge for large groups when they had plenty. Rømmegrøt is also associated with other celebrations and is traditionally served at weddings, confirmations, a birth of a baby and during Christmas.
Rømmegrøt is a simple dish to make at home. And while you may not have your own cows to get fresh, raw milk from, I highly recommend contacting local farmers in your area. The taste of homemade sour cream far surpasses anything store bought and will bring a much more creamy and flavorful addition to any dish.
Homemade Rømme / Sour Cream
- Raw milk
- Clean, glass jar
In order to get proper sour cream, you will need to use raw milk. You cannot use pasteurized milk of any kind or it will turn rancid, not sour, and can make you very ill. I suggest contacting local farmers to find out how you can access raw milk.
That being said, homemade sour cream is quite simple. Taking your raw milk, you will see the cream separates naturally from the milk (there will be a slight color change and two layers). The cream rises to the surface, while the milk sits on the bottom.
With a spoon, take the cream off the milk and place it in a clean jar. Don’t worry if you get some milk with the cream, it will naturally separate during the process. Place a lid on top, slightly ajar. Leave to sit out at room temperature for about 24-48 hours. The time it takes to sour depends on the temperature, since cream will sour faster on warmer days. Check the sour cream to make sure it has soured and thickened up a bit – it will not be as thick as store bought sour cream because they add in gelatin and thickeners.
When it has soured, place it in the refrigerator and consume within 4-5 days.
*Once you have made sour cream from raw milk, you can always take about ½ cup of sour cream from your previous batch with 1 quart of raw cream and mix them (shake them) together in a glass jar with a lid on top. Leave the jar to sit out, with the lid on, for 12-24 hours or until the desired sourness is achieved. Then refrigerate.
- 4 1/4 cups (1 litre) rømme / whole milk sour cream (35% fat content)
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (200 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 1/4 cups (1 litre) whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- Cinnamon and sugar, for serving
Over medium heat cook the sour cream and stir continuously, around 15 minutes. Add half of the flour and stir vigorously until well blended. Allow the mixture to come to a slow simmer. Butter/fat from the sour cream will begin to appear on top. With a spoon, remove the butter and place in a small bowl to be used later when the rømmegrøt is served. When you have removed the butter, add in the rest of the flour and cook a bit longer, stirring vigorously. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir so there are no lumps. Allow it to cook a few minutes longer until smooth and creamy and add in a pinch of salt.
Serve warm and top with cinnamon, sugar and the reserved butter. You can also top with cured meats, such as fenelår.
*For those outside of Norway, finding a sour cream with a high enough percentage of fat can be quite difficult, and they also tend to be full of gelatin and thickeners. That is why I have included a recipe for homemade sour cream using raw milk. If this is not an option, it is possible to make sour cream using heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized) and buttermilk. You can also add butter to the sour cream while you are making rømmegrøt since low fat sour cream will not yield the natural fat which I have described above in the directions. There are many alternatives out there, but just remember to have a high enough fat content to get that perfect Norwegian bowl of sour cream goodness.