Flavourful, fine cheeses are known to have been produced in Finland already in the 13th century.
Modern Finnish cheeses owe their high quality to Finnish milk, which is the purest in the European Union.
Listed below are some of the more or less established brands of Finnish cheese, most of which have been produced for decades, mainly by major Finnish dairy companies.
Besides those, there are a multitude of other types of cheeses manufactured in Finland, ranging from Tilsit and Gruyère to Brie and Camembert, and from goat cheeses to mozzarella and feta (= "salad cheese").
Over the recent years, many tasty old cheese brands have unfortunately been discontinued and replaced by indifferent and bland, often low-fat cheese types, created to satisfy the crude, uncultivated taste of the average Finnish consumer.
Because of their unpredictable availability and supply, the products of minor cheese producers are not included on this page.
Various low-fat "cheeses" are omitted as well.
For information on exported Finnish cheeses, see the Finlandia Cheese homepage.
Read more about Finnish milk products here.
Read more about Finnish butter and fats here.
Emmentaler-type cheese has been manufactured in Finland since the year 1856, when the first batch of Emmental was cooked up by Swiss cheese master Rudolf Klossner at the Sippola Hovi manor.
Today, popular brands of Finnish Emmentaler cheeses are manufactured by Arla Ingman (previously Ingman Foods Group) and Valio Ltd,
which has been producing Emmental since 1909. Being one of Valio's biggest export items, its Emmental cheese has been awarded top marks in many international cheese contests.
Outside Finland, Valio's Emmental cheese may be found sold under the name Finlandia Swiss.
There are different types of Finnish Emmental cheeses available, their flavour and consistency depending on the degree of ripeness.
They are listed below, sorted from mildest to strongest:
Emmental Sinileima (lit. "Blue Label") is a mild, sweetish and aromatic Emmental cheese, matured for a minimum of three months.
The fat content of Sinileima Emmental varies from 29 to 30 %.
Emmental Punaleima (lit. "Red Label") is a medium-sharp Emmental cheese, matured for a minimum of six months.
The fat content of Punaleima Emmental varies from 29 to 30 %.
Emmental Mustaleima (lit. "Black Label") is a sharp, full-bodied cheese, matured for a minimum of nine to eighteen months. It has a strong and nutty, sweetish-salty flavour.
Tiny white amino acid crystals and water droplets called "tears of joy" are typically formed in the holes of the cheese.
The fat content of Mustaleima Emmental varies from 30 to 32 %.
Aura is a Finnish blue cheese named after the river Aura flowing through the old town of Turku, the former Finnish capital (1809 - 1812).
Initiated by Danish cheese master Maurits Rasmussen, Valio Ltd started to manufacture Aura cheese in 1935.
Outside Finland, Valio's Aura cheese may be found sold under the name Midnight Blue.
Made with cows' milk, Aura has a strong and piquant, fruity flavour and a creamy, crumbly consistency. It is matured for six weeks.
The fat content of Aura cheese is 29 %.
Aura Gold is a robust, full-bodied blue cheese matured for three months. It has a rich and aromatic, slightly more pronounced flavour than regular Aura.
The fat content of Aura Gold cheese is 29 %.
Other Finnish cheeses
Though once staples on Finnish cheese counters, most of the following cheeses are either no longer available here, or manufactured and imported from abroad. They are included here only for the sake of nostalgia (*sob*).
Kreivi (lit. "Count") Tilsit-type, strong and savoury cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1953.
Kesti (lit. "Banquet") Tilsit-type, strong and savoury cheese flavoured with caraway seeds.
Kappeli (lit. "Chapel") Romadur-type, strong and full-flavoured cheese.
Juhla (lit. "Feast") cheddar-type, aromatic and freshly tangy cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1954.
Korsholm Havarti-type, mild, creamy and slightly tangy cheese named after the Korsholm island municipality in western Finland.
Saaristojuusto (lit. "Archipelago Cheese") Bel Paese-type, delicately flavoured dessert cheese.
Ilves (lit. "Lynx") traditional Finnish fresh egg cheese broiled in oven. Ilves has a crumbly but firm, sliceable consistency.
Kasakka (lit. "Cossack") peppery cream cheese seasoned with a Georgian hot red pepper condiment, adjika. The cheese was originally produced by the now obsolete Co-operative Butter Export Association Enigheten.
Valio Ltd has started to produce a similar type of cheese under the brand name Mustapekka.
Luostari (lit. "Cloister") is a Finnish Port-Salut type cheese, manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1953.
It has a mild and savoury, slightly tangy flavour and a smooth, lacy texture. It is matured for a minimum of six weeks.
The fat content of Luostari cheese is 29 %.
Turunmaa is a Finnish Havarti-type cheese named after its birthplace, a district of the town of Turku in southwestern Finland,
where a similar type of cheese was been produced already in the 16th century.
Turunmaa has been manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1931.
Turunmaa has a smooth and lacy, creamy texture and a mild but full, slightly tangy flavour. It is matured for a minimum of seven weeks.
The fat content of Turunmaa cheese is 32 %.
Ritari (lit. "Knight") is a Finnish Havarti-type cheese similar to Turunmaa, but with a fuller, more aromatic flavour. It is matured for 10 months.
The fat content of Ritari cheese is 32 %.
Oltermanni (lit. "Alderman") is a Finnish Havarti-type cheese, manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1981.
Similar to Turunmaa cheese (see left), Oltermanni has a creamy, lacy texture and a mild and fresh, slightly tangy flavour.
It is matured for a minimum of 1 month.
Outside Finland, Oltermanni may be found sold under the name Baby Muenster (eg in the U.S.A.) or Finlandia Cheese (eg in Greece).
The fat content of Oltermanni cheese is 29 %.
Note: Havarti is a Danish-origin cheese type similar to Tilsit/Tilsiter cheese of Prussian-Swiss origin.
Salaneuvos (lit. "Privy Counsellor") is a Finnish Gouda-type cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1964.
It is matured for two months and has a mild and mellow, freshly tangy flavour and a firm, creamy consistency.
The fat content of Salaneuvos cheese is 28 %.
Finnish Edam cheese has a very mild, fresh flavour and a smooth and firm consistency.
In Finland, a popular brand of Edam has been manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1909.
Even though being the most popular cheese type consumed by the (most unadventurous) Finns, Finnish Edam is rather a bland, uninteresting cheese, not appreciated by the true cheese gourmet.
The fat content of various Finnish Edam cheeses varies between about 23 and 27 %.
Homemade fresh cheese
Finnish homemade fresh cheese is similar to the traditional fresh cheeses made in Finnish farmhouses in the old times.
Traditional Finnish fresh cheese has a soft and crumbly, sliceable consistency and a very mild and fresh, milky flavour.
It is highly perishable, and should be eaten within a couple of days after unwrapping.
The cheese may be eaten plain, sliced on sandwiches, added in salads or as a dessert with jam etc.
Kotijuusto (lit. "Homemade Cheese") is a type of Finnish fresh cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1953.
Perinteinen tuorejuusto (lit. "Traditional Fresh Cheese") is a type of Finnish fresh cheese manufactured by Arla Ingman (previously Ingman Foods Group).
The fat content of various Finnish fresh cheeses varies between about 8 and 14 %.
See a recipe for traditional Finnish baked egg cheese.
A traditional Finnish speciality, oven cheese is a type of fresh cheese pressed into a flat disk and broiled on the surface until nicely browned.
Oven cheese, called juustoleipä or leipäjuusto in Finnish, is manufactured by many Finnish cheese producers.
Read more about oven cheese here.
Basic Finnish cream cheese is made by enriching quark
with cream or butter to produce a desired fat content.
Viola Cream Cheese
Viola is a popular brand of Finnish cream cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd.
It is also the name of a popular processed cheese made for export only (see Viola Processed Cheese).
Previously, from 1953 up to 2006, Viola cream cheeses were sold under the brand name Hovi (lit. "Court").
Viola cream cheese is smooth and spreadable. Besides used as a spread, it may be widely used in cooking and baking, like in various stews, gratins, pies, soups, sauces and desserts.
Besides the regular cream cheese, Viola brand also includes several flavoured cream cheeses, as well as low-fat varieties.
Mustapekka cream cheeses
Mustapekka (lit. "Black Peter") is a brand of flavoured cream cheeses manufactured by Valio Ltd.
Mustapekka cheeses have a firm, sliceable consistency. There are currently four different flavour variations available:
- Mustapekka Mustapippuri (lit. "Black Peter Black pepper") is flavoured with paprika and coated with crushed black peppercorns. It has a strong, peppery taste.
In picture above: "Mustapekka Mustapippuri" cream cheese.
- Mustapekka Valkosipuli (lit. "Black Peter Garlic") is flavoured with garlic, paprika and black pepper, coated with garlic chips.
It has a strong and pungent taste of garlic.
In picture above: "Mustapekka Valkosipuli" cream cheese.
- Mustapekka Yrtti (lit. "Black Peter Herb") is flavoured with chives, parsley, basil, onion and garlic and coated with chopped green herbs.
- Mustapekka Makea chili (lit. "Black Peter Sweet chilli") is flavoured with chilli, paprika, garlic, ginger, sugar and vinegar and coated with sweet red chilli flakes.
The fat content of Mustapekka cheeses is 44 %.
Processed cheese is made of regular cheese mostly leftover scraps from cheese making by melting and mixing it with emulsifying salts and other additives to give it a smooth, homogeneous consistency.
Depending on the brand, the consistency of processed cheese may be soft and spreadable or firm and sliceable.
Koskenlaskija (lit. "Rapids Shooter") is a brand of processed cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd since the year 1933.
Firm and sliceable in consistency, Koskenlaskija is suitable to be used on sandwiches, in baking and to flavour sauces, soups, gratins etc.
Besides the original mild Koskenlaskija, there is also a stronger tasting strong Koskenlaskija made with eg Valio Black label Emmental cheese,
as well as spreadable Koskenlaskija, with a slightly higher fat content.
Flavoured Koskenlaskija include cheeses with cold-smoked reindeer, green peppercorn, onion & chives, and red bell pepper flavour.
The fat content of Koskenlaskija processed cheeses varies from 22 to 28 %, and they are all lactose-free.
Kippari (lit. "Skipper") is a brand of mild tasting, naturally smoked processed cheese manufactured by Valio Ltd.
Firm and creamy in consistency, Kippari is sold readily sliced.
The fat content of Kippari cheese is 26 %.
Viola Processed Cheese
The traditional, flavourful processed cheese Viola has been manufactured by Valio Ltd since 1934.
Since 2003 it has been made for export only, so it is no longer available in Finnish grocery stores.
In the 1950s, Viola was the first brand of processed cheese to be imported to Soviet Union, becoming hugely popular there. Even today, Viola is holding a historically strong position in the
Russian processed cheese segment.
In Finland, Valio's cream cheeses sold under the brand name Hovi (lit. "Court") since 1953, are now, somewhat confusingly, sold under the name Viola (see Viola Cream Cheese).
The fat content of Viola Processed Cheese sold in Russia is 29 %.
Read about Finnish quark here.
Read about Finnish cottage cheese here.