Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World. Piimä (Finland)
Foods that are preserved through fermentation are rather famous in the Nordic countries, just like Finland, where food, especially scarce during the long and cold winters, had to be made to last in the best way possible. Piimä, which is a type of liquid, drinkable yogurt, is one of these foods. This product has a very thin consistency, so it can be easily served out of a glass. With a mild and nutty flavor that is very pleasant, piimä is much appreciated, especially in the warm summer months, when it is consumed as it is or with a pinch of salt. But it can also be used as a salad dressing, as an option for breakfast when served with granola, cereal, or fruits, or it can be drained in order to obtain a thicker consistency that can be used as a spread for bread slices.
Because it is a recipe of fermented milk developed in Scandinavia, piimä can easily ferment at room temperature, which means that you can obtain it at lower temperatures than are usually required for the making of other types of yogurt. Thus, mesophilic cultures are used for the making of piimä, which means that the cultures will get activated even by lower temperatures, but it can also be made by using cream, if you prefer a thicker consistency, as you will obtain a product that resembles with sour cream. So, because the starter cultures are not picky when it comes to temperature, if there the temperature in the room is between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the culture will do its job in starting the milk’s fermentation. You can also use a bit of your previously made batch of piimä to start a new one, although in this case it is recommended to use piimä that is as fresh as possible. After culturing the milk, preferably in a glass container, the milk has to be covered with a lid made out of paper or cloth, to allow the gases generated by the fermentation process to get out. Leave the container in a warm place, which has the temperatures mentioned earlier, for 12 to 18 hours. The time depends on the room’s temperature, as it will take longer for the culture to do its job if the temperature is lower. If you plan on leaving the milk to ferment overnight, do have the temperature in mind. If it is going to drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, then you should find a warmer spot to place the container with the cultured milk.
Piimä is ready when the cultured milk thickened enough so that it looks like a compact mass that comes off the container’s wall. Before you eat the newly created piimä, it is recommended to stabilize the culture and keep the bacteria healthy by allowing the yogurt to rest in the fridge for 6 hours. After this, you can consume piimä as you like. Also, you can keep a small quantity to start a new batch of yogurt. You will need one tablespoon of piimä to culture one cup of milk. So, if you have these proportions in mind, you’ll be able to prepare piimä continuously, as a cup of piimä contains reusable cultures.