Viili is a fermented dairy product from Finland that you can easily prepare at home from fresh or dried starter. And I’ll show you how.
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What is Viili
Viili, is a dairy delicacy of the consistency somewhere between jogurt and kefir and tastewise like softer and less acid yogurt. This culture is typical in Scandinavia, especially Finland. It’s not yogurt because it doesn’t contain the required yogurt bacteria but is contains other beneficial bacteria.
You can eat it plain without anything else just like you eat other dairy products. Or you can add fruit, honey, cacao…or add Viili into your recipes like mixing it with the cheese in these Cacao-banana Squares.
You might be surprised not just by its delicious taste but also by the texture – if you don’t mix or blend your Viili, it will be very viscose, “long”. When you scoop it with a spoon, it will try to escape it and go back into the jar. It reminds me of the slime children like to play with nowadays.
Why to cultivate Viili
Just like other fermented dairy products Vilii too is beneficial for your health. I bet you’ve heard more than once about the health benefits of the bacillus in the fermented dairy.
Another reason why you should make Viili at home is how easy it is to make. If you like to make as much of your food as you can at home, this is one of the easiest ones to make and to keep.
Last but not least, we mustn’t forget the taste. Just slightly acid, smooth…Viili is a great replacement for both yogurt and kefir.
How to cultivate Viili
It is very very simple, you just need a little bit of fresh or dried Viili. If you’re not lucky to know someone who has it, just purchase it online.
If you get a little bit of fresh culture, you just cultivate it in milk. If you have a dried starter, you need to “get it started” first. Here’s how to do both things:
From dried starter
Put about 3 tbsp of lukewarm milk into a bowl and mix in 1/4 tsp of dried Viili. No need to wait for it to dissolve, cover the bowl and you can walk away for about one hour.
Then mix again and you can use the spoon to kind of press any remaining pieces against the wall of the bowl to make them dissolve. Prepare a clean glass jar (I sterilize it with hot water) and put in about 200 ml of milk that you’ve heated to 18 – 25 °C. Add the mixture from the bowl to the milk and stir well. The jar should stay at the indicated temperature for about 12 hours. Come back to the jar a few times in this half day and stir again.
After this time the mixture should start becoming dense. If not, wait another 12 hours. After this time the mixture still doesn’t need to be totally dense but there should be at least few dense pieces floating in the milk. Collect them and follow the steps for making Viili from fresh starter.
My experience: Sometimes I rush the Villi because I don’t want to wait. I leave the starter in the milk for one hour but after placing it in the large jar I place it in a preheated over (just a little bit over the room temperature). This way the Viili works faster. Sometimes it curdles a little but it still tastes great and it works just fine as a fresh starter.
From fresh starter
It’s a little less work with fresh starter. Prepare a clean jar and some milk. This time you start with a larger amount of milk. For half a liter of milk you need only about 1 teaspoon of fresh starter.
Heat the milk to 18 – 25 °C, put it in the jar and add one teaspoon of starter. Stir well. Close the jar and let it rest at room temperature stirring it occasionally. Your Viili will be ready in 12 hours or maybe less. Stir very properly, distribution matters here. Instead of stirring it during these 12 hours, I gently shake the jar.
How to keep your Viili
Once Viili is done, put about 1 tsp per future half a liter of milk into a separate jar and store it in your fridge. This is the part that you’ll use to cultivate more Viili.
Of you can wait until most of the current batch is eaten and then use the rest but there will be more contamination from repeatedly opening the jar, dipping a spoon in it etc.
The general recommendation is to cultivate Viili twice a weak to keep the culture alive, however, I sometimes go two or two and half weeks without making it and it was just fine.
Use just small amount to make new batches, about one teaspoon for half a liter. More doesn’t mean faster or better. If you use too much, there won’t be enough milk for the bacteria to feed on and your Viili won’t make.
What type of milk to use
Your milk needs to be pasteurized because unpasteurized milk has lots of other bacteria that will overpower Viili. If pasteurized, you can use both fresh and UHT milk, the latter just not for dried starter.
As for the fat content, use full-fat milk as there’s more for the bacteria to feed on and the resulting taste will be so much better than with less fatty milk.
How to dry Viili
You can keep some dried Viili in dark and cold or even in the freezer. To dry it, you just need to smear it in a very thin layer over a silicon or plastic surface or a piece of baking paper and place it in the oven or food dehydrator. It will take much longer in the oven as you have to dry it at a low temperature so I recommend the dehydrator.
A Tip at the End
If you don’t like the consistency of the Viili, you can blend it with a stick blender or pass it through a sieve. Then it will have the consistency of a yogurt drink.