It Takes a Viili

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Viili (spelled with two i’s) is cultured milk– a Finnish version of yogurt. Some drink it, but it is more commonly eaten like yogurt, with jams, muesli or bread mixed in. It’s milder tasting and stringier than yogurt, but still contains loads of helpful lactic acid bacteria. I felt privileged when my good friend Niina (spelled with two i’s) recently brought me a viili culture from her mother (who is Finnish).finnflag

Adding living cultures to pasteurized dairy “adds enzymes and restores nutrients” that are zapped by the pasteurization and homogenization processes. Since raw dairy is neither easily had, within everyone’s budget, nor even legal everywhere (yet), culturing is a great way to add nutrients back to an otherwise overly-processed food.

Did you know that cultured dairy is more digestible than normal pasteurized milk products (including fresh cheeses), and can even be eaten by most lactose-intolerant people? Why? Because during fermentation, the bacteria consume most of the lactose, converting it to lactic acid. And they break down another protein, casein, into more useful amino acids that our bodies can use.


Viili (Scandinavian yogurt)
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 1 pint
  • 15 oz./450ml pasteurized (or raw) milk
  • 1 Tbsp./20ml viili from previous batch
  1. In a clean pint-sized mason jar, add milk and stir in viili starter.
  2. Cover with metal lid (but not ring) so it sits loosely on top.
  3. Leave out at room temperature for 24 hours. DO NOT DISTURB as it can affect the texture.
  4. Cover with ring and refrigerate 24-48 hours (it will continue to develop flavor) before enjoying!
  5. REMEMBER to reserve at least a tablespoon from the jar so you can make your next batch.


Confusion over Viili, surmjölk, Filmjölk, and Piimä

There appears to be some confusion over the various cultured dairy products from Scandinavia, as some wily and passionate folks have pointed out. I shall try to clarify based on their suggestions and a little research:

finnflagViili- a Finnish name for cultured milk (yogurt)

swedenflagFilmjölk (sometimes called Fil)- the Swedish name for several varieties of cultured milk Source 1  Source 2

finnflagPiimäFinnish for buttermilk; NOT the same thing as viili. A Piimä Milk recipe is used as a “mother” recipe for many other cultured dairy recipes in the indispensable Nourishing Traditions cookbook (page 83).

swedenflagSurmjölk- the Swedish word for buttermilk



Move over, yogurt! You’ve got a new shelf-mate in the fridge… viili! One more thing. Ii thiink Ii’m goiing to start spelliing everythiing with two i‘s. 🙂