The dairy maid’s mysterious recipe

It was dairy maid Ulrika Eleonora Lindström who in 1872 created the recipe which is the basis for the Västerbottensost that we still eat today. Her mysterious recipe is a well-kept secret that only a few people are privy to.

When Ulrika Eleonora Lindström was in her 30s she inherited 500 Swedish crowns that she used for an education at the dairy school in Degeberga near Lidköping in Västergötland. She learned how to make Västgötaost cheese there, and in 1869 she took that knowledge with her to the newly-opened Gammelbyn dairy. Ulrika Eleonora started as a maid, but after three years she took charge of the dairy in the role of a recognised skilled dairy maid.

Gammelbyns mejeri
The Old Town dairy

“No one knows exactly what happened on that fateful day in 1872”

No one knows exactly what happened on that fateful day in 1872 when the recipe for Västerbottensost came into being. It is said that it was the distraction of an attentive dairy hand that led to Ulrika Eleonora’s failure to pay proper attention to the curdling vat. At first the cheese was considered a failure, but when it was tried, the unique taste was discovered. The validity of that story aside, it was skilled dairy maid Ulrika Eleonora who took advantage of this new knowledge and handed it down to posterity with her famous and well-preserved recipe.

Norets mejeri, omkring 1931
Noret’s dairy, ca. 1931

Ulrika Eleonora died on 15 February 1892 aged 56 from pneumonia. She documented her work in great detail throughout her entire career. Along with the recipe, the production of Västerbottensost has been handed down from dairy maid to dairy maid and from master cheese-maker to master cheese-maker.

Gerda Granberg, Hössjö mejeri
Gerda Granberg, Hössjö

There is no definitive picture of Ulrika Eleonora, but the image above is a typical depiction of a dairy maid from the same era. The dairy maid in the picture is named Gerda Granberg, who was one of the few entrusted with inheriting the mythical recipe from Ulrika Eleonora. Gerda was born in Burträsk in 1896, to Anton and Ida Sundquist. She trained as a dairy maid in Flarken and was soon employed at the dairy in Hössjö, which was during this period one of many dairies that manufactured Västerbottensost®. There she met her husband-to-be Carl Johan Granberg, with whom she soon entered into marriage. In 1941 the family grew with the “war baby” Lassi Fordell, who was later given up for adoption. Gerda passed away on 4 December 1986.

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