Honestly, I should have learned something about Sweden.
That is, I should now be master of the dairy section of a grocery store. Because I failed that, I am crawling back to become the master of the milk section of the Swedish grocery store. Folks, take heed, learning the different types of milk (mjölk på svenska) takes a highly skilled, milk loving ninja to figure it out. And so, I tried.
Just at the Coop (one of the local grocery stores), I counted 20 different milk-esque items (including different fat levels of the same type). Yes, madness. Bear with me as I try to explain all the pretty cartons of milk varietals.
Regular milks comes in 1 liter cartons or 1.5 liter cartons. Easy to fit in the fridge, but a bitch to keep fresh. I noticed, once opened, this milk stays good for 5-6 days. But hey, they are recyclable, easy to break down, and stores neatly in the fridge. Just use a chip clip to keep it closed tight once the carton is open.
Milk also comes in different color boxes, in case you are lazy, just know the color.
Mjölk – The Red Box – The all
american Swedish milk. It’s the regular milk at 3% fat.
Mellanmjölk – The Green Box – Slightly lower fat at 1.5% and literally means “middle milk”
Lättmjölk – The Blue Box – We would call this skim milk at .5% fat.
Minimjolk – The Yellow Box – Almost fat free milk at .1%.
Gammaldagsmjölk – “Old time milk” which is to say, this milk is pasteurized but not homogenized, which means the fat floats to the surface and you have to give it a good shake. (Thanks Melissa for this) Raw milk is pretty delicious stuff and slightly higher in fat than regular 3% milk.
Latte Art – As you can guess, this milk (in cartons that are blue or brown) is used to make lattes and hot drinks. Definitely worth it if you love lattes and hot chocolates.
Important Note: Emma pointed out that the colors don’t correspond to regional milks, like Skåne milk. The colors listed above are for the company Arla.
Matlagninsgrädde – Orange container – Light cream, ie. half and half in the US, that is 15% fat.
Vispgrädde – Red container – Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream that is 36% fat.
The Filmjölk Family
The wonder of Wikipedia is awesome yet again. I’ll summarize what they say though.
Fil is like yogurt but less thick and a bit less sour. Fil is a major part of Nordic dairy culture, not just Sweden. But they all basically taste the same some more fatty, some with flavors, some plain. People eat fil with musli, very tasty stuff. But some folks have filmjölk with knäckebröd or just with jam. Up to you.
a-fil– Comes unflavored and flavored and anywhere from 0.5-3% fat. The “A” comes from lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic bateria. It’s advertised as a more digestive friendly fil.
Långfil– Has a slightly elastic feel to it because of the Lactococcus bacteria. This fil comes only as unflavored and in 3% fat.
Aktivfil– Has active cultures in the fil.
Filmjölk – The standard fil that comes flavored and unflavored. This fil ranges from 2.5-3% in fat.
Mellanfil – Middle fil as you can call it. Comes only in unflavored version and is 1.5% fat.
Lättfil – Light fil that is .5% fat and comes in a variety of flavors. There is blåbär/hallon (blueberry/raspberry), persika/hallon (peach/raspberry), jordgubb (strawberry), smultron/jordgubb/vinbär, and lime/banana (umm, strangest combination).
Onaka – Made with bacteria that is supposedly popular in Japan, which never made any sense to me since the Japanese didn’t really drink dairy until recently.
Thanks to Melissa of HuntGatherLove for some of these updates.
Kefir – Eastern-style fil, popular in Russia. There’s a similar style fil in Iceland called Skyr. It is truly delicious goodness.
Fjäll – This is not fil, it is a thin rich yogurt. Hjortron (cloudberry) is supposedly delightful.
Hälsofil – Literally ‘healthy fil.’ It’s been approved by the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency since this fil helps with immune and digestive systems.
And for kicks…
On your next visit to the grocery store with your recyclable plastic bag, experiment with some crazy milk or fil.