FreshDirect is an online grocer in New York City. It serves one of the more expensive places in the world. A pound chevre — goat cheese – sells on FreshDirect for $24.99 a pound. Pricey? Definitely, given that many other types of cheese can be found for a few dollars per pound, a fraction of the price. But chevre is downright plebian compared to a rare kind of cheese which, if you want to try, likely requires a trip to Sweden.
That cheese? It’s moose cheese.
Moose cheese is made only at one dairy farm in Bjurholm, Sweden, a small locality in northern part of the country with fewer than 1,000 people calling it home. Two of those people, Christer and Ulla Johansson, own Moose Farm, a 59 acre expanse which, according to a 2004 article from CNN, is home to three moose cows, Gullen, Helgae, and Juna. Moose Farm is one of the few places on the planet where moose are milked for commercial purposes. While there are a few commercial moose milk farms in Russia, Bjurholm’s is the only known place where moose milk is turned into cheese.
The cheese is incredibly expensive, selling for $500 a pound — twenty times more than the above-cited chevre. The main reason for the high price tag is the incredible difficulty in procuring the milk in the first place. First, moose only lactate for three to five months a year, typically from May to September, coinciding with when they give birth and are in heat. Further, according to the Phoenix New Times, the moose dry up when startled, so the two-hour long milking process must be done in near-silence. And even then, the moose only yield about a gallon of milk daily. Finally, the high protein content in the milk makes the curdling process hard, because the cheese tends to harden quickly.
In total, the Johanssons are able to make about six hundred pounds of moose cheese a year. Transporting it is difficult, so they only sell it to local restaurants and hotels, and to the 25,000 tourists who visit the farm each year. So if you want to try some, you may want to look into a Swedish vacation in the future.
Bonus fact: According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin dairy farmers produce 2.6 billion pounds of cheese annually. There are about 1.25 million cows used to produce that cheese; each cow, on average, produces over 20,000 pounds of milk each year — more than ten times its weight.
From the Archives: Mice Don’t Like Cheese: Really, they don’t.
Related: Four Continents of Cheese on a Budget. Doesn’t include moose cheese, unfortunately.
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