Almnäs Brick (Almnäs Tegel) is a hard-pressed “scalded” cheese, its square shape inspired by the handmade bricks manufactured by the Almnäs brick factory from the 1750’s onwards.
On the rind, you can see the imprint of a small child’s foot, a historical reference to real footprints found in the brick floor in the attic of the manor house. Hundreds of years ago as the bricks dried in the sun, the farm workers’ children ran over them, leaving their footprints. Since then, a child’s footprint has been imprinted on every clay brick manufactured at Almnas. Brick production ended in 1976, but we continue the tradition today: the same logo is imprinted in the rind of every Almnäs Brick cheese.
Each cheese weighs between 26 and 27 kilograms (57 and 59 pounds) and measures 52 x 45 centimeters (20 by 18 inches). The rind is a rustic, brick red, achieved by washing the cheese in salt water. This process benefits a bacterial culture called Brevibacterium linens, which provides the reddish colour.
The cut surface of the cheese is smooth, showing occasional small holes and cracks. The cheese colour ranges from ivory to straw, depending on the season. Almnäs Brick has a sweet, fruity aroma, reminiscent of butterscotch. The rind sometimes smells of orange or pineapple. The taste is fruity, with a slightly gritty mouth-feel. We store the Almnäs Brick between 18 and 30 months.
Scalded cheeses are unusual in traditional Swedish cheese making. At the end of the cheese-making process, we scald the curds by increasing the temperature to more than 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). This gives the cheese a caramelized effect and promotes the Thermophile bacteria, which is also found in yogurt. Parmesan and many of the big cheeses from the Swiss Alps, such as Gruyere, are produced according to this method.
Closely linked to Almnäs’ earliest history, Anno 1225 is a medieval-type cheese, crafted and aged using centuries-old techniques.
The cheese mold is made from a basket of braided wicker produced by the Latvian master basket maker, Astrida Smilktene. It is an accurate reproduction of the baskets made locally hundreds of years ago, some of which are on display in our regional museum in Skara, Västergötland.
At the Birmingham, England World Cheese Awards in November 2012, Anno 1225 received a Gold Award, of which we are very proud. It’s an interesting coincidence that during a summer internship at Almnäs, Astrida’s grandson, Janis, helped to make the batch of Anno 1225 that won the award.
Unlike our other cheeses, Anno 1225 is not washed with salt water. It is aged in its own storage facility, where the local fungi and yeast cultures can establish themselves freely on the surface. After a few weeks, the rind is covered with a natural mold and the only thing we do is to turn the cheese every three days. In this way, after 5 to 7 months of storage we get a cheese that is completely influenced by our local fauna. Each Anno 1225 weighs 3 to 4 kilograms (7 to 9 pounds).
As Anno 1225 settles down into its basket, it’s weight slowly imprints the traditional braided wicker patterns into the rind. Anno 1225 offers a slightly acidic, damp-earth smell, reminiscent of cellars and mushrooms, a subtle contrast to the tangy, fresh, light and creamy taste. The rind is edible, adding a complexity to the taste experience characterized by a slight bitterness and a drier mouth-feel.