By Lois Wiirre

Special to the Dispatch

Imagine for one moment, you have just sailed across the Atlantic ocean from Finland, so happy to see land again. The woman of the family is carrying a small patch of cloth with a teaspoon of “viili”  in her satchel. Going through customs will be the test, she holds her breath and hopes to not to be found out. 

The waiting relatives that have come to take them to their new life in America. I wonder how many times this was repeated over the years of the great migration of Finns from 1860 – 1930s. And so over the years they had new ‘seeds’ of Viili or Piima.

We would call them culture starters. If you’re lucky enough to recieve a ‘seed’ you can ferment and make it at room temperature again and again. As long as you keep a seed, you can do this indefinitely.  In Finland today if one wanted to keep a seed for friends or family, they take wax paper and smear a small amount on the wax paper and let it dry throughly, then put the flakes in a airtight jar or freeze it.  Finns are very serious about their viili. It is eaten every morning over oatmeal or with fresh fruit. 

Sugar is considered a big no-no.  If you have been lucky enough to recieve a seed you will see a white stretchiness and a bit of sourness to it. Either you love it or dislike it.  You can find seeds in and around small Finnish areas, you just have to ask around. 

‘till we meet in the kitchen again, the coffee is on… Lois


 • 1 pint of whole milk

 • 1 Teaspoon of dehydrated Viili starter or 1-2 Tablespoon of a ‘seed’


To make Viili:

Combine the viili starter with the whole milk in a quart mason jar. Mix well then cover with a square of cheesecloth to allow it to breath at room temperature for 8-10 hours or when it is firm but jiggly. 

Transfer a portion in a dessert dish and top with fresh fruit or a few teaspoons  on your favorite cereal. 

You can be brave and drink a juice glass full.

Remember to save a tablespoon of viili to start a new batch.