Finland – a nation in love with milk

Yesterday I arrived to my parents’ place in Tampere, ready to spend some days without doing anything. Well, anything I don’t feel like doing.

Anyway, being at the parents’ place means that the fridge is always full of good stuff. When I open the door, which I do here a lot, it’s a very different experience than at home as to the variety and quality – my mom is an excellent cook and when the daughter is home so they make sure there’s everything I could ever desire. And I sure enjoy it!

Last evening I accompanied them to do the shopping for the weekend in a huge supermarket called Citymarket. Normally me and my boyfriend do our shopping in a small Alepa or K-supermarket next to our home, so it’s an eye-opening experience to go to these huge places and realize the choice they have – of everything. And in Finland the variety is still quite limited compared to many other countries. Especially in US I always get overwhelmed by the selection of all the products from cheese to sweets. It makes me immediately think do we really need all this stuff? Of course we don’t.

Anyway, this time I focused on the  variety of milk products – Finns love milk and consume a lot of yogurt, “piimä” (kind of sour milk) and “rahka” (kind of quark). Milk is a typical drink for anything: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, salty, sweet… The speciality of Tampere is a creative combination of “mustamakkara” (blood sausage) with lingonberry jam and a glass of milk. Quite a surprise to my Spanish boyfriend! All in all, I would say milk is our national drink, though younger generations are not so much into it.


Mustamakkara, the typical dish in Tampere, with lingonberry jam and milk. Here’s also the dessert – a doughnut.

Another thing is that there are as many tastes as there are kinds of milk. Today my parents’ fridge contains 5 different milk packs – all three of us have our milk + some extras. And this is nothing if you think of all the milks you can find in a normal Finnish supermarket.

Moreover, there’s a huge number of Finns who can’t intake milk lactose – for example myself. There’s even a joke that you know when you’ve lived too long in Finland when you become lactose-intolerant. So now they have all the milk products also with little (“hyla” or no lactose (“laktoositon”) And so the variety grows.


My mom likes her milk semi-skimmed and “hyla” – with only little lactose, as she is a bit lactose-intolerant.


My boyfriend wants his milk semi-skimmed and normal – as he’s Spanish, no lactose-intolerance involved.


Today I like soy milk the best even if I drink skimmed low-lactose milk too. Depends of the moment…


My father drinks normal skimmed milk – he’s not lactose-intolerant but on a diet.


My brother wants to have his coffee with normal full-fat milk.


Extras: sour milk – another speciality that is very good and healthy containing a lot of good bacteria.


My favourite yoghurt – I like it simple, without any artificial taste.


… and this is the yoghurt of my boyfriend. Danone Strawberry with lots of sugar and stuff.


Quark – another milk product. I love the sour taste and the fact that it contains so much protein.


My mom’s favourite. “Viili” is a type of yogurt (a mesophilic fermented milk) that originated in the Nordic countries”, Wikipedia tells.

Actually last year the milk consumption of the Finns went a bit down, as every Finn drank about 129 litres of milk in a year. Still it seems a lot, as not everyone drinks milk at all. Also ice cream was eaten a bit less last year – and Finland is the nation which most ice cream enjoyes in the world! Even if you wouldn’t believe it, as we have are surrounded by ice and snow most of the time  and eating something cold on top of that might not seem wise.

Yoghurt consumption is on the rise, too. Last year every Finn ate 24 kilos of yoghurt. Personally I love natural yoghurt and eat it every morning for breakfast with fruit and seeds.

Anyway, as there’s a very strong low-carb fashion in Finland right now, we consume more and more fat milk and butter (instead of margarine). Also cheese and quark are getting more popular. So I guess we’ll continue heavy consumers of all the white material coming out of a cow – and it’s derivations full of calcium and protein. Not that bad a habit, I guess, even if my vegan friends think it’s crazy to eat “cow’s food”. But even they love soy milk, rice milk, oat milk or coconut milk…

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5 thoughts on “Finland – a nation in love with milk

  1. Msanhle says:

    How nice that you listed all kind of milk products 🙂 I can just drink milk and eat yogurt. For other things like pimä or maitorahka I really cannot take because the taste is so awkward for me :p Well viili is ok but I cant eat that regularly… How bout riisijuoma? Oh gosh how can Nordic people come up with so many things 🙂

    PS: I didn’t ever try mustamakkara… Hmm wondering how it tastes

    • annsofia says:

      Yes, it’s amazing how many variations of milk products we have in Finland – and people really drink milk with all kinds of food, especially the elder generations. 🙂

      For me, I like most milk products but many foreign friends think that especially piimä tastes a bit strange…

      Mustamakkara is nice. It’s made by mixing pork, pig blood, crushed rye and flour, after which it is stuffed into the intestines of an animal like most sausages… tells Wikipedia. Uff, reading about the process might not wake up your appetite… but it’s nice. 😉

  2. SarahBellzz says:

    Moi Annsofia!!
    I couldn’t find this entry when I needed it the most – Standing in Alepa trying to figure out what was regular, non-skimmed coffee creamer and regular strawberry yogurt. I also was at a complete loss to somehow let you know that I was in Helsinki from 12/27-1/3 so we could say hello!
    Absolutely loved it, can’t wait to get back there, and an idea…. How come you can’t see the stars at night (at least in Kamppi, where I was).

    P.S- DYING for a Hesburger!!!!

    • annsofia says:

      Hello Sarah!

      Sorry for such a slow answer, I’ve been on a (too long) blogging break for my new job, traveling etc. But now I’m back and full of ideas!

      I can imagine you had problems in Alepa trying to find the right milk product, not easy even for a Finn. Would have been great to say hi, let me know when you’re here the next time – hopefully soon!

      About the stars, I live in Kamppi too, where the city lights hide most of the stars in the winter – or the grey skies, of course… And in the summer the “problem” is that there really isn’t night! Even if now in August it’s getting quite dark already.

      All the best, and please come back for a hesburger! 😉


  3. Nancy Friday says:

    Milk, by itself, somehow saved lives. This is odd, because milk is just food, just one source of nutrients and calories among many others. It’s not medicine. But there was a time in human history when our diet and environment conspired to create conditions that mimicked those of a disease epidemic. Milk, in such circumstances, may well have performed the function of a life-saving drug.^

    Stop by our web blog as well

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