Viili (write viili and not villi, because in the Finnish language villi means wild!) is the Finnish version of viscous fermented milk, although its origins lie in Sweden, where in fact the viili making tradition is disappearing. The name “viili” originates from the Swedish language where it is a general word for mesophilic fermented milks: fil. Viili was historically made on farms in large wooden buckets, but families have also made them in their homes. Viili culture was sold by such families on the Helsinki market square in the 1920s, before dairy companies began selling it in their shops. Industrial manufacturing of viili began in Finland in the 1950s. Since then viili has grown into an important commersial product in the country, where its annual consumption stands at more than 4.5 kg/capita. Not many people make it at home anymore.
Viili (Finnish viili, Swedish filbunke) is a type of mesophilic fermented milk that originates in the Nordic countries. It has a ropey, gelatinous consistency and a pleasantly mild taste resulting from lactic acid. This cultured milk product is the results of microbial action of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and a surface-growing yeast-like fungus mold, Geotrichum candidum, present in milk which forms a velvet-like surface on viili. In addition, most traditional viili cultures also contain yeast strains such as Kluveromyces marxianus and Pichia fermentans (Never in industrially produced cultures where these are considered to be contaminants!!)
(Aren’t they beautiful!!!)
Among those mesophilic LAB strains, the slime-forming Lc. lactis subsp. cremoris produce a phosphate-containing heteropolysaccharide, named viilian. Viilian is similar to kefiran produced by kefir grains. The production of exopolysaccharides (EPS) by the strain forms the consistency character of viili and it has been claimed to have various functional benefits toward the rheological properties (flow) of milk products and has health improving potential.
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