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.

A fantastic picture from viilitrading in Helsinki market square in the 1930’s. Hjalmar Ingman selling viili from his boat in wooden barrels.

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!!)

The LAB identified in viili including Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris 

Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis 

Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris 

(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.

Adapted end edited version of wikipediadefinitiona


5 thoughts on “WHAT IS VIILI?

    • Hi.
      Glad you like the site.
      Well, the culture I used for this project was from http://www.kefirshop.co.uk. That is the culture I ended up using for the project in Finland, although I really wanted to find an old original culture still cultivated there but unfortunately the only one I found was by GEM in the US and it is difficult to send culture from the US unless you do it illegally (ironically).

      But, as you may know, the real magic in any fermented milk product, and especially in the mesophilic ones i believe, is the quality of your milk. In Finland I made the most wonderful viili I have ever tasted from fantastic organic milk from grazing cows and straight from the cow – no pasteurization or homogenization. And not too much culture – just a smear inside the bowls.
      Try it and let me know how it goes and I can add you to this blog:)


  1. Hi Eva! Do you still with your project about viili? I’m starting one, I’m very excited about viilian world, I’m glad I found here some informations. Can you send me your e-mail to change ideas about this topic?

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