Swedish Cheese and Butter Served at Michelin Star Restaurants—How Löt Gårdsmejeri Has Put Swedish Dairy Products on the Map

Löt Gårdsmejeri is a small goat farm, dairy, and cheesery in Sweden. The farm itself looks a bit like a farm from “Alla vi barn i Bullerbyn” (an Astrid Lindgren story), and doesn’t particularly strike you as a big deal.

But it is.

Swedish cheese and butter from Löt are being served at Michelin star restaurants as well gourmet pubs and taverns. For example both NOMA in Denmark and Zén in Singapore serve products from Löt—both restaurants have been awarded three Michelin stars.

This little dairy is making waves, and yet it’s a small place with just over 100 goats. So how has it ended up on the world map?

We asked one of the owners, Erik Garberg, how they’re able to produce world-class products at a small farm and what it’s like running a small farm and dairy in Sweden.

Löt gårdsmejeri—a charming little Swedish farm and dairy. 

A Norwegian Making Cheese in Sweden

Erik grew up on a farm close to Trondheim in Norway and helped out at various farms owned by friends and relatives growing up. He also helped the neighbors with their cheesemaking. Everything was done “the old fashioned way.” That didn’t just mean using older techniques for cheesemaking, but also ensuring there was no waste. Because back in the day, you simply couldn’t afford waste. And given the state our planet is in now, you could probably say that we can’t afford waste now either!

Erik went on to train as a “husdjursagronom” (an animal husbandry specialist). He also trained as a dairy technician at Örland Dairy School (it does not exist anymore) a part of Dalum, in Odense, Denmark (the only school in the Nordics to provide such an education).

Ever since he graduated, Erik’s been a sought out adviser and has also held  down various positions within dairy companies in the Nordics, including in Iceland.
We were keen to find out how he ended up in Sweden in 2009.

“I was the director at a Norwegian dairy when I became acquainted with Björn Kvist—a nurse in the ER in the process of setting up a goat farm. I was doing consulting work outside of my capacity as a director and he was one of the people reaching out to me. I always tried helping small farms when I could. Basically, I traveled to different farms, advising them about one thing or another. Björn  and I were joking around and I said, “How are you going to continue working as a nurse, care for a farm, and make cheese?” and he told me I could take care of the cheesemaking! At the time, it was just a joke, but a year later it became a reality. I’ve had a dream since I was a boy of having my own little dairy.”

No doubt Erik’s knowledge and extensive career in the dairy industry is partly what has led to Löt’s success. But as Erik says—it’s not only about him and Björn, but about the goats!

Erik at the farm. Photo credit: Jörgen Appelgren

Happy Goats Make for Great Cheese

Goats can be pretty fun to watch as they climb just about anything, they’re incredibly curious, and, if you meet one, chances are it’ll approach you looking for food. At least in our experience. But what does it mean to care for your goats? Löt Gårdmejeri has over a hundred goats—all of whom have been individually named with names that match their personalities—and know a thing or two about what makes goats happy.

“If you take good care of your animals, you’ll have a good end product. Our goats get to roam freely outside and also have two barns—one colder and one warmer one. That way, they get to choose where they hang out.”

Erik also pointed out the importance of a good diet for the goats.

“Goat cheese should, naturally, taste like it came from a goat. But if you feed them too much protein to produce more milk, the milk will taste too much like goat (if you’ve ever smelled a goat, you know what intense goat flavor would be like). This is also why it’s important they feel calm and safe, or the milk they produce won’t taste right.”

We were keen to find out if the kids (baby goats) stayed with their mothers after birth.

“Yes, they stay with their mothers for about one and a half months during which time we only milk the goats once a day—the rest of the milk is needed for the kids. Then the kids start spending the night alone so we get some more milk from the mothers in the morning, but the kids rejoin their mothers after milking every morning. Then at about two and a half to three months the kids stop drinking the milk and go out onto the fields to enjoy summer with the small herd of cows we have. There’s nothing bad about keeping the kids with the mothers. In fact, that way you get more milk that way, not less.”  

While it’s harder to do something similar with cows, it’s possible and there are farms piloting various techniques where the calves get to stay with their mothers.

As you can tell, the goats are treated very well at Löt. And so far all the farmers we’ve interviewed have said the same thing—the happier the animals, the better the end product. 

The Best Things with Being a Goat Farmer and Cheesemaker

It’s not just the goats who are happy—Erik is as well. When asked what the best things are with his work, Erik said, “I can be proud of what I do. We don’t use unnecessary additives to make the cheese. And the cheese is of great quality because we are the ones caring for the goats, so the milk is top notch. And the cow’s milk we use in some of our products is from a local organic farm with high standards. Plus, I get to do my own thing. I love experimenting and I take great pleasure in producing new flavors for the restaurants we deliver to. I can cater to their specific needs. It’s fun when it’s appreciated and your products end up in Michelin star restaurants!”

Erik also points out that making cheese the old fashioned way might be better for our health.

“My nephew is a food engineer and working for the guy that won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on sugar and how it works in tandem with gut health and our immune system. Traditionally made cheese has less lactose, meaning it has less sugar, as the healthy bacteria has “eaten” it all. That’s also better for people who are lactose intolerant. When making cheese in an industrial manner, more lactose is left in the end product as you don’t necessarily allow for the friendly bacteria to take the time it needs to munch it all up. That means the sugar content is higher. Another thing that distinguishes industrial cheese production is the desire to keep all the liquid in the cheese—that way they get more cheese from less milk.”

This echoes what we learned from Tommy at Almnäs Bruk who also makes cheese in a more traditional manner.

Erik making cheese. Photo credit: Jörgen Appelgren

Homogenized Milk Means Less Taste

When you buy milk from the big dairies, it’s been homogenized. That means they’ve literally gone and “blown up” the fatty acids (you blend the milk really fast to do so, ensuring an even looking product where the fat is integrated into the milk, as opposed to collecting on top). Milk contains more than 400 different fatty acids.

“Using different lactic acid bacteria and different temperatures during the cheesemaking production, we can bring out the flavor of the different fatty acids in the cheese. I can make it taste a little bit like toffee, vanilla, cola, or coconut. That makes it interesting.” 

Again, this echoes what Almnäs Bruk told us.

Having Fun Experimenting

Löt Gårdsmejeri produces more than sixty different products (cheese and butter), albeit at different times of the year.

“We produce a goat milk cheese that’s similar to pecorino. It’s matured for three years and can be kept for at least eight years. It is sold to very nice restaurants. We call it Drottning Omma. We’re also busy with a new cheese called Birger Persson which we’re using four different types of lactic acid bacteria to make. It’s not a cheese you press during the cheese making process, but it's still hard. A real taste experience. Those types of products take more time to make and require a lot of knowledge to make, as well. It’s fun to make cheese that allows for the taste buds to awaken. When we do cheese tastings it’s so much fun presenting these types of cheeses. We try to make what no one else is making. For example, we have 11 different kinds of blue cheeses, but not one tastes like roquefort. There’s no point making exactly what others are already making.”

Not surprisingly, even the Swedish Royal Family pops by to buy some cheese at this farm!

Drottning Omma cheese from Löt

How Do You Make Great Goat Cheese?

“As already mentioned, it starts with the goats. If you feed the goats too much protein, lecithin, which amongst other things helps keep the fatty acids together in the milk, gets disrupted. You’ve got about 165 fatty acids in goat’s milk that matter for the cheesemaking process. There are more fatty acids in total, but those are the ones that make a big difference when making cheese. In cow’s milk you’ve got about 160 that are important when making cheese. We care for our animals in such a way that the lecithin is kept intact, as are the fatty acids. That way, we can bring forth different flavor profiles, such as coconut and toffee in the end product, as well as sour or sweet notes. Whatever you want.”

Another thing Erik is passionate about is the health of the animals.

“Goats should be healthy to create great cheese. Free from CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)—a viral disease caused by retroviruses, a specific type of virus that uses RNA as its genetic material.). To stay healthy they need access to minerals, bark, young bushes and trees, grass, and so forth. A well-rounded diet. They also need to be able to be in charge of their everyday life. As mentioned, we offer them the ability to be indoors, or outdoors. We have two indoor barns—one that’s a bit warmer and one that’s a bit colder. That way, the goats can choose what they want. You end up with calmer animals who feel safe. They don’t suffer from stress. Lecithin is affected by stress, and, also, too much protein in the diet. If you feed them too much protein, they have poorer lecithin and as a result, poorer fatty acids.”

Humans, cows and goats living in harmony at Löt gårdsmejeri.

A Year With Goats

We have noticed that Löt gårdsmejeri doesn't produce their various cheeses throughout the year—there are times when you can buy one cheese and not another.

“The goats have a resting period from December till February. In February the new kids are born and that’s when we start getting milk and can make cheese again. But the first 1.5 months, when the kids need the most milk, we only do one milking per day, so cheese production is slower. After that, we get a bit more, and when the kids stop milking at around 2.5-3 months, we get even more. During the resting period, we can only sell matured cheese, not fresh cheese, like chevre. A lot of the cheese we make also ends up being bought up in a week. That’s why we don’t stock all the cheeses all the time.”

Löt cheese maturing.

It Takes a Lot of Milk

They make about 60 tonnes (!) of cheese every year at Löt Gårdsmejeri, but some of the milk they use for the cheese comes from Kättestad farm, which produces the cow’s milk required for some of their cheeses.

“We get on average 80,000-100,000 liters of milk per day from just over 100 goats. It takes 12 liters of milk to make one kg of goat’s cheese. When it comes to cow’s milk, you only need about 10 liters for one kg. And sheep’s cheese requires even less milk with only about six to seven liters per kg.”

What’s It Like Running a Small Swedish Dairy Today?

“It’s not so easy to have a small dairy and turn it into a real business. It takes a lot of effort. A lot of work. I went to fetch cow’s milk at three am this morning. It’s now 12 pm and while I’m done with what I needed to do with the milk, I’m still not done for today. The last thing I’ll do before going to bed is to go outside and turn the cheese! You work around the clock. However, I’ve been on the industrial side of things and I’m not interested in that anymore. This is a good life. If someone stops by, I have a coffee with them. Explain what we do and why it’s important. I feel good. And my daughter and grandchildren come for visits. What’s more, we have eight “fjällkor” (a type of Nordic mountain cows) and in the end we aim to set up a restaurant on the farm with food from the farm. That’s why we have the cows, and, of course, to take good care of an old breed of cows and ensure the lineage continues.”

Happy cows at Löt gårdsmejeri.

What’s One of the Main Difficulties for Smaller Dairies?

“Logistics. When we first started out, I had to drive to Stockholm and Göteborg to make deliveries and I’m needed on the farm! And when NOMA (the three star Michelin restaurant in Denmark) asked to use our butter, I had no idea how to ship it to them. It would have cost me over 3,700 crowns to send 25 kg of butter as I’d have to buy a much larger shipping space than I needed. So I posted on Facebook and someone suggested getting a pensioner take the train to Denmark, spend the day, and come back again. A ticket for a pensioner, at the time, was 500 crowns. So we did that once a month and the pensioners were really happy to get free trips to Denmark! Today there’s Bondens Skafferi which is a sort of middleman for a lot of farmers.”


One funny story Erik shared with regards to logistics was when Operakällaren (it’s one of the most famous restaurants in Sweden) called asking to taste their butter as they’d heard it was good.

“They called me back in 2012 and asked to taste our butter, but they were based in Stockholm. I thought, well, you know “källaren” (the basement)—it can't be a very nice restaurant. So I told him if he wanted to try our butter, he could go to Gothenburg and buy some. The line went silent. He finally told me he would speak to his boss about it. Thankfully, his boss recognized the name of the restaurateur in Gothenburg using our butter and said if it was good enough for him, it'd be good enough for them. They ordered ten kilos right off the bat, without tasting it first.”

There you have it—you should never judge a book by its cover or a restaurant by its name!

The world famous Löt butter served at NOMA and Zén.

KRAV—to Be or Not to Be

We often ask small farmers and food manufacturers about KRAV (the Swedish label for “certified organic”) as it can be pricy to get certified and there’s been debate in the media whether KRAV is the best standard, or not.

“I like their standards apart from one thing—they don’t require the animals to be healthy. I wrote to them about this, because we wanted to be KRAV certified. But they didn’t make it a requirement that the goats are healthy, so we withdrew from it.”

Pairing Löt Cheese with Wine

As a cheese that’s recognized by high-quality restaurants, Löt has had visits from sommeliers pairing their cheese with wine.

“I favor Sauvignon Blanc with the gårdsost. Sauvignon Blanc is good with Östgöta ost, too, but perhaps then an Amarone (an Italian wine). For Olas blå (a blue cheese), I’d suggest Amarone as well, though I’m no expert. And for the classic chevre, an ice wine. That’s a drink they enjoy in Germany and Switzerland (it’s made from apples frozen when still on the tree).”

What the sommelier who came to visit mentioned was that cheese that has high acidity (or just that little bit of a sour note) lowers the acidity in the wine and highlights the fruity notes. Likewise, a creamy cheese brings down the acidity in the wine. And sparkling and sweet wines work well with salty cheeses. In general, a mild cheese requires a mild drink. A fruity, but not sweet, Sancerre works well with blue cheeses. When there’s more saltiness and acidity in the cheese you want to have a fruity wine that isn’t sweet.

Our in-house foodie extraordinaire Cia Tonelli tried some of Swedishness' cheeses, including ones from Löt. The verdict? Excellent!

Does Sweden Offer World Class Cheeses?

Löt’s cheese isn’t just famous in Sweden and Denmark—it’s shipped to a fancy Michelin star restaurant in Singapore, too. Though, admittedly, it’s because of a Scandinavian connection. After talking to dairies like Löt and Almnäs though, one thing is clear—there are Swedish cheeses garnering international recognition. Yet Swedes tend to think of French, Swiss, or Italian cheese as “gourmet cheese.” So we asked Erik if Sweden offers world class cheeses?

“Absolutely. We have a rich assortment of cheeses. It’s just hard for smaller farmers with logistics. We import a lot of cheese in Sweden, yet we have a long history of cheesemaking and a lot of knowledge. In all the different “landscapes” of Sweden there’s a lot of different types of cheeses. We just have to become better at highlighting it. Another interesting thing to note is that almost all Scandinavian cheesemakers are trained at the dairy school in Odense. Yet, the cheese in the different Nordic countries varies greatly. I think that, in and of itself, is exciting, but people don’t usually consider that.”

We had no idea there was just one school and that this is where you’ll find a lot of the cheese makers in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland learn the art of managing dairies and making cheese.

“I’ve seen a growing interest for Swedish cheese at the big “saluhallarna” (Swedish indoor food markets). However, the majority of the cheese is still imported.”

Goat Power—Goats Generating Electricity

Think goats have no power? Think again.

Löt Gårdsmejeri in cooperation with Tekniska verken (local power company) is about to have the grand opening of their goat electricity project in May 2024.
Say what again?

They’ve just installed massive solar panels in between where the goats roam freely.
“The goats will eat the grass, meaning there is no upkeep needed to keep vegetation away from the solar panels. The solar panels, on the other hand, offer shade. We hope this means the grass will be less affected by dry weather during summer. We had a bad year last year—a terrible drought.”

This is a pilot project that the government wishes to take to other farmers…if it’s successful!

“As restaurants will be able to buy power directly from us, they can now put up signposts that they aren’t only using our butter and cheese, but also our power!”


Visiting Löt

You don’t have to be royalty to come for a visit—the farm store is usually open when Björn or Erik are at home, but they recommend you call to check before visiting.
The farm also opens its doors a couple of times per year. There’s the opening of the “get el parken” (the goat power plant) on the 18th of May 2024.

And the farm is always open once in spring and once in autumn for “vår och höst dagarna.” “It’s interesting when 3,000 people show up all at once! You can imagine! We have various market stands here during those days—people are selling sheep’s milk ice cream, cheesecake, jewelry made from flintstones, and so on. It’s very nice and people are generally in a really good mood. There’s also live Swedish folk music.”

Löt Summed Up

Löt is a small goat farm and dairy in Sweden that’s garnered international attention due to its tasty cheeses and butters. Restaurants like NOMA and Zén (both awarded three Michelin stars) use their butter.

The farm’s owners insist that putting the animals’ well-being first is what leads to a great end product—the goats need to be calm and happy to produce great milk for great cheese.

One of the reasons they can create 60 different products is that they don’t homogenize the milk, meaning the fatty acids remain intact. By using different lactic acid bacteria and temperatures in the cheesemaking process they can then pick and choose what flavors they want to come out in the end product.

Producing cheese the old fashioned way also means there’s less lactose in the end product, meaning there’s less sugar and people who are lactose intolerant are more likely to be able to eat it (this is only matured cheese).

Erik thinks that Swedish cheese from smaller dairies is as good as the revered cheese coming from France and Italy, but that it needs to be highlighted more in the media and by shop owners and logistics need to improve for smaller farmers.