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Nøkkelost (Norwegian: "key cheese"), also seen in Swedish as Nökkelost and sometimes called kuminost (cumin cheese), is a Norwegian cheese flavored with cumin and cloves.[1] It is semi-hard, yellow, and made from cow's milk, in the shape of wheels or blocks, with a maturation period of three months.[2]

Nøkkelost cheese is similar to the Dutch cheese, Nagelkaas,[3] which is itself an unprotected name variant of kanterkaas. There are differing theories on the origin of the Norwegian name. The most likely is that it is a false cognate in Norwegian of the Dutch Nagelkaas, which translates to "nail cheese", owing to the nail-like shape of the cloves. Another theory is that as a factory-made variation of the Dutch Leyden cheese, which has its origins in the 17th century, the Norwegian nøkkel (meaning "key") is a reference to Leiden's coat of arms.[4]

There was a version of Nøkkelost manufactured and marketed in the US throughout the 1960s.[5] Kraft Foods first called it "Caraway" then later used "Kuminost Spiced Cheese" on the label.[6]This cheese is also produced by cheese makers Pleasant Valley Dairy[7] in Ferndale, WA and Three Village Cheese Co.[8]in the Town of Newport, NY.


  1. ^ Nøkke (Tine)
  2. ^ Lukas Spee & Martijn Lafeber. "Nøkkelost". cheesewiki.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  3. ^ Friesian Clove/Nagelkaas (igourmet.com)
  4. ^ "Nøkkelost". igourmet.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  5. ^ Steve Ehlers, Jeanette Hurt (2008) Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World (Penguin)
  6. ^ Steve Ehlers, Jeanette Hurt (2008) Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World (Penguin)
  7. ^ Pleasant Valley Dairy
  8. ^ Three Village Cheese Co.

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