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(Video) SBS reporter tastes “skerpikjøt” for the first time

The mutton, usually in the form of shanks or legs (kjógv or bógv in Faroese, depending on which leg it is), is allowed to hang in a so-called hjallur, a drying shed ventilated by the wind, for five to nine months.

It has a very strong smell, which may upset those who are not accustomed to it. The hanging process covers three stages, or hjeldene, each causing the meat to have different consistencies, smells and tastes. The first, visnaður, occurs after just a few days, but lamb and mutton are not eaten after such a short period. The second stage, ræstur, is of less predictable length, and provides dried meat suitable for eating without cooking.

In reaching the final stage, turrur, cold weather can on occasion virtually eliminate the typical smell with a resulting weakening of taste. If, however, the weather is warm and wet during the first period, the fermentation process can cause the meat to decay, giving it too strong a taste.

There can therefore be variations in taste from year to year, but this is not usually a problem. A much more serious problem is infestation by flies. For this reason, the drying sheds used to be placed next to streams or the sea in order to diminish the arrival of flies.

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