On the other day, I received an email from a person who lives in North Carolina, US. She was asking me if I knew how to make ancient Japan’s cheese called ‘So’. I didn’t know it. I have never seen it in my life, but I have read about it many years ago. Nobody knows exactly how people in ancient Japan made it, because the culture of dairy was long lost.

However, they say there are some old books that refer to how to make ‘So’. It was made by simmering Milk. ‘So’ was close to Evaporated Milk rather than Cheese.

Currently in Japan, milk consumption is dropped because schools are closed and school lunch services are halted due to COVID-19. People are encouraged to consume more Milk, then this ‘So’, that requires a lot of Milk to produce, has come into the spotlight. It’s a once-in-a-thousand-years ‘So’ boom!


Full Cream Milk
*Note: I suppose Non Homogenised Full Cream Milk is closer to the ancient natural Milk. You can try with Non Homogenised Full Cream Milk.

  1. As we need to evaporate Milk into thick paste, I recommend to use a pot with large surface or frying pan. Non-stick pan is ideal.
  2. Bring Milk to the simmer, and cook, regularly stirring and scraping the solids on the bottom and sides, until Milk turns to paste. It hardens slightly as it cools down. I stopped cooking when the texture was similar to soft cookie dough, and ‘So’ turned like Cream Cheese.
  3. Wrap with plastic food wrap or place into a plastic container, and keep in the fridge.
  4. Microwave: Microwave is useful to heat up the Milk before cooking, but cooking Milk in the microwave is tricky. As Milk tends to bubble up a lot, you need a large heat-proof bowl and cook smaller amount of Milk.
  5. Colour: Depending on the strength of heat, ‘So’ can be light creamy colour, light brown or brown. It is up to your preference. The ancient ‘So’ that was cooked in Sue pottery must have been browned.
  6. Amount & Cooking Time: I made about 200g ‘So’ from 1000ml common Homogenised Full Cream Milk, and it took about 60 minutes.
  7. How To Enjoy: The flavour of ‘So’ is quite sweet. I enjoyed it with Honey. I think ‘So’ can be seasoned with Salt. It can be cooked like Halloumi.