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Thursday, June 19, 2008

In: Icelandic Yogurt

The Shaw Report, Entertainment Weekly’s hopefully jokey review of the latest faddish objets de interest of west coast trendies, had this to say last week:

In: Icelandic yogurt
Five minutes ago: Greek Yogurt
Out: Australian yogurt

Let me try to translate that for the incurably trend-challenged, i.e. all the rest of the continent.

Icelandic yogurt. There’s no such thing, says Icelandic blogger Jared Bibler in The Iceland Report.

If you want yogurt, go back to Stonyfield Farms, or wherever, and pick up some of their slop. If you want skyr, the stuff with the tang, the stuff that leaves chalk residue in your mouth, the real-man Icelandic take-no-prisoners made-since-the-year-1000 stuff, the food that built a nation, then that's just "skyr".

Take that. That’s the attitude that’s made Iceland’s world-wide empire a reality.

Anyway, Wikipedia has a more factual explanation:
Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product, a type of fresh cheese that has been strained, like Bulgarian yoghurt. It is said to have originally come from Norway, brought to Iceland by the Norwegian Vikings, but is currently unique to Icelandic cuisine.

Traditionally, skyr is made with pasteurized skimmed milk and live active cultures such as Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Then, "skyr condenser" — good skyr, used to ignite bacteria growth, and rennet was added, and the milk was left to coagulate. The skyr was then strained through fabric to remove the whey, called "mysa" in Icelandic, a by-product that Icelanders used as a thirst-quenching drink. Today it is made from non-fat milk.

Skyr, in its traditional preparation, has no added flavors beyond the ingredients mentioned above. Recently, Icelandic manufacturers of skyr have added flavors such as vanilla, berry, and other flavorings common to yoghurt to the final product, to increase its appeal. Skyr-based smoothies have become very popular.

Another blogger, What’s Out There, takes apart a carton of Skyr, literally, and finds written on the inside this missive from Siggi himself, the CEO of The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation.
Skyr is strained yogurt made from cow’s milk. It’s been a staple of the Icelandic diet for more than 1,000 years. Traditionally, skyr is made from skim milk after the cream has been floated off to make butter. So it’s fat free. Like milk, regular yogurt is mostly water-but with skyr, that water is strained away. In other words, one cup of siggi’s skyr requires three times more milk than a regular cup of yogurt. What remains is a protein-rich yogurt with live active cultures.

Greek yogurt is totally different. It’s yogurt with the water strained away. Oh, wait.
Greek yogurt is much thicker than regular yogurt because a lot of the liquid whey is strained out. It doesn't need the pectin or other thickeners found in many yogurts. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, with 8 ounces of the nonfat version supplying about 20 grams of protein, nearly double the protein content of traditional yogurt. It's also lower in carbohydrates, which means even less lactose for lactose-intolerant people. But it is substantially lower in calcium than regular varieties (about 150 milligrams of calcium per 8 ounces versus the 300 to 450 milligrams in plain regular yogurt). Fat and calories are also more concentrated, particularly in full-fat varieties. Eight ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt contains about 125 calories, but the same portion of the whole milk version contains about 300 calories and more than 20 grams of fat. Fortunately, the characteristic thick creaminess of Greek yogurt is present even in the nonfat form. While Greek yogurt is traditionally unsweetened, some flavored versions are appearing in the U.S.

That’s from Karen Collins, whose Nutrition Wise column is provided as a public service by the American Institute for Cancer Research. I found this edition at

As for Australian yogurt, it’s "out" so I can’t imagine why you’d even want to know about it. But for the record, there’s no such thing. Here we go again.

From the anar-anar blog
The Wallaby Yogurt Company... the majority of Americans probably haven't really heard of it as they produce organic yogurt, something not sold in most "regular" grocery stores. When I worked at the co-op though, Wallaby was easily the most popular yogurt (outside of the soy yogurts) sold. One day I asked a customer who regularly purchased Wallaby why he chose it over the other organic dairy yogurts and he told me that you can really "taste the difference" in the Australian yogurt.


So I decided to purchase one of these Wallaby yogurts and give it a shot. I was actually rather excited, thinking it was some really fabulous, rich yogurt.

Yeah, no. There is no such thing as "Australian" yogurt, and if there is, it only exists in Australia. Wallaby Yogurt tastes like any other organic yogurt you can purchase, the only difference is the fact that Wallaby costs about six cents more per yogurt.

Just to be fair, this is what the people at the The Wallaby Yogurt Company say:
Rather than adding gelatins for thickness, our yogurt uses a slow cooking process to create a naturally smooth and creamy Australian-style texture. It takes about twice as long to make Wallaby Organic as it does conventional yogurts. The smooth texture and mild taste – the result of our slow, gentle culturing process – is what differentiates Wallaby Organic from other yogurts.

Want even more info on yogurts of the world? Try an article titled Yogurts of the World by Vijaysree Venkatraman on Houston

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1 comment:

Rei said...

Skýr has curdling agents added. Greek yoghurt doesn't. That's why skýr is a cheese and greek yoghurt is a yoghurt. Cheese is milk curds, and that's what skýr is: a cheese that has a taste and texture of a thick yoghurt.