We eat Icelandic yogurt for dessert almost every night at our house. It’s rich, creamy, high-protein and so filling, no midnight snack is necessary. If you haven’t heard of or tried this cousin of Greek yogurt, keep reading.
Icelandic yogurt, also know as Skyr, is a popular style of yogurt originating from Iceland. According to the Icelandic Provisions (a commercial brand available locally) carton, “…it’s been enjoyed for centuries in Iceland, a combination of milk and cultures that is rich and creamy…simplicity on a spoon.” They list low-fat milk as the first ingredient. Another popular brand called Siggi’s lists pasteurized skim milk as the first ingredient. Neither lists rennet. I have it on good authority that rennet (used to thicken) is not necessary if your live cultures are plentiful and active.
Skyr is thicker than Greek yogurt and contains a higher level of protein than other yogurts. This makes sense when you consider it takes 4 cups of milk to make one cup of Skyr. Traditionally, Greek yogurt requires 2 cups of milk to make one cup of yogurt.
If you want to try making it for yourself, check out my method below. Compare it to others online, and I think you’ll find my way is easier and less complicated than most. You won’t make it very often if it’s too involved–at least that’s how I operate. Of course, the first few times may take longer until you get your system figured out, but it’s so worth it.
Random thoughts about the process of making Icelandic Yogurt:
- I use low-fat milk to make my yogurt. The minimal fat adds creaminess as does whipping the final product (optional) and/or adding a little bit of heavy cream. Go ahead and take it into ice-cream-like territory with some sweetness if you want. A few colorful sprinkles might even convert the kids in your life.
- Note to my friends who use locally available Braum’s milk: Braums uses a special evaporative technique to increase the solids in their lower-fat milks, making them higher-protein and better-tasting right out of the carton. This means it will be difficult to strain this yogurt down to 1/4 of the original volume. No worries. Even if you get it down to 1/3 of the original volume, it will be very thick and totally delicious.
- I purchased Siggi’s plain yogurt as a starter for one batch and Icelandic Provisions Skyr for the other. Both batches turned out similar with only the slightest difference in tartness. The particular strain of cultures used in each brand are listed on their respective cartons, and they are different. I don’t think it matters so much. The best starter is the fresh yogurt you make yourself, but of course, you won’t have that available in the beginning.
- Regarding the tart taste: Some people consider Icelandic yogurt more tart than Greek yogurt. Although many people prefer the sour taste, I like a milder yogurt with less tartness. Since the “tartness” of any homemade yogurt can be affected by the length of incubation and type of milk used, I go for the shortest incubation period possible that still produces a firm product – mine usually takes about 4-5 hours to set. I strain it on my kitchen counter for another 8 hours using this cheap and no-messy-cheesecloth-required-method. Don’t worry. The yogurt is perfectly safe at room temperature because of the acid content.
- My yogurt turned out similar to what I have always called yogurt cheese. As you can see in the picture below, 2 quarts of milk reduced down to a generous 2 cups of yogurt and lots of whey. If you’re wondering what to do with all that whey, see this post or read about my ideas here.
- Icelandic yogurt is more filling because it’s more concentrated! Doesn’t it look like ice cream in the pictures at the top?
- Speaking of treats, try some Icelandic yogurt mixed with a small serving of Halo ice cream (our new fave) or any ice cream for that matter. Tastes like soft-serve frozen yogurt.
- For the record, both brands of commercial yogurt I purchased claim 17 grams of protein, 6 carbs and approximately 100 calories in a 5.3 ounce serving. I assume the stats on my homemade Icelandic yogurt are similar.
- 2 quarts skim or low-fat milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
- 1 generous tablespoon (more is not better) plain, non-flavored commercial Icelandic yogurt (once you make your own yogurt, you can use it as a starter)
- Fill Pyrex batter bowl (my preference) or 2-quart microwave-safe glass container with milk.
- Heat on HIGH in microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Temperature should reach 175-180 degrees after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes 17 minutes on HIGH). You can also heat milk on the stove if you prefer. It will take a lot longer and be careful not to scorch it.
- Allow milk to cool until temperature drops to between 100 and 115 degrees. This is the step (more than any other) where more people ruin their yogurt. In the beginning of your yogurt adventures, get yourself a thermometer and check!! Too hot and the little yogurt bodies will be murdered!
- If a skin forms, remove it.
- Whisk in 1 tablespoon unflavored commercial Icelandic yogurt as a starter or use yogurt from a previous batch of your own homemade yogurt. No need to heat or warm it ahead of time.
- Cover milk and place in a warm environment where the temperature stays around 100 degrees.
- Allow to incubate for 5-12 hours. The longer you incubate, the more tart your yogurt will be.
- Strain thickened yogurt. (If yogurt has not set, it will not readily strain.) I use this method. No cheesecloth required. I highly recommend it.
- Let yogurt sit in the strainer till the yogurt is reduced down to a quarter of the original volume. Time to strain may be as long as 8-10 hours. Tip the strainer or stir very gently if whey has pooled on top while straining.
- Empty whey from batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk or portable mixer to beat until smooth or leave as is. Chill.
- I'm told it will stay fresh for 3 weeks. We eat it too fast to know.
If you are new at making your own yogurt, check out these posts for tips and secrets that make the whole process easier. If you run into trouble, shoot me an email or leave a comment.