Skyr - The Icelandic Yogurt
Skyr is without a doubt the most famous Icelandic food product! Some call it the Icelandic yogurt, others have called it a cheese pudding but speaking as an Icelander I want to say that it is just a phenom on its own.
Icelanders are very proud of their Skyr, probably because it is one of the few food products that the Vikings used to eat that we still eat and enjoy today. This is why you would often find us describing it as something completely different, far from the scales of Greek yogurt, strained yogurt and regular yogurt. But even so there is no denying that Skyr is a dairy product, like the rest of them and in its original form, it is white in color like most of them.
The difference first and foremost lays in the thickness of Skyr, the creamy feel of it and the fact that it is very high in protein, and when I say high I mean protein rich like no other yogurt.
You can, of course, find different brands and variations which aren’t all as healthy but the basic Skyr, the original Icelandic recipe, is packed with protein.
FUN FACT: When the Vikings arrived in Iceland, over 1,000 years ago, they brought the Skyr recipe with them proving that it originated in the Nordic countries. Still, the making of Skyr continues in Iceland while it was lost in the other countries resulting in Iceland being renowned for its Skyr.
Growing up as a kid in Iceland we would often have Skyr for breakfast, lunch or dinner even. It was bought in big containers, the blue one as that was the original, unsweetened one and then my parents would add milk/cream and sugar to it and mix it all together. Sometimes we would even add raisins to really make it presentable for a picky crowd (me and my sisters).
Today you will see less of this, the Icelandic Skyr culture has advanced a great deal since the last century and now we have an incredible collection of flavors and styles and new ones coming out every year.
One of the handiest of updates that the Skyr has received in the last decade is the spoon in the lid. This has made it so much easier to travel with our favorite Icelandic dairy product and turned it into the most favorable picnic treat. Another good thing about it is that Skyr doesn’t need to be consumed in the most perfect cold state. It is perfectly fine when it as room temperature. Enjoy!
Fun Facts about Skyr
- The name, Skyr, is an old Norse word and means either thick or thin milk
- It takes almost 24 hours to make one batch
- Some say that the Skyr is the reason behind Iceland success in sport worldwide!
- It is sometimes called the Viking Superfood!
- Siggi, behind Siggi’s Skyr is Icelandic so the recipe is legit
- Not long ago Skyr was completely unknown to people outside Iceland but today the Skyr-market is worth nearly $8bn (£6.4bn) a year and is growing fast
- It is naturally fat-free as it is made from skimmed milk
- Back in the day, Icelanders would also make Skyr from sheep’s milk
- The name is pronounced /skeer/
Skyr vs. Greek Yogurt
Comparing these two is like comparing Goude to Mozzarella, sure they are both cultured dairy products but the process in how they are made is completely different.
Skyr is technically a type of cheese, it is more or less made by thoroughly straining milk (skimmed milk) and adding in some Skyr cultures. This production can take up to 24 hours to do. To produce one cup of Skyr you need about four cups of milk so you are left with the same amount of protein and vitamins but less amount of actual product. If you have 150 g of Skyr and 150 gr of Greek yogurt the difference will be about 2-3 g of protein.
How is Skyr made?
To make Skyr is a little like baking Sourdough bread, meaning that you need to have Skyr cultures to create Skyr. Just like you need to have a sourdough mother to make sourdough bread. The Skyr cultures have been preserved in Iceland for hundreds of years.
First, you need skimmed milk, which you then heat up to about 90-100°c. You let me milk sit until it has cooled down to 40°c. At this point, you add in the Skyr cultures and rennets and let it thicken. The thickening process takes about 4-5 hours. When it has thickened the product is cooled down to about 18-20°c and this time it sits for 18 hours. At this point, that product is often pasteurized and the milky froth on top removed. Voilá!
Fun Fact: for every 4 cups of milk you will only get 1 cup of Skyr.
Why is Skyr So Healthy?
The unflavoured version of Skyr is about 12% protein, 3% carbohydrate, and extremely low in fat, only 0.5%. It is very high in calcium and posses all the other vitamins commonly found in dairy products. From Skyr you can get more protein than almost any other type of dairy and you will feel full after eating it. It is the perfect snack or side meal and excellent for those who are looking to gain muscle.
- Ísey (ISL)
- Siggi’s Skyr (USA)
- Kea Skyr (ISL)
- Icelandic Provisions (USA)
- Arla (UK)
Ways to Try Skyr
- Join a Food Tour when in Iceland – as Skyr is our ultimate food token you will find no shortage of Skyr and Skyr related dished on our local food tours. A fantastic way to try!
- Taste it at the local restaurants in Iceland – it is hard to find a menu that doesn’t have anything with skyr on it. Go nuts, try as much as you can!
Or, if at home:
- Find a cup at your local supermarket – there is barely a country today which isn’t selling skyr. Try it!
- Make a Skyr cake – There are so many amazing Skyr cakes to try out. Google or simply use my favorite version below!
- Mix it with porridge – this is what Icelanders call Skyrhræringur and it’s simply delicious!
Great Skyr Recipes
Raspberry and White Chocolate Skyr Cake
- 1 pack LU Bastogne Biscuits (or other cinnamon biscuits)
- 150 g butter
- 500 g vanilla Skyr
- 3 dl cream
- 100 g white chocolate
- 100 g powdered sugar
- 1 jar Raspberry jam (preferably with the seeds) OR berries.
Mix the butter and LU Bastogne in a mixer and place it at the bottom of the form and a little up to the sides. Place it to the side and do the next step. Now you whip the cream and place to the side. In a separate bowl, you mix together the Skyr and powdered sugar.
Melt the white Chocolate and slowly mix it with the Skyr mix, next you evenly add the cream to the mix and lastly place the mixture on top of the biscuits.
Cool the cake for a couple of hours, the longer the better.
Right before you present is you spread the jam over the cake or if you aren’t a fan of jam sprinkle raspberries.
Skyr with berries
- Regular unmixed Skyr
The most simple yet traditional dessert in Iceland. Put the Skyr in a bowl, pour cream over, sprinkle the berries over and then sugar over that. Add more sugar until you like the taste.
- Cup of Vanilla Skyr
- 1 Banana
- ½ Red Apple
- Ice Cubes
Mix in a blender for about 45 seconds or until everything is well chopped. Enjoy cold!
Spending time traveling you often spend much of your money of food especially when traveling to Iceland. Iceland can be quite an expensive place but there is a way to do it on a more cheaper matter.
Icelanders make great beer, that's a fact!
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Are you looking to know about the most popular beer in Iceland? Where to buy the best beer in Iceland? What is so special about Icelandic beer culture? We got you, read more in the blog!