|Alternative names||chak(k)a, Greek yogurt, labneh, suzma, yogurt cheese|
|Place of origin||Greece, Middle East or Central Asia|
|Region or state||West, South, and Central Asia; Middle East, Southeastern Europe|
|457 kJ (109 kcal) per 100 g kcal|
Strained yogurt, Greek yogurt, yogurt cheese, sack yoghurt, labaneh or suzma yogurt (Greek: στραγγιστό γιαούρτι, Arabic: لبنة labnah, Turkish: süzme yoğurt), is yogurt that has been strained to remove most of its whey, resulting in a thicker consistency than unstrained yogurt, while preserving yogurt's distinctive sour taste. Like many types of yogurt, strained yogurt is often made from milk that has been enriched by boiling off some of its water content, or by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk. In Europe and North America, it is often made with low-fat or fat-free yogurt. In Iceland a similar product named skyr is produced.
Strained yogurt is generally marketed in North America as "Greek yogurt" and in Britain as "Greek-style yoghurt", though strained yogurt is also widely eaten in Levantine, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and South Asian cuisines, wherein it is often used in cooking (as it is high enough in fat content to avoid curdling at higher temperatures). Such dishes may be cooked or raw, savoury or sweet. Due to the straining process to remove excess whey, even non-fat varieties of strained yogurt are much thicker, richer, and creamier than yogurts that have not been strained. Since the straining process removes the whey, or fluid, from the milk solids, it requires substantially more plain yogurt to produce a cup of strained yogurt, so the cost to make it is increased accordingly. Thickeners, such as pectin, locust bean gum, starches, guar gum, etc., listed in the ingredients indicate straining was not the method used to consolidate the milk solids. Marketing of Greek or Greek-style yogurt in the US allows the use of more thickeners instead of straining, so there is little difference in yogurt of years prior to the introduction of strained yogurt other than an increase of thickeners, even though the price is now higher for the original, unstrained products. In western Europe and the US, strained yogurt has increased in popularity compared to unstrained yogurt. Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is lower in sugar than unstrained yogurt.
It was reported in 2012 that most of the growth in the $4.1 billion US yogurt industry came from the strained yogurt sub-segment, typically marketed as "Greek yogurt". In the US there is no legal definition of Greek yogurt, and yogurt thickened with thickening agents may also be sold as "Greek yogurt" even though it is not necessarily strained yogurt.
There are no standard regulations in the market to monitor or control the composition of concentrated yogurts. Carbohydrate, fat and protein contents in strained yogurts varied from 1–12, 0–20, and 3.3–11 grams per 100 grams, respectively. Concentrated yogurts contain higher final total solid content than regular yogurts, possibly prolonging shelf life compared to regular yogurts.
Variations by area
In the cuisines of many Iranian, Baloch, and Turkic peoples (e.g. in Azerbaijani, Afghan, Tatar, Tajik, Uzbek, and other Central Asian cuisines), a type of strained yogurt called chak(k)a or suzma (Turkmen: süzme, Azerbaijani: süzmə, Kazakh: сүзбe, Kyrgyz: сүзмө, Uzbek: suzma, Uyghur: сүзма ) is consumed. It is obtained by draining qatiq, a local yogurt variety. By further drying it, one obtains qurut, a kind of dry fresh cheese. Strained yogurt in Balochistan is called "Sheelanch" and is a vital part of the nomadic diet. It is usually used for making dips served with dates, or served as a side dish. It is also dried and preserved for winter use.
Labneh (also known as Labni, Lebni) is popular in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Besides being used fresh, labneh is also dried then formed into balls, sometimes covered with herbs or spices, and stored under olive oil. Labneh is a popular mezze dish and sandwich ingredient. A common sandwich in the Middle East is one of labneh, mint, thyme, and olive on pita bread. The flavour depends largely on the sort of milk used: labneh from cow's milk has a rather mild flavour. Also the quality of olive oil topping influences the taste of labneh. Milk from camels and other animals is used in labneh production in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Bedouin also produce a dry, hard labneh (labaneh malboudeh, similar to Central Asian qurut) that can be stored. Strained labneh is pressed in cheese cloth between two heavy stones and later sun dried. This dry labneh is often eaten with khubz (Arabic bread), in which both khubz and labneh are mixed with water, animal fat, and salt, and rolled into balls.
In Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Syria, Labneh is made by straining the liquid out of yogurt until it takes on a consistency similar to a soft cheese. It tastes like tart sour cream or heavy strained yogurt and is a common breakfast dip. It is usually eaten in a fashion similar to hummus, spread on a plate and drizzled with olive oil and often, dried mint. It is also often paired as a dip with the mixed herb blend za'atar.
Labaneh bil zayit, "labaneh in oil", consists of small balls of dry labneh kept under oil, where it can be preserved for over a year. As it ages it turns more sour.
In Egypt, strained and unstrained yogurt is called "zabadi" ("laban" meaning "milk" in Egyptian Arabic). It is eaten with savoury accompaniments such as olives and oil, and also with a sweetener such as honey, as a snack or breakfast food. Areesh cheese (or Arish) (Arabic: جبنة قريش) is a type of cheese that originated in Egypt. Shanklish, a fermented cheese, is made from areesh cheese. Arish cheese is made from yogurt heated slowly until it curdles and separates, then placed in cheesecloth to drain. It is similar in taste to Ricotta. The protein content of Areesh cheese is 17.6%.
Strained yogurt in Iran is called mâst chekide and is usually used for making dips, or served as a side dish. In Northern Iran, mâst chekide is a variety of kefir with a distinct sour taste. It is usually mixed with fresh herbs in a pesto-like purée called delal. Yogurt is a side dish to all Iranian meals. Strained yogurt is used as dips and various appetizers with multitudes of ingredients: cucumbers, onions, shallots, fresh herbs (dill, spearmint, parsley, cilantro), spinach, walnuts, zereshk, garlic, etc. The most popular appetizers are spinach or eggplant borani, ‘’Mâst-o-Khiâr’’ with cucumber, spring onions and herbs, or ‘’Mâst-Musir’’ with wild shallots.
In Turkey, strained yogurt is known as süzme yoğurt ("strained yogurt") or kese yoğurdu ("bag yogurt"). Water is sometimes added to it in the preparation of cacık, when this is not eaten as a meze but consumed as a beverage. Strained yogurt is used in Turkish mezzes and dips such as haydari.
In Turkish markets, labne is also a popular dairy product but it is different from strained yogurt; it is yogurt-based creamy cheese without salt, and is used like mascarpone.
In South Asia, regular unstrained yogurt (curd), made from cow or water buffalo milk, is often sold in disposable clay bowls called kulhar. Kept for a couple of hours in its clay pot, some of the water evaporates through the unglazed clay's pores. It also cools the curd due to evaporation.
But true strained yogurt, chakka, is made by draining the yogurt in a (preferably muslin) cloth. Shrikhand is a dish made with chakka, sugar, saffron, cardamom, pureed or diced fruit and nuts mixed in; it is often eaten with poori. It is particularly popular in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, where dairy producers market shrikhand in containers.
Chakka is also eaten in Pashtun-dominated regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan with rice and meat dishes.
In Albania, strained yogurt is called "salcë kosi". After preparing yogurt from micro-cultured milk, it is drained in a cloth sack from few hours, to overnight. The water released from this process is called "hir" and can be used to preserve cheese or as a drink. Meanwhile the strained yogurt is used in many variation in the Albanian cuisine and is eaten either plain or with added elements such as dill, garlic, cucumber, nuts, olive oil etc.
In Armenia, strained yogurt is called kamats matzoon. Traditionally, it was produced for long-term preservation by draining matzoon in cloth sacks. Afterwards it was stored in leather sacks or clay pots for a month or more depending on the degree of salting.
In Bulgaria, where yogurt is considered to be an integral part of the national cuisine, strained yogurt is called "tsedeno kiselo mlyako" (Bulgarian: цедено кисело мляко), and is used in a variety of salads and dressings. Another similar product is "katak" (Bulgarian: катък), which is often made from sheep or goat milk.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia
A variety of strained yogurt called "basa" is a traditional variety of cheese from the region of Lika in Croatia. In the countries of the former Yugoslavia, strained yogurt made of cow's milk has become very popular in recent years. It is usually labeled grčki tip jogurta and eaten on its own as a snack or dessert.
In Macedonia it's widely known as pavlaka (павлака).
As in Greece, strained yogurt is widely used in Cypriot cuisine both as an ingredient in recipes as well as on its own or as a supplement to a dish. In Cyprus, strained yogurt is usually made from sheep's milk.
Strained yogurt (Greek: στραγγιστό γιαούρτι, translit. strangistó giaoúrti) is used in Greek food mostly as the base for tzatziki dip and as a dessert, with honey, sour cherry syrup, or spoon sweets often served on top. A few savoury Greek dishes use strained yogurt. In Greece, strained yogurt, like yogurt in general, is traditionally made from sheep's milk. Fage International S.A. began straining cows milk yogurt for industrial production in Greece in 1975, which is when it launched its brand "Total".
Rest of Europe
A type of strained yogurt named ymer is available. In contrast to the Greek and Turkish variety, only a minor amount of whey is drained off in the production process. Ymer is traditionally consumed with the addition of ymerdrys (lit.: ymer-sprinkle), a mixture of roasted bread crumbs of rugbrød rye bread mixed with brown sugar. Like other types of soured dairy products, ymer is often consumed at breakfast. Strained yogurt topped with muesli and maple syrup is often served at brunch in cafés in Denmark.
Strained yogurt is known as hangop, literally meaning 'hang up'. It is a traditional dessert. Hangop may also be made using buttermilk.
In the United Kingdom strained yogurt can only be marketed as "Greek" if made in Greece. Strained cows'-milk yogurt not made in Greece is typically sold as "Greek Style" or "Greek Recipe" for marketing reasons, typically at lower prices than yogurt made in Greece. Among "Greek Style" yogurts there is no distinction between those thickened by straining and those thickened through additives.
In September 2012 Chobani UK Ltd. began to sell yogurt made in the United States as "Greek Yogurt". FAGE, a company that manufactures yogurt in Greece and sells it in the UK, filed a passing-off claim against Chobani in the UK High Court, claiming that UK consumers understood "Greek" to refer to the country of origin (similar to "Belgian Beer"); Chobani's position was that consumers understood "Greek" to refer to a preparation (similar to "French Toast"). Both companies relied on surveys to prove their point; FAGE also relied on the previous industry practice of UK yogurt makers to not label their yogurt as "Greek Yogurt". Ultimately Mr Justice Briggs found in favor of FAGE and granted an injunction preventing Chobani from using the name "Greek Yogurt". In February 2014 this decision was upheld on appeal. Chobani later announced that it was reentering the UK market using a "strained yogurt" label but has not yet done so. Greece may now seek to protect "Greek yogurt" across the entire EU under protected designation of origin rules.
Strained yogurt (often marketed as "Greek yogurt") has become popular in the United States and Canada, where it is often used as a lower-calorie substitute for sour cream or crème fraîche. Celebrity chef Graham Kerr became an early adopter of strained yogurt as an ingredient, frequently featuring it (and demonstrating how to strain plain yogurt through a coffee filter) on his eponymous 1990 cooking show, as frequently as he had featured clarified butter on The Galloping Gourmet in the late 1960s. In 2015, food market research firm Packaged Facts reported that Greek yogurt has a 50 percent share of the yogurt market in the United States.
"Greek yogurt" brands in North America include Chobani, Dannon Oikos, FAGE, Olympus, Stonyfield organic Oikos, Yoplait, Cabot Creamery and Voskos. FAGE began importing its Greek products in 1998 and opened a domestic production plant in Johnstown, New York, in 2008. Chobani, based in New Berlin, New York, began marketing its Greek-style yogurt in 2007. The Voskos brand entered the US market in 2009 with imported Greek yogurt products at 10%, 2%, and 0% milkfat. Stonyfield Farms, owned by Groupe Danone, introduced Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt in 2007; Danone began marketing a non-organic Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt in 2011 and also produced a now discontinued blended Greek-style yogurt under the Activia Selects brand; Dannon Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt was introduced in 2012 and boasts being the lightest Greek yogurt with fruit, and Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013. General Mills introduced a Greek-style yogurt under the Yoplait brand name in early 2010, which was discontinued and replaced by Yoplait Greek 100 in August 2012. Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013, and in July 2012 took over US distribution and sales of Canadian Liberté’s Greek brands. In Canada, Yoplait was launched in January 2013, and is packaged with toppings.
Strained yogurt is called jocoque seco in Mexico. It was popularised by local producers of Lebanese origin and is widely popular in the country.
The characteristic thick texture and high protein content are achieved through either or both of two processing steps. The milk may be concentrated by ultrafiltration to remove a portion of the water before addition of yogurt cultures. Alternatively, after culturing, the yogurt may be centrifuged or membrane-filtered to remove whey, in a process analogous to the traditional straining step. Brands described as "strained" yogurt, including Activia Greek, Chobani, Dannon Light & Fit Greek, Dannon Oikos, FAGE, Stonyfield Organic Oikos, Trader Joe's, and Yoplait have undergone the second process. Process details are highly guarded trade secrets. Other brands of Greek-style yogurt, including Yoplait and some store brands, are made by adding milk protein concentrate and thickeners to standard yogurt to boost the protein content and modify the texture.
The liquid resulting from straining yogurt is called "acid whey" and is composed of water, yogurt cultures, protein, a slight amount of lactose, and lactic acid. It is costly to dispose of. Farmers have used the whey to mix with animal feed and fertilizer. Using anaerobic digesters, it can be a source of methane that can be used to produce electricity.
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It should also be noted that sheep's or goat's milk yoghurt, or strained yoghurt often called 'Greek', are more stable than plain yoghurt.
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