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A new dairy fashion has swept the European continent and beyond: skyr. We were invaded by this brave packaged viking, that embarked and landed on, at first, at our favorite German supermarket. Because Lidl isn’t just about 1.50€ panties and green DIY tools.
Skyr has a cool Nordic name and then there’s this other thing: it is portable, it is high protein, low sugar and no fat. Conclusion: the public lost it. Maybe there are those who claim skyr is like a milk steak (ok, not a nice image). However, one thing is true: eating foods rich in protein (and fats) lowers your appetite, and, if low in sugar, then we have a great snack or breakfast. Oh, and please stop saying skyr will burn your liver or some other shenanigans. We’re all responsible adults and won’t (and couldn’t) eat a bathtub full of it (please don’t, anyway).
Cheese or yogurt?
Skyr is an Icelandic specialty and (traditionally) made using skin or low-fat milk and a culture or older skyr, which is left to ferment until reaching its ideal point. Actually, real skyr is ever-changing and has no ending, it keeps on evolving through prolonged fermentation. But let’s focus on packaged ‘modern day’ skyr. Its texture is due to the removal of the whey which leaves it firm, a lot firmer than conventional yogurt. But then again, is skyr a yogurt or a cheese? The doubt subsists, but for all accounts there is no standard definition. Skyr is not objectively a yogurt, but more a soft spoonable cheese, even though skyr is fermented with yogurt bacteria, of which are mandatory the species Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Skyr also happens to take about four times more milk to produce than yogurt. The verdict may be that it’s a weird cheese that kind of looks like a yogurt. Thus considering, the question changes to: for the public eye, is it yogurt or cheese? The truth is, it depends: it’s all a matter of marketing. And yogurt sells better.
So, how was it?
The first time we tried skyr was interesting. It was a spur of the moment thing, we looked and there it was, a solitary pack of skyr and it came to us: this is it. But we didn’t have a spoon. Nevermind, let’s grab it anyway. And thus it happened. We leave the act of eating a (large) yogurt, without a spoon, in the middle of the street to your imagination. And we ate it like a viking would have, while he rowed his langskip.
As for flavor (and having tried the plain version more than once), we can say the following: it’s very sour and quite acid, with a firm consistency that reminds us of a cream cheese, which may come close to creamy if slightly beaten. We came up with a totally inaccurate scale to qualify it: cream — greek yogurt — skyr — queso fresco. At first, you can spot the similarities with plain yogurt, but then the tartness and acidity take it to a whole other level. In our opinion, skyr needs something to make it more toothsome, like fruit, jam, honey or the likes. However, we can also imagine it accompanied by smoked fish like salmon or cod, chives, a dab of olive oil, olives, a dash of salt, etc., like crème fraîche. Many Icelanders report eating skyr with some cream or milk, and also fruit. For further judgement, we’d like to try the real deal.
The problem with skyr is that it makes people more viking-like. We’ll explain: the famed pillaging propensities of the mighty Norse are reflected upon Portuguese fellows taking 20-unit boxes to the cash register with a triumphal, yet slightly menacing look. They take pictures of their loot and send them to their friends. Until the next fashion.