Learn to Make Icelandic Skyr—Icelandic Yogurt

This low-fat, healthy yogurt is not hard to make

White ceramic bowl of skyr yoghurt isolated on grey background.
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  • 01 of 08

    Icelandic Skyr Is Good for You

    Skyr—pronounced "skeer"—is a traditional Icelandic "yogurt" that has been made since the 9th century Viking era. It is technically classified as a cheese because it contains rennet, a substance used in curdling milk when making cheese, but is considered a yogurt because of its structure and texture. Skyr is much thicker than American—or even Greek—yogurt and might be the healthiest of yogurts available. Made from non-fat milk combined with live cultures, it is low in fat, high in protein (containing three times the protein of ordinary yogurts), and absolutely loaded with probiotics.

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  • 02 of 08

    What You Need

    Skyr was introduced to America in 2005 by enterprising Icelandic expatriate Siggi Hlmarsson under the brand name of "Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr." It can be hard to find unless you have access to Whole Foods, The Fresh Market (in the Southeast), or Haggen's (located in the Pacific Northwest). It can also be really pricey.

    But as long as you can find a single container of Siggi's plain or vanilla yogurt, you can use it as a culture to make your own skyr. Rennet is curdled milk from an unweaned calf's stomach, so if you are looking to make the skyr vegetarian, you can use vegetable rennet instead.

    To make approximately 4 cups of Icelandic skyr, you will need:

    • 1 gallon non-fat milk
    • 1 (5 1/2-ounce) container Siggi's plain or vanilla skyr
    • 7 drops liquid animal rennet, or 4 drops liquid vegetable rennet
    • 1/4 cup warm, non-chlorinated water
    • A reliable digital thermometer
    • A fine-mesh nylon vegetable bag or cheesecloth for draining the curds
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  • 03 of 08

    Santitize Your Supplies

    Before beginning, you need to thoroughly sanitize all of your skyr-making equipment. This includes any bowls, whisks, measuring cups, spoons, and the mesh straining bag. You can do this either by rinsing them in boiling water or by removing them immediately from a hot dishwasher.

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  • 04 of 08

    The Icelandic Skald...Oops, Scald

    Scalding the skyr

    The Spruce

    The first step to making skyr is to bring the milk to the scalding point. This is where the thermometer is necessary, as you need to make sure the milk reaches the scalding point but does not actually scald. To do this, place the milk in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring the milk to a slow and steady simmer over a medium-high burner, heating it until it reaches the scalding point, which is between 185 and 190 F; this should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scalding.

    If toward the very end of the heating process you notice that the milk at the bottom of the pot has begun to scald (seems like it is starting to stick), reduce the heat to medium-low, and stop stirring. A small bit of scalding is okay, but you don't want to release the scalded bits into the mixture.

    Turn the burner off immediately when the milk reaches the scalding point. Remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool to 110 F.

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  • 05 of 08

    Add Your Skyr Culture and Rennet

    Scoop out the container of skyr into a bowl. Once the milk has cooled down, combine 1 cup of the cooled milk with the skyr, then return the mixture to the pot, stirring to incorporate. This is called tempering and deters the warm mixture from cooking the cold mixture.

    Next, whisk the liquid rennet into the warm water, then stir this mixture immediately into the milk (the rennet will lose its effectiveness if prepared more than 30 minutes before using).

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  • 06 of 08

    Cover Overnight

    Covering the skyr for overnight
    The Spruce

    The mixture needs to rest overnight before proceeding with the recipe. Cover the pot with a thick towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot, such as the oven (not turned on) or an insulated cooler, for 12 hours. After a good night's rest, it will be time to separate the curds from the whey.

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  • 07 of 08

    Strain the Skyr

    Straining the skyr

    The Spruce

    The curds should have separated from the whey overnight—what you need to create the skyr are just the curds. Spoon the curds into a fine-meshed bag or a double-layer of cheesecloth. Suspend the bag over a dripping tray in a cool room, or place the bag over a colander set over a bowl in the refrigerator, and allow the remaining whey to drain until the skyr is thick.

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  • 08 of 08

    Storing and Serving Homemade Skyr

    Completed skyr in a bowl.
    The Spruce

    Your skyr will keep for three or four weeks, covered, in the refrigerator. To serve as breakfast or a snack, top with milk, fresh berries, and sugar or honey to taste. Skyr is not as sweet as American or Greek yogurts, so you may need to add a lot of sweetener to get the taste just right.