Caucasian Curry

Caucasian Curry

SKYR...Homemade Icelandic Yogurt

just look at those curds!
i love making yogurts and cheeses.  for some reason it's like baking bread.  i don't know why, but the smell of fresh yogurt right when you open the pot or while it's hanging in the fridge... gets me every time.  even when i'm having a bad day yogurt makes me happy.  if i've accomplished NOTHING in the day, at least i know i'm making yogurt...and it's gonna be good!
well, as promised, here is the SKYR recipe i use.  i should first state that i have not ever had "REAL" Skyr.  you have to go to Iceland to have "REAL" Skyr and i have no immanent plans to rush off to Iceland in the near future so i can only liken mine to the store bought here in America.  in any case if you haven't heard of is an Icelandic dairy product resembling Greek yogurt, but thicker and with a very slight cheese tang.  some say it's not a yogurt at all.  it actually IS a cheese.  the process of making it is like yogurt, but it calls for Rennet, a cheese making ingredient and the incubation doesn't seem to be as temperamental.

the important thing is you have to have skyr to make skyr.  luckily it seems to be growing in popularity.  like Greek yogurt, it is high in protein, low or NON fat and low in carbohydrates.  also a great way to get in some calcium.  the only brand i have seen around the markets is called Siggi's Skyr
if you can't get ahold of some Siggi's i read some other recipes that say buttermilk or other  live active culture yogurt will do, but there is something in real skyr that these don't have.  try high end markets or health food stores to find Siggi's

i've got this skyr thing can too.  as i mentioned, it seems to be a lot easier than plain yogurt and the incubation is not as precise.  i get these beautiful curds every time.  i just can't help myself from taking a picture or calling someone into the kitchen to admire my curds... don't they just glisten in the sunlight?...okay...okay...enough already !!!

so you've seen the pictures of how the curds look after you cut them...above is a photo of the pot all wrapped up in 3 towels.  tightly wrapped and cozy.  i leave it this way for about 12 - 16 hours.  i didn't notice a difference in the end product if it sat 10 hours or once i left it for 18 hours...woops...still turned out great. i should mention i live in Southern California where the weather is not too extreme.  my house doesn't really get higher than 75 or lower than 55 degrees.

just below is a photo of the skyr before cutting the curds.  it should look like a solid mass with a little visible whey.

the photo below is a beautiful shot of the bottom of the heavy stainless steal pot after removing the Skyr for straining.  i wanted to add this photo in to show that this scalded looking bottom is OKAY !...
just a reminder...DO NOT scrape or stir down to the bottom of your pot.  it will not hurt your batch unless you scrape it into your finished product.

again...DO NOT be alarmed if you have a little scalding at the bottom.  of course you CAN prevent this by standing there and continuously stir while it comes to temp.  i prefer to set the pot on the LOWEST heat and walk away for an hour, hence the little bit of scalding.  this works for me, but i can't guarantee it will work with your equipment.
FYI...this should clean out very easily with a little soaking

just above is a beautiful photo of the professional straining method i have come up with for the fridge.
IMPORTANT...make sure you have a big enough container underneath to catch the whey dripping...could get ugly  

i found 2 good, easy recipes for skyr.   one is at Recipezaar by Charlotte J and another was in a forum called The Icelandic Weather Report by a poster named Bigbearok.
below is kind of a combo of the two.  this works every time for me.  check the links to see if you would like to follow one of their recipes and instructions by the book.

4 quarts (1 gallon) non fat milk...NOT ultra pasteurized
 Siggi's Skyr, or another brand if you can find it
Rennet...i use liquid rennet (vegetable base)
or...1/2 Rennet tablet dissolved in a little cold water
good thermometer
good quality stock pot, stainless steel
towels for wrapping up pot
cheese cloth or a big square of muslin works better
a large strainer

make sure all of your utensils are CLEAN.  heat the milk slowly up to 195 F degrees.  be careful not to burn the bottom.  slow heating, a heavy stainless pot and stirring will prevent this.  when it reaches 190-195 degrees, turn off and cool to 110 F degrees.  mix about 3-4 Tbsps of your starter (Siggi's or other live active culture yogurt) with a couple of Tbsp of the warm milk (one at a time) in a small cup until it seems combined and pourable.  add this mixture to the warm milk and stir being careful not to scrape up any milk solids that may have formed at the bottom of the pot.  now add the Rennet...i use 7-8 drops for 1 gallon if milk..again...stir carefully.
cover your pot and wrap it in 2-3 towels all cozy and leave it on the counter.  one recipe says to let it sit for 24 hours...another says 12 hours...and another says 5 hours...i let mine sit for 12-16 hours.  i have seen no difference in a few hours here or there.
uncover and take a peek.  it should be a pretty solid mass and there should be some visible whey (yellowish liquid).  if it still looks and acts like a pot of milk...something has gone wrong.

if all has gone well it is now time to cut the curds...
as shown in numerous photos above and obviously my favorite skyr step.  i don't know if this is completely necessary, but some recipes call for it AND i like the way it looks.  i think it helps the curds separate from the whey while straining. next, line a large strainer with a couple of pieces of cheesecloth OR i like to use a piece of thin washed muslin.
slowly spoon the curds into the lined strainer until all is in.  let this sit for an hour or two while most of the whey drains from the curds.
TIP !...i use the inside of my salad spinner for the strainer.  a regular pasta colander doesn't seem to work as well.  you need a strainer that will really allow the whey to drip otherwise it will take forever.
when it looks as though the dripping has slowed...gather the four corners, tie and hang from a wooden spoon (or something) over a sauce pan to catch the whey.  i like to move this to the fridge, but i suppose it can be done on the counter if it's not too hot.  a cool, well ventilated room is fine.  this should take a few hours.  your end result should be firm and a bit dry around the edges of the cloth...kind of cheese-like..i like mine a little thicker than commercial Greek yogurt, but not as thick as cream cheese.
remove from the cloth into a large bowl and stir or whisk until smooth.  one time mine was so thick i had to use the Kitchenaid mixer and whisk it up to creamy was  delicious.
flavoring is up to you.  stir in a little honey and vanilla extract...i use a few packets of splenda and one vanilla bean...or i stir in some vanilla whey protein powder to taste....a couple of times i added some honey, vanilla bean AND fresh finely chopped ROSEMARY...YUM !
NOTE...the consistency should NOT be grainy like cottage cheese...stir or whisk until smooth.  if it is too thick you can stir in some of the whey or beat in a little cream and sugar for a richer, sweeter treat.

i hope my long instructions don't turn you away from trying to make your own skyr.  it really IS EASIER than it sounds.  once you get it down i bet you'll enjoy it more than regular or Greek yogurt. here are a few more links that i found helpful.

Jo's Icelandic Recipes
European Cuisines
Recipezaar...Icelandic curds
Icecook...Icelandic Cooking Recipes and Food

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