While the creamy dairy is marketed as a yogurt (sold in handy serving-size containers, often with added sugars or fruit) it’s actually a skim-milk cheese, made with live cultures and strained for maximum thickness. As a result, it’s so mineral-rich that a bit of skyr left on a spoon will curl into delicate white flakes: concentrated calcium. But with a distinct tang and smooth texture, skyr is just as edible and just as versatile as any quality yogurt.
According to local legend, Norwegian Vikings brought skyr to Iceland nearly a thousand years ago, and it’s been a staple of the island’s high-protein diet ever since. It’s traditionally eaten plain, or mixed with oatmeal in a hearty dish called hræringur
—though it’s also excellent in smoothies or as a substitute in many cream-based preparations, whether tsatsiki
sauce or a sweet fruit dip.
Long a Nordic secret, skyr has only recently entered the American market on a new wave of Icelandic culinary export, catering to our clean-eating, eco-conscious sensibilities. (Their winning slogan: Sustainable Iceland since 874!) While the technicolor-packaged “Skyr.is
” comes straight from Scandinavia, there’s a home-grown alternative as well. Siggi’s Skyr
, the brainchild of an Icelandic Brooklyner, sells plain, pomegranate-passionfruit, and pear-mint skyr at Whole Foods all over the Eastern Seaboard.
So now is our time for eating Icelandic—after all, with the world’s longest life expectancy, they must be doing something right.