About ten years ago, before Greek yogurt reached its full ubiquity, the chances were good that many consumers purchased this product thinking it was the standard plain yogurt that they are accustomed to.
They took the product home, peeled off the plastic layer, only to discover that this yogurt was very different. Yet today Greek yogurt has become just as popular if not more than the plain varieties. But do people really know what Greek yogurt actually is? As well as what makes it so different to the regular yogurts? Well to begin with, Greek yogurt is much denser and thicker than the non-Greek counterparts. Where standard yogurt is just about pourable, the Greek yogurts are just about solid where you can stick your spoon into it and it will remain upright. This has to do with that Greek yogurt is strained and the regular yogurts are not. The two types are not fundamentally different when it comes to their composition. In fact, both feature milk which is cultured and fermented. Greek yogurt is a result of taking regular yogurt and placing it into fine mesh-cloth and allowing a percentage of the whey in the yogurt to drain out slowly, which results in a yogurt that is thicker along with a lot less moisture. It is these processes which also change the texture of this yogurt without removing sourness that is associated with all regular yogurts. This method is not only used by the Greeks though. In fact, straining yogurt is a very common practice throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Labneh, which is a super-thick yogurt that you may have heard us talk about before, is also made in the very same way. This is also a Greek yogurt which undergoes aggressive straining which removes enough of the whey, that the end product results in a cream-cheese like texture.
In addition, this concentrated version results in more concentrated flavors. If you enjoy the characteristics of the lactic tang which yogurt offers, you will really enjoy these thicker versions. And when talking about Greek yogurt, labneh along with other types of regional varieties, this thickness works well for sauces and creamy dips. Whether we whip up a fast roasted-shallot yogurt-dip or we use it over shakshuka or lamb chops, we really enjoy this type of strained yogurt for the creamy richness along with a bright contrast that it is able to offer specific dishes. In conclusion, the primary differences between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt has to do with the textures. You can use it as a substitute for a regular yogurt in some recipes, but you may need to mix in a bit of water or a liquid in order to arrive at the right consistency.
If you don’t you may change the moisture content of the recipe which may give you a dry result. The same is not true when trying to substitute a Greek yogurt with a regular yogurt in a recipe. This is because you will find it a difficult task to try and remove the excess moisture. So yes, Greek yogurt is actually just a type of strained yogurt. It also sounds better to ask for a Greek yogurt rather than a strained yogurt. The latter sounds loveless and sterile. Greek yogurt brings about thoughts of crystal blue waters caressing sandy and warm shores, which makes a lot of sense, because eating this yogurt takes your senses to much better places.
If you haven’t tried it before then you’re in for a treat. Next trip to your favorite store, just pick up a tub and see for yourself.