Strained yogurt

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Strained yogurt
Strained yogurt with olive oil
Alternative name(s)Greek yogurt, labneh, Turkish yogurt, yogurt cheese, yochee
Place of originGreece, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan
Region or stateWest, South, and Central Asia; Southeastern Europe
Main ingredient(s)Yogurt
Food energy (per serving)109 kcal at 100 gr[1] kcal
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Strained yogurt
Strained yogurt with olive oil
Alternative name(s)Greek yogurt, labneh, Turkish yogurt, yogurt cheese, yochee
Place of originGreece, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan
Region or stateWest, South, and Central Asia; Southeastern Europe
Main ingredient(s)Yogurt
Food energy (per serving)109 kcal at 100 gr[1] kcal

Strained yogurt, yogurt cheese, labneh (Arabic: لبنةlabanah), or Greek yogurt is yogurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese, while preserving yogurt's distinctive sour taste. Like many yogurts, strained yogurt is often made from milk which has been enriched by boiling off some of the water content, and sometimes by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk.

Yogurt strained through muslin is a traditional food in the Levant, Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, and South Asia, where it is often used in cooking, as it is high enough in fat not to curdle at higher temperatures. Dishes may be cooked or raw, and may be savoury or sweet. Due to the straining process to remove excess whey, even non-fat varieties are rich and creamy.

In western Europe and the US, strained yogurt has become increasingly popular because it is richer in texture than unstrained yogurt, and higher in protein. Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is lower in sugar and carbohydrates than unstrained yogurt.[2]

Most of the recent growth in the $4.1 billion yogurt industry in the United States has come from the strained yogurt segment.[3][4] "Greek-style" yogurt is similar to Greek strained yogurt, but may be thickened with thickening agents,[5] or if made the traditional way, is based on domestic (rather than Greek) milk.[6]


Strained yogurt contains essentially 100% casein protein, as the whey protein is removed.



Strained yogurt ("στραγγιστό γιαούρτι" straggistó giaoúrti in Greek) is used in Greek food mostly as the base for tzatziki dip and as a dessert, with honey, sour cherry syrup, or spoon sweets often served on top. A few savoury Greek dishes use strained yogurt. In Greece, strained yogurt, like yogurt in general, is traditionally made from sheep's milk. More recently, cow's milk is often used, especially in industrial production.[7]


Similarly, strained yogurt is widely used in Cypriot cuisine not only as an ingredient in recipes, but also on its own or as a supplement to a dish. In Cyprus, strained yogurt is usually made from cow's milk.

Middle East[edit]

In Turkey, strained yogurt is known as süzme yoğurt ("strained yogurt") or kese yoğurdu ("bag yogurt").[8] Water is sometimes added to it. Strained is used in Turkish and Armenian mezzes and dips such as haydari.[9] In Turkish market, labne is also a popular dairy product but it is different from strained yogurt; it is yogurt-based creamy cheese without salt, and is used like mascarpone.[10]

Labneh (also known as labni, lebni or zabedi) is popular in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Besides being used fresh, labneh is also dried then formed into balls, sometimes covered with herbs or spices, and stored in olive oil. Labneh is a popular mezze dish and sandwich ingredient. The flavour depends largely on the sort of milk used: labneh from cow's milk has a rather mild flavour. Also the quality of olive oil topping influences the taste of labneh. Milk from camels and other animals is used in labneh production in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Bedouin also produce a dry, hard labneh that can be stored. Strained labneh is pressed in cheese cloth between two heavy stones and later sun dried. This dry labneh is often eaten with khubz (Arabic bread), in which both khubz and labneh are mixed with water, animal fat, and salt, and rolled into balls. It is similar to the yak cheese cubes made by Tibetan nomads.

In Israel, labneh is made by straining the liquid out of yogurt until it takes on a consistency similar to a soft cheese. It tastes like tart sour cream or heavy Greek yogurt and is a common breakfast dip.[11] It is usually eaten in a fashion similar to hummus, spread on a plate and drizzled with olive oil and often, dried mint.

Labneh is also the main ingredient in jameed, which is in turn commonly used in and mansaf, the national dish of Jordan, but commonly consumed by both Jewish and Arab Israelis, as well. Labneh can also be purchased in the form of small white balls immersed in olive oil.[11]

Labaneh bil zayit 'labaneh in oil' consists of small balls of dry labaneh kept under oil, where it can be preserved for over a year. As it ages it turns more sour.

Labaneh malboudeh is drained labaneh.[citation needed]

In Egypt, strained and unstrained yogurt is called "zabadi" ("laban" meaning "milk" in Egyptian Arabic). It is eaten with savoury accompaniments such as olives and oil, and also with a sweetner such as honey, as a snack or breakfast food.

Central Asia[edit]

Strained yogurt in Iran is called Mâst Chekide and is usually used for making dips, or served as a side dish. In Northern Iran, Mâst Chekide is a variety of kefir with a distinct sour taste. It is usually mixed with fresh herbs in a pesto-like purée called Delal. Yogurt is a side dish to all Iranian meals. Strained yogurt is used as dips and various appetizers with multitudes of ingredients: cucumbers, onions, shallots, fresh herbs (dill, spearmint, parsley, cilantro), spinach, walnuts, zereshk, garlic, etc. The most popular appetizers are spinach or eggplant borani, ‘’Mâst-o-Khiâr’’ with cucumber, spring onions and herbs, or ‘’Mâst-Musir’’ with wild shallots. In Afghanistan and other central Asian countries (i.e. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), a type of strained yogurt called "Chaka" is eaten.[12]

South Asia[edit]

A disposable clay pot with "dahi"

In south Asia (primarily Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), regular unstrained yogurt (dahi or curd), made from cow or water buffalo milk, it is often sold in disposable clay bowls called kulhar (Hindi-Urdu: कुल्हड़ or کلہڑ / Sinhalese: මී කිරි) . Kept for a couple of hours in its clay pot, some of the water evaporates through the unfired clay's pores.It also cools the curd due to evaporation. But true strained yogurt (chakka) is made by draining dahi in a cloth.

Shrikhand is an Indian dessert ( often eaten with poori) made with strained yogurt and sugar, saffron, cardamom, diced fruit and nuts mixed in. It is particularly popular in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra, where dairy producers market shrikhand similar to ice cream. In Pashtun-dominated regions of Pakistan a strained yogurt known as chaka is often consumed with rice and meat dishes.[citation needed]

North America[edit]

Strained yogurt (often marketed as "Greek yogurt") has become popular in the United States and Canada,[2] where it is often used as a lower-calorie substitute for sour cream or crème fraîche.[13]

"Greek yogurt" brands in North America include Chobani, Dannon Oikos, FAGE, Olympus, Stonyfield organic Oikos, Yoplait and Voskos. FAGE began importing their Greek products in 1998 and opened a domestic production plant in Johnstown, New York, in 2008.[14] Chobani, based in New Berlin, New York, began marketing their Greek-style yogurt in 2007. The Voskos brand entered the US market in 2009 with imported Greek yogurt products at 10%, 2%, and 0% milkfat.[15] Stonyfield Farms, owned by Groupe Danone, introduced Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt in 2007; Danone began marketing a non-organic Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt in 2011 and also produced a now discontinued blended Greek-style yogurt under the Activia Selects brand;[16] Dannon Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt was introduced in 2012 and boasts being the lightest Greek yogurt with fruit,[17] and Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013.[18] General Mills introduced a Greek-style yogurt under the Yoplait brand name in early 2010 which was discontinued and replaced by Yoplait Greek 100 in August 2012.[19] Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013, and in July 2012 took over US distribution and sales of Canadian Liberté’s Greek brands. In Canada, Yoplait was launched in January 2013, and is packaged with toppings.[20]

The characteristic thick texture and high protein content are achieved through either or both of two processing steps. The milk may be concentrated by ultrafiltration to remove a portion of the water before addition of yogurt cultures.[21] Alternatively, after culturing, the yogurt may be centrifuged or membrane-filtered to remove whey, in a process analogous to the traditional straining step. Brands described as "strained" yogurt, including Activia Greek, Chobani, Dannon Oikos, Dannon Light & Fit Greek, FAGE, Stonyfield Organic Oikos, Yoplait and Trader Joe's, have undergone the second process. Process details are highly guarded trade secrets. Other brands of Greek-style yogurt, including Yoplait and some store brands, are made by adding milk protein concentrate and thickeners [4] to standard yogurt to boost the protein content and modify the texture. [5]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, strained yogurt is commonly referred to as "Greek" if made in Greece and "Greek Style" or "Greek Recipe" if made elsewhere. Among "Greek Style" yogurts, there is no distinction between those thickened by straining and those thickened through additives. "Greek Style" yogurt is generally cheaper than "Greek" yogurt.

In September 2012, Chobani UK Ltd. began to sell yogurt made in the United States as "Greek Yogurt". FAGE filed a passing-off claim against Chobani in the UK High Court, claiming that UK consumers understood "Greek" to refer to the country of origin (similar to "Belgian Beer"); Chobani's position was that consumers understood "Greek" to refer to a preparation (similar to "French Toast"). Both companies relied on surveys to prove their point. In the end, Mr Justice Briggs found in favor of FAGE and granted an injunction preventing Chobani from using the name "Greek Yogurt".[22] In February 2014, a Court of Appeals upheld this decision.[23][24] Chobani has not yet reentered the UK market.


Strained yogurt is called jocoque in Mexico. It was popularised by local producers of Lebanese origin and is widely popular in the country. The name jocoque is Nahuatl, and is also used for an indigenous cultured milk product similar to labneh.[25]

Northern Europe[edit]

Strained yogurt, in full-, low-, and no-fat versions, has become popular in northern European cookery as a low-calorie alternative to cream in recipes. It is typically marketed as "Greek" or "Turkish" yogurt.

In Denmark, a type of strained yogurt named ymer is available. In contrast to the Greek and Turkish variety, only a minor amount of whey is drained off in the production process.[26] Ymer is traditionally consumed with the addition of ymerdrys (lit. Danish: ymer sprinkle), a mixture of bread crumbs made from rye bread (rugbrød) and brown sugar. Like other types of soured dairy products, ymer is often consumed at breakfast. Strained yogurt topped with muesli and maple syrup is often served at brunch in cafés in Denmark.

In the Netherlands, strained yoghurt is known as hangop, literally meaning 'hang up'. It is a traditional dessert. Hangop may also be made using buttermilk.

Production issues[edit]

The liquid resulting from straining yogurt is called "acid whey", and composed of water, yogurt cultures, protein, slight amount of lactose and lactic acid. It is difficult to dispose of. If dumped into waterways, it reduces oxygen content as it decomposes. Farmers have used the whey to mix with animal feed and fertilizer. Using anaerobic digesters, it can be a source of methane that can be used to produce electricity.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Is Greek Yogurt Better Than Regular?". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  3. ^ "Greek yogurt on a marathon-like growth spurt", USA Today 23 January 2012.
  4. ^ William Neuman, "Greek Yogurt a Boon for New York State", New York Times 12 January 2012.
  5. ^ Greek Yogurt Wars: The High-Tech Shortcuts vs. The Purists from theKitchn, accessed on 2013-01-24
  6. ^ Voskos Greek Yogurt from Sun Valley Dairy, accessed on 2008-03-03
  7. ^ Greek Gastronomy accessed on 2013-01-24
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Tourist tip #242:Labheh, Haaretz
  12. ^ Meyer, Arthur L.; Jon M. Vann (2003). The Appetizer Atlas: A World of Small Bites. John Wiley. p. 348. ISBN 9780471411024. 
  13. ^ Barbara Fairchild, Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful p. 8
  14. ^ "Greek Yogurt A Boon For New York State". William Neuman. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  15. ^ "Voskos Greek Yogurt Better Than Good". Sun Valley Dairy. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  16. ^ theKitchn, "Greek Yogurt Wars: The High-Tech Shortcuts vs. The Purists" [1]
  17. ^ Dannon, "Dannon Wants To Help Operators Get Growing With Greek Yogurt"
  18. ^ Activia, "Dannon Introduces New Activia Greek"
  19. ^ Yoplait, "Yoplait Introduces New, 100-Calorie Greek Yogurt"
  20. ^ Canada goes Greek, "Yogurt wars get serious"
  21. ^ Jeff Gelski,My big, thick Greek yogurt: protein, straining methods affect texture [2]
  22. ^ Judgment in FAGE UK Ltd v. Chobani UK Ltd
  23. ^ Court of Appeal decision - FAGE UK Ltd v. Chobani UK Ltd
  24. ^ Dairy reporter "Chobani gets Fage fright, loses Greek Yogurt appeal"
  25. ^ Abraham Villegas de Gante, "El Jocoque: Un Lácteo Fermentado Revalorizable" [3]
  26. ^ "Syrnede produkter". Official Danish website of the Arla Foods Corporation (in Danish). Arla Foods. 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  27. ^ "Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side". Modern Farmer. May 22, 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 

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