Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another Viking Food Experiment

It turns out that I can try eating my flatbreads with skyr, the yogurt-like Scandinavian cheese, after all.

I was re-reading a recent Compleat Anachronist, which was about skyr and mysa and the evidence for Viking era use of both, when I noted that the author reports that the supermarket chain called Whole Foods imports skyr from Iceland.

There's a Whole Foods market about 20 minutes away from here by car.

So tomorrow, I will buy some skyr for my flatbread. I am very curious to find out what it tastes like.

EDIT: I did buy some skyr last night. I haven't had any flatbread since then, but I tried the blueberry and strawberry flavors (I'm saving a tub of the unflavored skyr to try on the flatbread.) Overall, I liked it. Skyr turns out to be more sour than yogurt (or at least the commercial variety is), and stiffer in texture. The fruit flavorings added to the batches I tried were less pronounced than they tend to be in yogurt. However, I like sour flavors, so that didn't bother me.


  1. Did you get Siggi's Skyr (from New York) or (from Iceland)? Siggi's Skyr is less sweet than the Icelandic skyr, I've found, and his plain skyr is completely unsweetened and will give you a good idea of what the Norse started with. (Or, y'know, you can make it yourself, which is always fun. :-) ) We can only get Siggi's here in MN, so I use that for my starter when I make it.

  2. Eyja, I tried My local Whole Foods has both and Siggi's, but (possibly for American food law reasons) Siggi's is labeled a yogurt which is not quite correct, so I went with the I also figured I might as well start with a skyr that is actually from Iceland, even if it isn't homemade. :-)

    That being said, I suppose I should try Siggi's, just to be able to compare the two.

    As for making my own, I have the recent issue of Compleat Anachronist that describes the skyr making process, but I lack suitable containers and, for that matter, patience with dealing with the temperature control issues. Perhaps I will give it a try, someday, and if I do I'll certainly blog about it!

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. Do you have a crock pot? I've successfully made skyr with a crock pot, but it does add time to the heating. The advantage comes when it's cooling -- you don't have to worry about the skyr cooling too quickly while its curdling. And you don't have the fret that the milk might scorch. to me has the perfect balance of flavor, and is what I try to sweeten my skyr to (or at least, my memory of it).

  4. Also, apologies for the lateness in my replies. I've gotten too used to email notices for comments that I forgot to check back. ^^;;

  5. Don't worry about the lateness. I'm still thrilled to see that anyone reads this blog at all!

    Anyway, I do have a crockpot (that's how I make my stews). In fact, I have two of them, but neither is very big--they're about the "4 quart size", but I can't imagine actually pouring in a gallon of liquid into one and getting it out without making a mess.

    To me, the problem with making skyr myself is not so much keeping it warm as knowing what the correct temperature is. I gather that you're saying that the "low" setting of a crockpot is close enough to correct; that still leaves the question of deciding whether/when you've heated the milk enough (and, of course, getting it out of the crockpot).

  6. I'm not sure why you think it would be such a mess. When I make it it's no more messy than making any other thing. Less messy than when I use flour. :-) Besides, it's not really liquid when it comes out -- it'll have already curdled. To get it out, line the cheesecloth into a strainer, lift the ceramic bit out of crock pot, and pour into the cheesecloth. It'll spray a little as it falls out, but it won't be that bad. Then just scrape out what's left out of the ceramic. I usually get my mom to lend me a hand at that part -- it's very helpful to have four hands when you're getting to the straining part.

    And no, I set my crock pot to high. If you set it too low it'll really take forever to heat up. You need a candy thermometer to check the temperature. (I've gotten mine at Target) You'll need to get it up to 185-195 degrees F for 10 min. (I just heat it close to the higher temp., then just let it cool with the top on -- I figure it should be in that range for 10 min), then cool (without cover or cover half on) to 100-102 degrees. The Icelandic recipe I've followed (I started making skyr before the Complete Anachronist came out) said that you didn't want it to cool to blood temp. faster than an hour. Reitz doesn't seem to think that matters.

    Now, if you want to go off other cues -- heat it until it comes to a boil, or if you can manage it, right before (Reitz mentions some people do get it to boiling), then let it cool until it's blood temperature. When it's blood temperature, add the rennet and the starter.

    In the crock pot, I *think* it takes at least two hours to heat up to the 185-195 temp. -- I need to locate my notes on it -- but it will depend on the size of your batch, of course. As I said, the crock pots are slow to heat up, but you don't have to worry about it burning either.

  7. It was the thought of trying to hang onto the narrow edge of the ceramic portion of a crockpot with pot holders or the equivalent while trying to pour something out of it. (It's bad enough doing it with stew, and I usually slop some of that when I'm pouring it into a storage container.)

    As for the straining part, my husband is the only person who I could reasonably call upon for another pair of hands, and we're both somewhat klutzy. But I'll think about trying it, and of course if I do I'll blog about it. Thanks for your advice, and your extra information about skyr making!

  8. Y'know...I don't think I use pot holders when I pour. Huh.

  9. After the crockpot had been on High for awhile, I would drop the ceramic liner if I did *not* use potholders or a towel, at least....and that *would* create a mess. :-) Heck, I need protection for my hands even if the pot's only been on Low for 12 hours.