|Greek yogurt, labneh, Turkish yogurt, yogurt cheese, yochee|
Place of origin
|Turkey, Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel|
Region or state
|West, India, and Central Asia; Southeastern Europe|
|457 kJ (109 kcal) per 100 g kcal|
|Cookbook:Strained yogurt Strained yogurt|
Strained yogurt, yogurt cheese, labneh (Arabic: لبنة labnah), or Greek yogurt is yogurt which has been strained (in a cloth or paper bag, or filter) to remove its whey, resulting in a relatively thick consistency (between that of conventional yogurt and cheese) -- while preserving yogurt's distinctive, sour taste. Like many types of yogurt, strained yogurt is often made from milk that has been enriched by boiling off some of its water content, and/or by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk.
Yogurt strained through muslin is a traditional food in the Levant, Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, and the Indian Subcontinent, where it is often used in cooking (as it is high enough in fat content to avoid curdling at higher temperatures). Such dishes may be cooked or raw, savoury or sweet. Due to the straining process to remove excess whey, even non-fat varieties of strained yogurt are much thicker, richer, and creamier than the conventional/unstrained yogurts.
In western Europe and the US, strained yogurt has seen rapidly expanding popularity due to a much richer texture (and to a lesser extent, much higher protein content) than unstrained yogurt. Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is also lower in sugar/carbohydrates than unstrained yogurt, which may appeal to those engaged in low-carbohydrate diets.
Most of the recent growth in the $4.1 billion US yogurt industry has come from the "Greek"/strained yogurt sub-segment. "Greek-style" yogurt is similar to Greek strained yogurt, but may be thickened with thickening agents, or if made the traditional way, is made from domestic (rather than Greek) milk.
Strained yogurt contains essentially 100% casein protein, as the whey protein is removed with the whey. Dairy whey protein is typically a mixture of beta-lactoglobulin (~65%), alpha-lactalbumin (~25%), bovine serum albumin (~8%)(see also serum albumin), and immunoglobulins. The nitrogen in milk is distributed among caseins, whey proteins and non-protein nitrogen. The casein content of milk represents about 80% of milk proteins. Casein's biological function is to carry calcium and phosphate and to form a clot in the stomach for efficient digestion. The milk whey proteins are globular proteins that are more water soluble than caseins, and the principal fractions are beta-lactoglobin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobulins. Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled to produce cheese, and it is used in many products for human consumption, such as ricotta and brown cheese, and concentrated whey is an additive to several products e.g. bread, crackers, pastry and animal feed. The rate at which the amino acids are released during digestion and absorbed into the circulation may differ among the milk proteins, and whey proteins are considered as rapid digested protein that gives high concentrations of amino acids in postprandial (following a meal, especially dinner) blood plasma. It has been assumed that whey has health benefits for centuries, and two ancient proverbs from the Italian city of Florence say, "If you want to live a healthy and active life, drink whey" and, "If everyone was raised on whey, doctors would be bankrupt" . Whey proteins are soluble in their native forms, independent of pH.
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In Turkey, strained yogurt is known as süzme yoğurt ("strained yogurt") or kese yoğurdu ("bag yogurt"). Water is sometimes added to it. Strained is used in Turkish mezzes and dips such as haydari. 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.
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.
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 sheep's milk.
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.
In Lebanon, 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. 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.
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.
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 sweetener such as honey, as a snack or breakfast food.
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.
In the Indian Subcontinent, 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.
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"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. 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. 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; Dannon Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt was introduced in 2012 and boasts being the lightest Greek yogurt with fruit, and Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013. 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. 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.
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. 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  to standard yogurt to boost the protein content and modify the texture. 
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". In February 2014, a Court of Appeals upheld this decision. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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