Strained yogurt with olive oil
|Alternative name(s)||Greek yogurt, Süzme yoğurt (in Turkey), Yogurt cheese, Labneh|
|Place of origin||Unknown (Turkey, Greece, Caucasus)|
|Region or state||Middle East, Southeast Europe|
Strained yogurt, yogurt cheese, labneh, süzme yoğurt (in Turkey) 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, or by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk. However most strained yogurt have no added fats and are made of real 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, but low in fat. Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is lower in sugar and carbohydrates than unstrained yogurt.
In fact, most of the recent growth in the $4.1 billion yogurt industry has come from the strained yogurt segment. In the West, the term "Greek yogurt" has become synonymous with strained yogurt due to successful marketing by the Greek FAGE brand, though some Greek yogurts are not strained. "Greek-style" yogurt is similar to Greek strained yogurt, but may be thickened with thickening agents, or if made the traditional way, is based on domestic (rather than Greek) milk.
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 cow's milk.
A thicker, higher-fat variety known as süzme yoğurt ("strained yogurt") or kese yoğurdu ("bag yogurt") is made by straining the yogurt curds from the whey. In many houses yogurt is put in a cotton cloth bag which is tied to the tap above the basin. As the whey leaves the yogurt, the strained part becomes much thicker. Süzme yogurt can be kept in fridge for longer periods safely such as 2–3 weeks. Depending on how it will be consumed, a little water can be added before use. Strained or süzme yogurt is used in Turkish mezzes and dips such as haydari as well as a long-life version of the regular yogurt.
Middle East 
Strained yogurt or 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. It is also a traditional Bedouin food. 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 Labneh 
While Bedouin will also eat fresh labneh, they also produce a dry, hard labneh that can be stored. For that, the strained labneh is pressed in its cheese cloth between two heavy stones and later sun dried. This dry labneh is often eaten with khubz (Arabic bread), in which both the freshly made khubz and the labneh are mixed with water, animal fat, and salt. Mashed into a porridge, and rolled into balls using the right hand it is then eaten like kabsa. It is similar to the stringy, dry, yak cheese cubes made by Tibetan nomads.
Palestinian Labneh 
In the West Bank, Gaza and among Israeli Arabs and the Palestinian diaspora, labneh is a common breakfast food typically eaten with Arabic flat bread, olive oil and often mint. It is usually lightly salted and eaten in a fashion similar to hummus in the region, being spread on a plate with thicker edges and a more shallow centre and drizzled in olive oil. It is often served with an assortment of pickled vegetables, olives, hummus and cheese as part of a meal. Armenians who historically lived in Palestine have adopted the food as well as the name and mode of consumption. Like the Bedouin Arabs, Palestinians also press and dry strained cheese as a mode of preservation and flavour enhancement. Like in Jordan and among the Bedouins, Palestinians often use this product to make jameed for use in a common national dish shared with Jordanians, mansaf.
In Jordan, labneh is very common for breakfast, sandwiches and mezze too. It comes in two forms: soft labneh, which is manufactured and sold in large quantities at supermarkets, and hard or authentic labneh, which is sold in small shops in towns such as Jerash, Ajloun and Kerak. Each town makes labneh in small factories which also make other dairy products like jameed and salted White Cheese. Authentic labneh is stored in olive oil, which adds to its flavour.
Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine 
Yogurt, strained or not, is an important element in Levantine cuisine, eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast it is eaten with olive oil, cheese, olives and bread. One famous Levantine dish is labneh mixed with crushed dry mint leaves, garlic, salt and sliced cucumbers. Laban can be eaten sweet or salted, and used for stuffed vegetables, meat stew, and fried kibbe.
Labneh is most commonly made of cows' milk, which is available all year, but also from goats' milk from April to September. It is either eaten alone or used as a filling for pita sandwiches. It can also be served as a light dish at dinner. Labneh is used as a spread on pita bread or Marouq bread. Olive oil, vegetables, mint, thyme, garlic or other spices are usually added to dishes and sandwiches.
Labneh bil zayit 'labneh in oil' consists of small balls of dry labneh kept under oil, where it can be preserved for over a year. As it ages it turns more sour.
Labneh malboudeh is drained labneh.
In Egypt, yogurt, both strained and unstrained, is called "zabadi" ("laban" meaning "milk" in Egyptian Arabic). Some may call the strained variety labnah under Lebanese influence. Both strained and unstrained yogurt are eaten with accompaniments both savoury (e.g. olives and oil) and sweet (e.g. honey) as a snack or breakfast item.
Armenian Diaspora 
Central Asia 
In Iraq strained yogurt is called "Laban". 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.
South Asia 
In south Asia (primarily 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.
The Americas 
The United States and Canada 
"Greek yogurt" brands in North America include FAGE, Chobani, Voskos, Olympus, Oikos and organic Oikos. FAGE began importing their Greek products in 1998 and opened a domestic production plant in Johnstown, NY in 2008. Chobani, based in New Berlin, NY, 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 Oikos Greek Yogurt in 2011 and also produce Activia brand Greek-style yogurt. General Mills introduced a Greek-style yogurt under the Yoplait brand name in early 2010 and as of June 2012 was planning to roll out its Canadian Liberté brand in the US during the summer of 2012. 
As of August 2012, Chobani, FAGE, Oikos, Olympus, and Wegman's Greek-style yogurts are manufactured from only pasteurised milk and yogurt cultures. 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. 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 Chobani, Trader Joe's and FAGE, have undergone the second process. Process details are highly guarded trade secrets. Other brands of Greek-style yogurt, including Yoplait, Activia 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.  The Greek Gods brand is described as strained, with pectin and/or inulin added as a thickener. 
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.
Northern Europe 
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 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.
See also 
- "Is Greek Yogurt Better Than Regular?". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
- "Greek yogurt on a marathon-like growth spurt", USA Today 23 January 2012 full text
- William Neuman, "Greek Yogurt a Boon for New York State", New York Times 12 January 2012 full text
- Greek Yogurt Wars: The High-Tech Shortcuts vs. The Purists from theKitchn, accessed on 2013-01-24
- Voskos Greek Yogurt from Sun Valley Dairy, accessed on 2008-03-03
- Greek Gastronomy http://www.kerasma.gr, accessed on 2013-01-24
- Meyer, Arthur L.; Jon M. Vann (2003). The Appetizer Atlas: A World of Small Bites. John Wiley. p. 348. ISBN 9780471411024.
- Barbara Fairchild, Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful p. 8
- Jeff Gelski,My big, thick Greek yogurt: protein, straining methods affect texture 
- Abraham Villegas de Gante, "El Jocoque: Un Lácteo Fermentado Revalorizable" 
- "Syrnede produkter". Official Danish website of the Arla Foods Corporation (in Danish). Arla Foods. 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-12. Unknown parameter