Demystifying Greek Yogurt

Jun 11, 2012 02:03 PM EDT | By Carly Okyle

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Greek yogurt ice cream
Even Ben and Jerry have joined in the Greek yogurt craze (Photo : Flickr)

Greek yogurt is becoming increasingly popular – and not just in the yogurt aisle. Now there are dressings and even ice cream made out of it. For those of you who think the new craze is…well, crazy, here’s what you need to know about it.

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Greek yogurt is generally made using full-fat milk, and the straining process used to create the yogurt makes the final product thick and creamy by filtering out excess moisture. Also, it has more protein than other kids of yogurt. According to the product should have 12 grams of protein or more to be true Greek yogurt. The protein comes hand-in-hand with a higher fat content, however, so many companies are trying to figure out a way to keep the benefit while diminishing the drawback. “Yogurt from Greece contains a higher percentage of protein and fat. In the states, the tendency is to remove or reduce the fat content of the milk,” said Marja Kanning, a dairy expert with NIZO Food Research B.V., in the Netherlands. “To maintain the texture and creamy characteristics of Greek yogurt, it is possible to modify proteins along with the straining step in order to create a creaminess and thickness that resembles a whole milk product.”

In addition to taking out some of the fat from the product, Greek yogurt has changed in order to appeal to the consumers in the United States by adding in fruit flavors. While many companies change the process rather than add a step to strain the yogurt, it still has the desired feel and taste when eaten.

Some surprising companies have jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. While their Greek-style frozen yogurt might still not be considered health food, it is actually a bit healthier. As this review explains, “Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the texture of their Strawberry Shortcake Greek Frozen Yogurt. Bits of real strawberries and shortcake pieces really boost the flavor and add to the richness of the creamy frozen yogurt. An extra bonus is that it only has 180 calories per serving.”

Hopefully that clears things up. To minimize one last point of confusion – no, you are not required to smash the container on the floor and break it yelling “hoopa!” when you’re done with your Greek yogurt.

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