Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Skyr is a delicious Icelandic treat, that theoretically goes back as far as Viking times. It's sort of a cross between cheese and yogurt, most of it with a .5% fat content.

It's very difficult to find commercially - there's a small place in Gimli, Manitoba that makes it in Canada but the shipping usually doubles the price of it.

The largest Icelandic skyr company - skyr.is - has recently started making it available in the US at Whole Food Markets. Unfortunately, Whole Foods can't make it available at their Toronto store - I've asked. Something about the Canadian Government being fussy about milk products.

Just recently back from Iceland, I have to have continued access to this delicious treat! So I've decided to try to make it myself at home.

Understand that it's also difficult to get english language information on how to make skyr at home, and that I have no concept of chemistry, and have never done anything even remotely like this before. :)

Basic recipe that I started with:
Bring 4 quarts milk to a boil, and cool to lukewarm.
Add 2 tbsp starter (skyr) to 1/2 cup of the lukewarm milk.
Stir back in to the rest of the milk.
Add 12 drops of rennet.
Store for 24 hours in a warm place.
Drain liquid through cheese cloth.
Remove cloth, put in bowl, chill.

Nothing about what kind of milk.

I tried 1% milk first. I heated it til it got bubbles. Bubbles = boiling, right? I've always been a sort of fly-by-seat-of-pants kind of cook. Measuring is for wimps.

Added the starter, and the rennet, and turned the heat off and ignored it for 24 hours.

It didn't turn out so well - gritty and dryish.

Read some more - bought skim milk this time. Paid attention to the thermometer this time - didn't judge by bubbles alone. Brought it to 90 degrees celsius, and then let it cool to 40 degrees. Added the skyr starter, and then the rennet. I used less rennet this time (only 9 drops) - other recipes suggested an inverse relationship between the amount of milk and rennet. More milk, less rennet.

I also had trouble finding rennet. I ended up with a vegetarian rennet from a health food store. I don't know enough about the chemistry to know if this matters but I do know that rennet in it's original form is certainly not vegetarian!

I made more effort to keep this second batch warm during it's waiting time, not ignoring it entirely.

The first batch, I squeeze dried. This second batch, I just found a way to hang it in it's cheesecloth and let it drip for a few hours.

Second batch - skyr! Soft, creamy, tasty!

Pictures? turned out awful. Either the flash overexposed it, or turning off the flash underexposed it, and I didn't like the "fixes" in the photoshop.


jo said...

Oh, I tried to like. I did! I tried! There is a guy in the states who is natice Icelandic. He lamented the lack of Sky available so he started making it and selling it.
I found one, in a little yoghurt size pot for $2.79 (ouch), chose passion fruit and pomegranate. I was excited to try it. I was!
Grainy as heck, tarter than plain Fage Greek yogurt, with nary a discernible note of either passion fruit nor pomegranate. I happen to be at cooking school that day so I made everyone go around and try it. Same result. i am hoping that I just got a bad one, because if that is what the fuss is about, I just don't get it.
Good on you for making it yourself. In my cheesemaking experience (mozz and ricotta) temp is the most critical thing and acidity.

Chad said...

You've inspired me to try this myself! Where can I get skyr starter in Canada?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be loverly if some (organic) dairies in Ontario started producing skyr! I've loved it since my first visit to Iceland in 1997 and now my grandchildren, who visited Iceland for the first time in 2007, love it too.

Kristine Maitland said...

Ines here. I'm happily eating the last of the bag of Skyr Ragnarr ordered for me. I am a total convert now. We need to start a Skyr revolution and get an Ontario dairy to produce this stuff!

Neil said...

So I was feeling adventurous and tried to make Skyr over the weekend -- I don't know if it was a success or a disaster. I followed the recipes (which i had seen in various forms), but unfortunately, I didnt know if what I had was supposed to be the end-product. I felt like the Skyr I made was more like Stony Brook yogurt (a little on the watery, thinner side) than Skyr. In addition, the taste was much more sour. Perhaps it was my proportions (I just used a half gallon, 9 drops rennet, 1.5 tablespoons Skyr) -- and after 24 hours, it looked like yogurt. Is this what is supposed to happen? I saw another Skyr recipe that said that the milk should coagulate after 5 hours and then you should strain as opposed to keeping it 24 hours.

Any thoughts or revisions?