Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's not Paleo! It's Viking!!! Skyr!

To our friends and family Viking Dad loves to tell the story on how I got hooked on Skyr while pregnant with Viking Monkey Boy. I couldn't get enough of it and it did ease my grumpy tummy. Especially, when it was cold. You can imagine how truly disappointed I was when I discovered that the United States didn't carry skyr, at least when I was pregnant with Viking Monkey Boy. In a hormonal, pregnancy craved brain I even tried to buy $300 worth of skyr and ship it to California. My Sister-in Law who lives in Husavik thought I had gone bonkers.  Viking Dad stepped in and said, "No." I eventually learned to make it for myself. This was before I found Siggi's Skyr at a local health food market-yeaaarrrrrsssss later. 

What is skyr?

Skyr looks like thick yogurt, and the taste is reminiscent of it. But skyr is not a yogurt, it's actually a type of fresh cheese. It is made with skim milk, so the fat content is very low, allowing it to be eaten with real cream and sugar. It is also an excellent source of calcium.

The Viking settlers brought it to Iceland and are believed to have brought the knowledge of skyr-making with them from Norway, and developed it further after settlement. Since that time, the knowledge of skyr-making has been lost in Scandinavia. Skyr is prominently found in Iceland now. It can be found frozen, with fruit, without fruit and traditional. 

Making it takes time, but it's well worth the effort. If you are comfortable making yogurt this should be easy too.

Skyr Recipe:  Translated from an Icelandic Farmstead Demonstration

This recipe makes 16-20 servings, but can be easily reduced. 

  • 10 Liters/2 Gallons of skimmed milk. Preferably raw organic grass fed cow's milk.
  • 8-9 drops or  1 1/2 tablets of rennet. I use the white cheese rennet.
  • 10 grams skyr = þéttir  (if not available, use 1 tblsp. live culture sour cream or buttermilk. OR use Siggi's Skyr- plain)

1. Heat the skim milk up to 86-90°C/186.8°-194° F, and cool slowly for about 2 hours, down to 39°C/102° F. I use a cheese thermometer to help gauge the temperature and stay accurate.  Stir the prepared þéttir with a little boiled milk and mix into the milk with the rennet (if you are using dry rennet, dissolve in a little water before adding. Enough to make a wet paste). 

2. Remove from burner and close the cooking pot and wrap in towels or a thick blanket. (DO NOT LEAVE THE POT ON THE STOVE AT THIS STAGE!)
The milk should curdle in about 5 hours. If it curdles in less than 4 ½ hours, the curds will be coarse, but if it curdles in more than 5 hours, the skyr will be so thick it will be difficult to strain. When the milk is curdled, cut into the curds with a knife. When you can make a cut which will not close immediately, then you can go on to the next stage.

3. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or a fine linen cloth and pour in the skyr. Tie the ends of the cloth together over the top and hang over a bucket or other container so the whey can drip off. If the skyr-making has been successful, there will be little whey, and it will not float over the curds, but will be visible along the edges of the sieve and in the cuts you made in the surface. You can judge the quality of the skyr from the appearance of the curds when you pour them into the sieve. If the skyr is good, it will crack and fall apart in pieces, but should neither be thin nor lumpy. Do not put a layer thicker than 7-9 cm. into the sieve. Keep the sieve in a well ventilated room, with a temperature no higher than 12°C/53°F and no lower than 0° C/32°F. The skyr should be ready in 12-24 hours.

4. The skyr should be firm and look dry when ready. The whey can be used as a drink, to pickle food, or as a replacement for white wine in cooking.

Serve it with fresh fruit, raw sugar, fresh cream, jam, or just plain. I also store my skyr in glass jars instead of plastic. It takes on a whole new flavor. 

For more fun check out this cool blog..Breakfast in Bed(Stuy) adventures of a curious foodie in Brooklyn and beyond!

Eat Well Be Healthy

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