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Try This Organic Icelandic Treat!

December 5, 2013
With more than twice the protein of it's Greek counterpart, Smari is Iceland's creamy organic yogurt or "skyr."

What’s rich, creamy, and contains more than twice the protein of regular yogurt? If you guessed Greek yogurt, surprise: it’s Icelandic yogurt, aka “skyr.” It’s made with four cups of milk vs. Greek yogurt’s two to three, and gets strained 20 to 30% more than Greek yogurt, so it can also feel smoother and lighter-tasting. It even has more protein than Greek yogurt. And only one U.S. brand is certified organic. It’s Smári.

Founder Smári Ásmundsson, a native Icelander who now lives in California, got interested in organic food when his son was born. “I realized that a lot of the commercial foods out there are highly processed, loaded with chemicals, not only in the food but how the food is raised and grown,” he explains. And he remembered the protein-rich yogurt of his childhood. So he decided to use traditional Icelandic techniques (and imported Icelandic equipment) to bring that yogurt to America. Why Icelandic and not Greek? “The more you strain Greek yogurt, the more it becomes heavy, almost drying like clay in your mouth,” Ásmundsson says. “Ours stays very creamy.”

You’ll notice that all Smári yogurts are fat-free. “That’s the traditional way to make the yogurt,” explains Ásmundsson. “Iceland is a harsh place: it’s cold, the growing season is very short, and the farmers would make butter from the fat, and then found out that a great way to get more energy from the milk was to make yogurt with it. But fat, I think, is very important, and we’re thinking about making another version.” For now, Ásmundsson recommends adding a side of organic whole milk, nuts, or topping the yogurt with a little heavy cream and natural sweetener, and enjoying a typical Icelandic dessert. More ways to use Smari: as a swap for cream cheese or sour cream. “You can even add just a little bit of sugar, and make it into a whipped cream replacement,” says Ásmundsson.

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Icelandic dairy…gives new meaning to frozen yogurt.

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