Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt that is celebrated for its very thick and creamy texture. The process for making it includes extra steps that result in its thickness. It has about the same creamy texture as sour cream, and provides an excellent substitute. It has recently become more increasingly available in the US, because the taste and the lack of bitterness make it a wonderful treat.
Typical Greek yogurt made in Greece may use either sheep or cow’s milk. Imports to the US tend to stick with cow’s milk variants, since sheep’s milk has a tangier taste and may be disliked by those unfamiliar to it. Most US made versions of Greek yogurt use only cow’s milk.
The principal difference in creating the yogurt is that after the milk is heated and cultured, it is allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth bags, so that the whey filters out of the yogurt. You’ll note that some yogurts have an almost runny texture, or have liquid on the top when you open them. Greek yogurts don’t have this liquid because of the straining process.
The results tend to be superior when whole milk, or a combination of whole milk and cream are used to produce Greek yogurt. Companies like Fage®, which produces its yogurt in Greece and exports to the US, use milk and cream. The result is some of the most wonderfully creamy yogurt on the market, though you aren’t eating low fat food. A container, 7 ounces (approximately 200 g) of Fage® Total Classic has a whopping 260 calories, and about 30% of the recommended daily allowance for fat. Nevertheless, this yogurt can prove quite addictive (as this wiseGEEK writer can attest), especially the Fage&; varieties that come with small compartments of honey or fruit which can be spooned over the yogurt. Fage® does make skim milk, 2% and 5% versions, but they are not as creamy in taste.
Greek yogurt is an essential ingredient in the yogurt dips so loved by the Greeks and gaining popularity elsewhere. The traditional Tzatziki dip which combines yogurt with spices, cucumber, and garlic is that much better when you use Greek varieties rather than more standard US yogurts. You can even find some premade Tzatziki dips on the market, made in the traditional way, though it’s also quite easy to make your own.
Do expect to pay more for this yogurt, even if they’re made in the US. The straining of whey means that more milk is needed to produce the same volume of yogurts that include whey. One good place to look for this style of yogurt — that may also save you a little money if you become a fan — is Trader Joe’s, which makes its own brand and also imports less expensively other brands. In a grocery or natural foods store, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1.50-3.00 US Dollars (USD) for an individual-sized container of yogurts imported from Greece, but though this luxury is a little pricey, it’s still less expensive than some of the Brand name ice creams, and many claim, even more tasty.