Skyr is an incredibly low-fat dairy product. An Icelandic food, it is made with skim milk in a process similar to the making of yogurt. Originally made as a traditional food by families throughout Iceland, it is now commercially produced and exported all over the world, with some major productions plant located outside Iceland. The process of making the dairy product is said to have been developed by the Vikings.
For centuries, many farmers have been making skyr from the milk of their sheep or cows. Traditionally, it was made alongside butter; the cream was taken from the top of the milk to make the butter, and the remaining substance was turned into skyr. The whey, or liquid product, is also removed and used in a number of other food processes. As all the fat content of the milk is removed with the cream, the finished product is extremely low in fat. On traditional farms, it was created as an important part of the process of harvesting crops and animals, then turning every part of those harvested goods into something usable.
Although it is often called Icelandic yogurt, it has a much thicker consistency than other types of yogurt. The process used to make the final product means that much more milk is used; the skyr comes out much thicker and heavier than more widely distributed kinds of yogurt. Like yogurt, it also contains active, healthy bacteria that are added in cultures; this bacteria is what helps carry out the process that causes the milk to thicken and become the final product.
When made by farmers, skyr was often unflavored. Once production moved into a more commercial realm, it became available in different varieties. Some companies stay with more traditional flavors like vanilla and berry, although others are experimenting with more exotic flavors such as acai, ginger, and passionfruit.
In keeping with traditional practices, most of the skyr manufactured commercially remains healthy. Extremely low in fat, it is almost always made with cow's milk when produced for mass distribution. Often, it also contains natural ingredients when it comes to flavorings. Also keeping with tradition, most skyr is very high in protein and calcium. A number of recipes are available that use the product in smoothies and dips, and in other types of desserts such as cheesecake.