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Do You Know ... What Is Icelandic Yogurt?

Icelandic yogurt, also known as skyr, is technically not even yogurt. It’s a cheese.

So the very thing you’ll find in the yogurt aisle in the United States is known as a cheese in Iceland.

This is partly because of how it’s made (sometimes with rennet). And like aged cheese, its flavor changes over time. That’s because it’s fermented with active microbes that convert lactose into lactic acid, causing a sour flavor that intensifies with age.

But why go by “yogurt” in the United States? Not only have yogurt sales boomed in recent years, giving Icelandic yogurt a friendly entry point to a new market, its creamy texture resembles the popular Greek stuff.

Dip your spoon in, though, and Icelandic yogurt feels denser. Taste it, and it’s less tangy. No matter what it’s called, this dairy food is delicious on its own, with fruit, or mixed with harissa (for a savory edge).

Many things at once

Skyr is both versatile and deeply embedded in the island nation’s culture. It’s quintessential Icelandic food, but it came from Norway.

The Vikings brought it more than 1,000 years ago, and it became a mainstay of Icelandic cuisine while falling from popularity in the rest of Scandinavia. Fast-growing interest in this yogurt-cheese, however, is putting it on the radars of foodies across the Atlantic.