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Strained yogurt, yogurt cheese, labneh, or Greek yogurt is yogurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese, while preserving yogurt's distinctive sour taste. Like many yogurts, strained yogurt is often made from milk which has been enriched by boiling off some of the water content, and sometimes by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk.

Yogurt strained through muslin is a traditional food in the Levant, Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, and South Asia, where it is often used in cooking, as it is high enough in fat not to curdle at higher temperatures. Dishes may be cooked or raw, and may be savoury or sweet. Due to the straining process to remove excess whey, even non-fat varieties are rich and creamy.

In western Europe and the US, strained yogurt has become increasingly popular because it is richer in texture than unstrained yogurt, and higher in protein. Since the straining process removes some of the lactose, strained yogurt is lower in sugar and carbohydrates than unstrained yogurt.[1]

Most of the recent growth in the $4.1 billion yogurt industry in the United States has come from the strained yogurt segment.[2][3] In the West, the term "Greek yogurt" has become synonymous with strained yogurt due to successful marketing by the Greek FAGE brand, though yogurt in Greece is typically not strained. "Greek-style" yogurt is similar to Greek strained yogurt, but may be thickened with thickening agents,[4] or if made the traditional way, is based on domestic (rather than Greek) milk.[5]



In Turkey, strained yogurt is known as süzme yoğurt ("strained yogurt") or kese yoğurdu ("bag yogurt"). Water is sometimes added to it. Strained is used in Turkish mezzes and dips such as haydari.


Strained yogurt ("στραγγιστό γιαούρτι" straggistó giaoúrti in Greek) is used in Greek food mostly as the base for tzatziki dip and as a dessert, with honey, sour cherry syrup, or spoon sweets often served on top. A few savoury Greek dishes use strained yogurt. In Greece, strained yogurt, like yogurt in general, is traditionally made from sheep's milk. More recently, cow's milk is often used, especially in industrial production.[6]


Similarly, strained yogurt is widely used in Cypriot cuisine not only as an ingredient in recipes, but also on its own or as a supplement to a dish. In Cyprus, strained yogurt is usually made from cow's milk.

Middle East

Labneh (also known as labni, lebni or zabedi) is popular in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Besides being used fresh, labneh is also dried then formed into balls, sometimes covered with herbs or spices, and stored in olive oil. Labneh is a popular mezze dish and sandwich ingredient. The flavour depends largely on the sort of milk used: labneh from cow's milk has a rather mild flavour. Also the quality of olive oil topping influences the taste of labneh. Milk from camels and other animals is used in labneh production in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.


While Bedouin will also eat fresh labneh, they also produce a dry, hard labneh that can be stored. For that, the strained labneh is pressed in its cheese cloth between two heavy stones and later sun dried. This dry labneh is often eaten with khubz (Arabic bread), in which both the freshly made khubz and the labneh are mixed with water, animal fat, and salt. Mashed into a porridge, and rolled into balls using the right hand, then eaten like kabsa. It is similar to the stringy, dry, yak cheese cubes made by Tibetan nomads.

Palestinian and Israeli

Labneh (also Labaneh) is made by straining the liquid out of yogurt until it takes on a consistency similar to a soft cheese. It tastes like tart sour cream or heavy Greek yogurt. and is a common breakfast dip. [7]It is usually eaten in a fashion similar to hummus, spread on a plate and drizzled with olive oil. It is also an ingredient in jameed and mansaf. Labneh can also be purchased in the form of small white balls immersed in olive oil.[8]


In Jordan, labneh is very common for breakfast, sandwiches and mezze too. It comes in two forms: soft labneh, which is manufactured and sold in large quantities at supermarkets, and hard labneh, which is sold in small shops in towns such as Jerash, Ajloun and Kerak. Each town makes labneh in small factories which also make other dairy products like jameed and salted White Cheese. Hard labneh is stored in olive oil, which adds to its flavour.

Labneh bil zayit 'labneh in oil' consists of small balls of dry labneh kept under oil, where it can be preserved for over a year. As it ages it turns more sour.

Labneh malboudeh is drained labneh.


In Egypt, yogurt, both strained and unstrained, is called "zabadi" ("laban" meaning "milk" in Egyptian Arabic). Some may call the strained variety labneh under Lebanese influence. Both strained and unstrained yogurt are eaten with accompaniments both savoury (e.g. olives and oil) and sweet (e.g. honey) as a snack or breakfast item. Imported Turkish labneh has become a popular trend (particularly Pinar brand), with Egypt's President brand making their own cream cheese-like version.

Central Asia

Strained yogurt in Iran is called Mâst Chekide and is usually used for making dips, or served as a side dish. In Northern Iran, Mâst Chekide is a variety of kefir with a distinct sour taste. It is usually mixed with fresh herbs in a pesto-like purée called Delal. Yogurt is a side dish to all Iranian meals. Strained yogurt is used as dips and various appetizers with multitudes of ingredients: cucumbers, onions, shallots, fresh herbs (dill, spearmint, parsley, cilantro), spinach, walnuts, zereshk, garlic, etc. The most popular appetizers are spinach or eggplant borani, ‘’Mâst-o-Khiâr’’ with cucumber, spring onions and herbs, or ‘’Mâst-Musir’’ with wild shallots. In Afghanistan and other central Asian countries (i.e. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), a type of strained yogurt called "Chaka" is eaten.[9]

South Asia

In south Asia (primarily Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), regular unstrained yogurt (dahi or curd), made from cow or water buffalo milk, it is often sold in disposable clay bowls called kulhar (Hindi-Urdu: कुल्हड़ or کلہڑ / Sinhalese: මී කිරි) . Kept for a couple of hours in its clay pot, some of the water evaporates through the unfired clay's pores.It also cools the curd due to evaporation. But true strained yogurt (chakka) is made by draining dahi in a cloth.

Shrikhand is an Indian dessert ( often eaten with poori) made with strained yogurt and sugar, saffron, cardamom, diced fruit and nuts mixed in. It is particularly popular in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra, where dairy producers market shrikhand similar to ice cream. In Pashtun-dominated regions of Pakistan a strained yogurt known as chaka is often consumed with rice and meat dishes.

United States and Canada

Strained yogurt (often marketed as "Greek yogurt") has become popular in the United States and Canada,[1] where it is often used as a lower-calorie substitute for sour cream or crème fraîche.[10]

"Greek yogurt" brands in North America include Chobani, Dannon Oikos, FAGE, Olympus, Stonyfield organic Oikos, Yoplait and Voskos. FAGE began importing their Greek products in 1998 and opened a domestic production plant in Johnstown, New York, in 2008.[11] Chobani, based in New Berlin, New York, began marketing their Greek-style yogurt in 2007. The Voskos brand entered the US market in 2009 with imported Greek yogurt products at 10%, 2%, and 0% milkfat.[12] Stonyfield Farms, owned by Groupe Danone, introduced Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt in 2007; Danone began marketing a non-organic Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt in 2011 and also produced a now discontinued blended Greek-style yogurt under the Activia Selects brand;[13] Dannon Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt was introduced in 2012 and boasts being the lightest Greek yogurt with fruit,[14] and Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013.[15] General Mills introduced a Greek-style yogurt under the Yoplait brand name in early 2010 which was discontinued and replaced by Yoplait Greek 100 in August 2012.[16] Activia Greek yogurt was re-introduced in 2013, and in July 2012 took over US distribution and sales of Canadian Liberté’s Greek brands. In Canada, Yoplait was launched in January 2013, and is packaged with toppings.[17]

The characteristic thick texture and high protein content are achieved through either or both of two processing steps. The milk may be concentrated by ultrafiltration to remove a portion of the water before addition of yogurt cultures.[11]


Strained yogurt is called jocoque in Mexico. It was popularised by local producers of Lebanese origin and is widely popular in the country. The name jocoque is Nahuatl, and is also used for an indigenous cultured milk product similar to labneh.[19]

Northern Europe

Strained yogurt, in full-, low-, and no-fat versions, has become popular in northern European cookery as a low-calorie alternative to cream in recipes. It is typically marketed as "Greek" or "Turkish" yogurt.

In Denmark, a type of strained yogurt named ymer is available. In contrast to the Greek and Turkish variety, only a minor amount of whey is drained off in the production process.[20] Ymer is traditionally consumed with the addition of ymerdrys (lit. Danish: ymer sprinkle), a mixture of bread crumbs made from rugbrød and brown sugar. Like other types of soured dairy products, ymer is often consumed at breakfast. Strained yogurt topped with muesli and maple syrup is often served at brunch in cafés in Denmark.

Production issues

In the production of strained yogurt, a by-product called "acid whey", composed of water, yogurt cultures, protein, and lactose, is produced. In the United States, the mixture is illegal to dump, as it removes oxygen from the water it is dumped in; aquatic life subsequently dies. Farmers have used the whey to mix with animal feed and fertilizer, and the lactose has been used to produce methane for electricity.[21]

See also

Food portal
  • List of dairy products


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