Store Brand Greek Yogurt: Surprisingly Non-Horrible
I love my Greek Yogurt. FAGE, Chiobani, Oikos, or Voskos whenever I find it. Too bad it's so expensive, and thus a bit of a rare treat. I recently came across a relatively cheap store brand (Fred Myers, and 79 cents per 6oz. container with a coupon, if you must know) of Greek style Yogurt, and to my surprise It's actually pretty legit stuff. In fact, it's so bafflingly not-bad as to warrant reviews of the two flavors I was able to get.
The plain variety needs a substantial dollop of honey to offset the fact that it is an almost solid block of lactic tangy-ness, but it has a peculiarly pleasant and finely grainy-smooth sour cream-like texture. It's like somebody slightly overcooked the milk that went into it, but the result is not necessarily bad. It's a texture that's alarming at first spoonful, but gets to be a little bit enjoyable once you get used to it. Ingredients-wise, this stuff checks out: cultured ultra-filtered nonfat milk, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d3 and active cultures. I didn't expect such a short, pronounceable ingredients list for a store brand that doesn't openly flaunt its quality, but it was a nice surprise. (Also, 16 grams of protein and no fat. I feel slightly better about eating butter-slathered homemade rye-bread toast with this stuff now.)
Three out of five stars, because the texture is a bit off-putting at first, and the slightly overaggressive tangy flavor.
On to the strawberry flavor, which I was only able to snag the last carton of. When I opened this thing up, the first thing I noticed was the faint fruity smell and the substantial (dime-sized) token chunk of strawberry, complete with seeds, staring up at me through the fleshy-pink yogurt. It turns out this was not just a token chunk of strawberry, as I found about five more similarly sized chunks and a few smaller shreds while I ate and read the ingredients list. The flavor of the strawberries was light, but not artificial, and it tempered the yogurt's tangy taste into something eminently palatable. I did wonder about the slightly clingy sweet aftertaste, but the Stevia extract explained that. Again, the ingredients list is refreshingly short (although the pectin worries me): Cultured ultra-filtered nonfat milk, strawberries, sugar, locust bean gum, natural flavor, lemon juice concentrate, black carrot juice (for color), rebaudioside-A (the stevia extract), pectin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, and active cultures. (And 14 grams of protein to boot.)
All in all, I give this four out of five stars, if only for that first chunk of strawberry and the manufacturers' decision NOT to use splenda/Ace-K/aspartame/high fructose crap syrup.
It still doesn't hold a candle to FAGE or homemade yogurt though.
I've found the best way to get a decent Greek style yogurt at a REALLY good price is to take regular plain yogurt and strain in a hankerchief for 2-3 hours until the moisture is gone. It turns out to be even cheaper if you make your own yogurt, but that is considerably more work. I can help you with a recipe if you would like though.
My problem is that the best Greek yogurt is made with goat's milk. I have found "Greek style" cow's milk yogurt and goat's milk yogurt, but never the combo. Maybe straining goat's milk yogurt is the answer. I even have an old yogurt strainer to use.
My favorite cow's milk Greek style is Chiobani, not so easy to find in Twisp where I live a lot these days.