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Sopha's Greek Pantry in Saturday's Wall Street Journal

We went for the first time today. Everyone was talking about the WSJ article. The WSJ picked Speed's too - do they have a thing for Boston? When we left, even though the store was very busy, the owner gave us a cup of watermelon yogurt to share. So nice - even though I've never cared for frozen yougurt, this was fantastic: tasted like watermelon with a creamy finish.

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  1. Glad the WSJ reporter reads my posts ;-).

      1. re: L2k

        "The prerequisite culture harkens from her homeland where the rennet is found in the tummies of unweaned lambs." Say what? Is this the first that we've heard that this yogurt is thickened with rennet?

        1. re: Allstonian

          I've never heard of any yogurt that uses rennet.

          1. re: Luther

            There are several discussions around of a little rennet as a thickener for ice cream and yoghurt bases. That may explain the thick mouthfeel that people report, yet low fat content Sophia's claims.

            1. re: FoodDabbler

              ok so does this mean *she* uses rennet in her yogurt? it doesn't say that, specifically, yet i suppose there wouldn't be much sense in referencing how her homeland does it if that's not how she does it, too. hmm. not sure how i feel about rennet, tho' i do know how i feel about that yogurt, so i'll probably just try to put that particular thought out of my mind...;)

              1. re: twentyoystahs

                In this article in Edible Communities Boston, she says she simply uses a spoonful of culture from her last batch. Of course, it doesn't say if the original was started with rennet, but it sure does sound like it's a bacteria-based culture that grows as opposed to a curd-based product from rennet.

                http://www.ediblecommunities.com/bost...

                1. re: bear

                  After a few dozen batches the original rennet couldn't even be detected with the most sensitive scientific equipment.

                  1. re: Luther

                    yeah, i was wondering about that....
                    looks like someone will have to ask sophia directly if we're really curious.

                2. re: twentyoystahs

                  Also, just because they used animal rennet in the old country doesn't mean she doesn't just use recombinant rennet in her shop.

            2. re: Allstonian

              Does this help to explain the much-debated calorie rating?

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                That was the first thought that came to my mind.

                I agree with Luther that the only way to answer this question is going to be to ask Sophia directly. I was simply startled to see the mention of rennet in the WSJ piece (and puzzled - I've never seen a yogurt recipe that calls for rennet, or seen rennet listed in commercial yogurt ingredients.)

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I took a pint over to Krueger Food Lab in Billerica for testing. Here are the results:

                  CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS
                  Date Reported: 5/24/2011
                  Date Received: 5/9/2011

                  Description
                  Yogurt

                  ASH g/100g 0.88
                  FAT g/100g 19.22
                  MOISTURE g/100g 69.55
                  PROTEIN kjeldahl g/100g 4.66
                  CALORIES cal/100g 214
                  CALORIES FROM FAT cal/100g 173
                  CARBOHYDRATES g/100g 5.69

                  1. re: grok_on

                    thanks for doing this! I do need a bit of translation....

                    1. re: grok_on

                      Are you sure?
                      Fage Classic is 132 calories per 100g, so 214 seems really high
                      http://www.calorieking.com/foods/calo...

                      1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                        I'm sure. The results are cut and paste from the report. She must really drain the liquid out.

                        My off-the-cuff translation of weight to volume using my kitchen scale is 220g = 1 cup ==> 471 calories, 42.28g fat, 10.25g protein, 12.52g carbs.

                        1. re: grok_on

                          HOLY CR-P! That is a ton of calories and fat - I can't believe it... Just like a Seinfeld episode :)

                          1. re: sallyt

                            thanks, Grok...I believe it, from the way it tastes and what it does to my GI tract....and she wouldn't know, unless she had it tested herself. This is a beautiful food in small amounts..

                          2. re: grok_on

                            Very useful information. Thanks for doing this, Grok! (are you a paleo/primal blueprint eater?)

                            1. re: little.tiger

                              Primal, with occasional cupcake binging.

                            2. re: grok_on

                              Since you went through the trouble of getting this tested, are you going to let Sophia know about the massive discrepancy between these results and the ones she claims?

                              How much did Krueger charge you to do the analysis?

                              1. re: Gabatta

                                $110 for this which was "Proximate Analysis". There would have been various up charges for refinements like saturated fat.

                                I'm not going to confront her. I will continue to purchase her wonderful chicken salad and don't wish to make it uncomfortable for either of us.

                                She's been unfailingly sweet to me at every visit but I'm a bit skeptical that she could have possibly believed the low-fat 80 cal/cup line she told me months ago. I don't think I could manage to show her the results without seeming accusatory.

                                1. re: grok_on

                                  Agree -- I wouldn't rock the boat with her either. But maybe a gutless anonymous letter, just so she has the details? (I say gutless because I've resorted to this kind of thing in the past and noted my own lack of courage..., but I digress)

                                  Let her decide what to do with the information?

                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    Could just be an anonymous note with a kind "hey wanted to share this with you cause I'm a food nerd and I wanted to check it out..." No gutlessness required ;-).

                                    I'm still trying to recover from the whole WSJ, mainstream press, conspiracy against attribution for hound-found-finds.

                                    I am certain it is tied to the Roswell landing(s), fluoridated water, the Kennedy assassination, and the so called "moon landing."

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Speaking of paranoid, I think she either knows or has chosen not to know the facts.

                                      I'm a scared-y-cat, but if someone wants to volunteer to engage her in "informative dialog" I'll email/fax the report to you. Our volunteer can take it from there.

                                  2. re: grok_on

                                    Thanks for doing this. I love the frozen yoghurt and definitely continue to enjoy it. But what is the chicken salad you speak of? Always looking for other tasties to pick up on a yoghurt visit.

                                    1. re: makonna

                                      Only had it twice as availability is hit-or-miss. She uses the aforementioned yogurt in place of mayo, just enough to hold the perfectly roasted chicken together and impart a tanginess. There's some fruit (grapes if I recall) in it as well.

                                      I'd think she'll let you sample some before purchasing.

                                      From observation, the peppers stuffed with either eggplant or meat seems to be the item most in demand from the repeat Geek speaking customers. Followed by the stuffed grape leaves. No personal experience with any of this but a friend who has tried the peppers thought they were excellent but would have preferred them with less mint.

                                      1. re: makonna

                                        her finiki or melomakarona cookies- are particularly good. i do not recommend her moussaka; needs tomato and oomph.

                                  3. re: grok_on

                                    So much for my related Seinfeld references in jest... I will assume the frozen yogurt isn't fat free, as she told me. :(

                                    For now, at least, I'm not eating either. It was too suspect to me to take a chance while I'm trying to lose weight. I'll go back after I've lost all of it - but for now, I'll pass. My health is/was at risk (I'm losing, & feeling much better as a result).

                                    And many, many thanks, grok_on for shelling out all that money to find out!

                                2. re: grok_on

                                  Fantastic! Thanks for doing this! Fatty stuff. And gooood.

                                  1. re: grok_on

                                    Interesting, but not at all surprising. Thanks for posting,

                                    If this is accurate the reality is a far cry from 'the one cup contains 80 calories, 1.6 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein' which was posted in another thread. The actual figures are astronomically higher than the estimates.

                                    Calories: 471 vs 80
                                    Fat: 42.28g vs 1.6g

                                    Yikes! Seinfeld indeed.

                                    1. re: Gabatta

                                      For comparison, here are the stats for some sour cream I googled:

                                      1 cup = 480 Calories, 400 Calories from fat, 48g total fat, 28g saturated fat, 16g carbs, 8g protient

                              2. Saw the article while I was having my yogurt and honey for breakfast. Made me want to get in the car and drive to Belmont. Good stuff!
                                Enjoy,
                                CocoDan

                                1. I've been off Greek yogurt for a while....much less calcium after all the straining. However, I'm hooked on Seven Stars Farm Yogurt which I can find at WF. For their whole milk variety, one cup has:
                                  170 cal
                                  11 g fat
                                  8 g protein
                                  11 g carbs

                                  I rarely eat a cup at a time, but a nice dollop on my berries is heavenly.....and it has a much nicer variety of cultures!

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                    I'm also a fan of Seven Stars as a breakfast yogurt with fruit. Sometimes I'll add a dollop---like a tablespoon--of Sophia's on top for some extra tangy oomph. Lately, I've come to see Sophia's yogurt as a different food item altogether than regular yogurt. I use it as I would sour cream---which makes sense, given its nutritional properties and consistency are quite similar---to make frozen desserts, as a topping for cakes/crumbles, etc., in small doses.

                                    I actually prefer the looser, less dense consistency of non-Greek yogurts for eating straight out of the bowl. The Greek stuff is a bit too stiff to mix well with fruit and granola for breakfast.

                                    I am still stunned by how much fat the Sophia's yogurt has. Yes, it has an incredibly rich mouthfeel, but if it is made with 2 percent milk as claimed, it's hard to imagine that the fat content becomes that concentrated in the draining process. They must add cream to the mixture. Also, Fage Greek yogurt has a very high protein content, but Sophia's doesn't, so I wonder if the straining process is different, or if the initial product is different in terms of protein vs. fat content.

                                    1. re: bella_sarda

                                      Well, the initial product is made from a mixture of sheep and goat milk, whereas Fage is made from cow's milk - it's possible that that affects the protein content. And comparing the nutritional stats is a little tricky because Fage's numbers are based on 150 or 200 grams per serving, and grok_on's nutritional analysis was per 100 grams.

                                      I can certainly believe that several days worth of draining, which is what Sophia says she does, could concentrate her yogurt to the point where 2% fat becomes 20% fat.

                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                        Seems totally plausible to me too, based on my own experiences with straining yogurt. Yup, I'd say a 10-fold loss of liquid (and hence a 10 fold increase in concentration of solids) is about right. In her defense, Sofia may be using the nutritional content of the starting material (2%milk) and not taking into account the concentration factor. It may not have dawned on her..........

                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                          It's plausible that it could become 20 percent fat, but it actually has a much higher percentage of calories from fat than that. It's not correct to divide the number of *grams* of fat (~19) per 100 grams by the number of *calories* (214) per 100 grams. You first have to multiply grams of fat times 9 (number of calories per gram of fat), to get 171 calories from fat. As a percentage of total calories (per 100 grams of yogurt), that's 80 percent of calories from fat. (171/214 = .80 or 80 percent). Although, to perform the same analysis on 2 percent milk, you get that it has about 5 grams of fat per cup, which is 45 calories, out of 120 calories per cup of milk, which amounts to about 38% of calories from fat. Now it makes sense to me. Something that starts out with 38% of its calories from fat could definitely become something with 80% of its calories from fat with enough straining.

                                          1. re: bella_sarda

                                            Or you could say that it was 2% fat to start, and 20% to finish -- a 10-fold concentration of the fat content. The increased percentage fat calories is due to both increased concentration of the fat and also loss of the calories from sugar etc.

                                            tb

                                            1. re: trueblu

                                              Yes, as percentages of the weight of the product. The increase in the share of fat by weight is also affected by both of the factors you mention, since lost calories from sugar imply that sugar's share in the weight of the yogurt also declined. Because fat has more calories per gram than either sugar or protein, however, the change in the share of fat by weight is different from the change in the share of calories from fat. Ok, enough nutrition-math geekery for now!

                                            2. re: bella_sarda

                                              If you think that's fatty try Cabot's Greek Yogurt http://www.cabotcheese.coop/pages/our...

                                              Judging by the list of ingredients in Cabot, which does have cream listed as the second ingredient, I'm having a hard time concluding anything. Because Cabot's has 210 out of 290 calories from fat, that's around 70%

                                              Cabot's is very hard to find. I do love it, it's extremely stiff however, unmixed sour cream stiff. With some granola and fruit, cleans out bowels better than Metamucil my friends say. (I have excellent um peristaltic reflex myself, so I can't tell the diff.

                                              )

                                              Greek Style Yogurt
                                              Nutrition Facts
                                              Serving Size 1 Cup (226g)
                                              Servings Per Container 4
                                              Amount Per Serving
                                              Calories 290
                                              Calories from Fat 210

                                              % Daily ValueTotal
                                              Fat 23g 36%
                                              Saturated Fat 15g 73%
                                              Polyunsaturated Fat g
                                              Trans Fat 1g
                                              Cholesterol 75mg 26%
                                              Sodium 105mg 4%
                                              Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
                                              Dietary Fiber 0g
                                              Sugars 7g
                                              Protein 18g
                                              Vitamin A 25%
                                              Vitamin C 25%
                                              Vitamin D 25%
                                              Vitamin E 25%
                                              Calcium 30%
                                              Iron 4%

                                              Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

                                              Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
                                              Ingredients

                                              Pasteurized milk, cream, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, live active yogurt cultures (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus), Vitamins A,C,D,E.

                                              1. re: tatsu

                                                I was going to post about Cabot's Greek. I bought it once without really checking and found it delicious. The next time I noticed the 10% label and realized that it would be an occasional treat, not an everyday kind of sustenance.

                                                1. re: bear

                                                  Where do you buy it?, because I can't find it right now. I'm not scared of fat, so I used to eat it pretty regularly. +) Cabot Greek is pretty amazing, it tastes like 50% the cream tops of yogurt mixed with 50% yogurt, it's that thick. Dips made with this would be amazing. I generally like Cabot products, their Pepper Jack is just about my favorite cheap cheese and their Clothbound Cheddar is my favorite pricey US Cheddar.

                                                  1. re: tatsu

                                                    Shaw's in Waltham sells it. I can't remember where else I've bought it. It really is delicious. I'm planning on making tzatziki soon and I bet it will be amazing with the Cabot.

                                                    I also love their products. Mac and cheese with tons of the Seriously Sharp or Extra Sharp is great. I don't make it with any other cheese. I like the Pepper Jack, but love the Habanero Cheddar. It really has a bite. I'll have to try the Clothbound Cheddar. Pretty sure they sell it at Russo's.

                                                    1. re: bear

                                                      Great thanks for the tip! I love that the 'normal' Cabot stuff is readily available at conventional stores. Next time I'm at Tacqueria El Amigo, I'll get some. The Clothbound has a melt on your tongue creaminess that I haven't quite felt with other cheddars. Pretty remarkable. Makes killer Mac and Cheese but it's pricey. The story is that the Cabot family asked their cooperative of farmers to ID the best milk of all the farms, and they make Clothbound at that location only. I got it at Formaggios one time.

                                                      1. re: tatsu

                                                        I also love that you can easily get Cabot locally. Both Target and Market Basket sell it routinely for less than $2.50 for eight ounces.
                                                        You might want to check other Shaw's since they are probably pretty consistent in what they sell from store to store.

                                                        I bet the mac and cheese with Clothbound is fabulous.

                                              2. re: bella_sarda

                                                bella_sarda: I never said anything about calories at all - I said that 2% fat had become 20% fat through straining and concentration, based on this part of the laboratory analysis that grok_on posted:
                                                FAT g/100g 19.22

                                                That's obviously not exactly 20%, but it's far closer to 20 than it is to 2.

                                        2. This is written more than a year after the OP. I've been going to Sophia's for a few weeks now, "hooked" on her yogurt. She has an official looking printed set of nutritional info posted near the register. It says that there is 110 calories in 1 cup of the yogurt (I assume it refers to the 2%, rather than the fat free she's been selling). I asked her about this, and said I couldn't understand how it could be, since a cup of skim milk has 90-110 cal., before it's strained. She smiled as said, "It's because that is cows milk. I make my yogurt from sheep and goat milk which is much lower in fat!"
                                          I just looked this up online, and see that, as I thought (after leaving the store), sheep and goat milk have HIGHER fat content.
                                          I would say that she's a wonderful yogurt maker, but in serious denial (no one could LIE like that with that beautiful smile!) but then, where did she get that nutritional information that is posted. Like I said, it looks very official. I WANT to believe it. Tiz a puzzlement.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                              I've been back to Sophia's since my last post, and the bakery has redecorated/remodeled. The sign with the nutritional info is gone, so maybe she's gotten the message.