Greek yogurts have gone beyond trendy to a classic choice that now shares space in the dairy case with dozens of fermented milk products, prized for its rich quality, great flavor and health benefits. During a recent Tasting Panel, we tried eight of the nation's best sellers and picked the top three. The winners came out on top in terms of creamy texture and exceptional flavor, with panelists giving high marks to Greek yogurt that hit the middle ground between mild and way too tangy.
The yogurts that were included were made from whole milk and were unsweetened. They were sampled in a blind tasting, with the labels revealed after everyone voted for their favorites. The top pick and third place were strained in the traditional method — rather than using pectin as a thickener — draining the liquid whey from the solids, which gives it the rich mouth feel consumers crave. Yet, one panelists pointed out that when the whey is removed, so are some of the good-for-the-gut probiotics. Then again, as resident nutritionist and guest panelist Alli Shircliff pointed out that you can give those beneficial bacteria in yogurt a boost by combining them with prebiotics, fiber-rich foods such as garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes and chicory root.
Here are the details on the Top 3 yogurts:
This Seattle-based company (that can be ordered online and shipped) uses pasturized whole milk from local farmers naturally fermented with live, active cultures for its natural, unsweetened product that serves as a base for its many flavored yogurts. A 4-ounce serving has 4 grams of fat, including 2.6 grams of saturated fat. Its nutritional breakdown also includes 10.2 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 170 milligrams of calcium. Tasters loved its thickness, "yogurt-y" flavor and clean finish, all which make it a prime candidate for savory yogurt sauces that are red hot right now.
Part of the expansive Hain Celestial Group that focuses on natural foods in mainstream and specialty supermarkets, The Greek Gods contains cultured milk, cream and pectin. It got raves for its mild, "nutty" flavor and "smooth, rounded" texture. An 8-ounce serving contains 220 calories, 14 grams of fat that includes 9 grams of saturated fats, as well as 9 grams of protein and 460 grams of potassium.
Founders of this Napa Valley, California-based family operation were inspired by the thick, velvety style of yogurt they enjoyed on a trip to Australia. Their products are "authentically strained" and start with milk from pasture-fed cows. An 8-ounce serving weighs in with 220 calories, 10 grams of fat (including 6 grams of saturated fat), 19 grams of protein and 25 percent of the daily requirement of calcium. The chef on the panel, Dana Tough, said it's his go-to choice, lauding its nice, light texture and recipe-friendly, neutral flavor.
Thanks to special Tasting Panel guests, Dana Tough chef-owner with Brian McCracken of Spur Gastropub, Tavern Law and The Old Sage in Seattle, Stephanie Forrer, social media director for The Eat Guide, Adele Eustis from Britt's Pickles and the Allrecipes' editorial team, Vanessa Greaves and Carl Hanson.