What IS Real Greek Yogurt? Nounos Creamery answers the question
This New York-based, family-owned and operated business creates authentic Greek yogurt
It’s no secret that Greek yogurt has gone mainstream. In the U.S., in particular, it seems every grocery store, bodega and major brand offers its requisite take on “Greek” yogurt. Unfortunately, much of this is simply marketing. Poor Greek yogurt, fallen victim to mass production!
It’s important to discern between what’s real and what’s marketing, at least we think so. Enter Nounos Creamery. The New York-based brand specializes in organic, small batch yogurt based on old-time recipes and techniques. Served in their signature glass jars, the brand maintains its eco-friendly ethos through and through. And I can attest that the yogurt is as thick as the stuff my papou used to make at home.
DR spoke with Steven Ioannou of Nounos Creamery about their amazing product, family history and search for authenticity in the *wild world* of Greek yogurt.
Nounos Creamery is a family owned and operated business, so I’m curious about your family background. Where in the Peloponnese is your family from? Did they have a history of making yogurt or dairy products there?
Our family is from a small village outside of Sparta called Kremasti and it’s AMAZING. Our families, like every family there, produced cheeses and yogurts with the extra milk of the day and perfected this over the decades. Don’t forget, there weren’t refrigerators back then, so they had to do something with the milk soon or it would spoil.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Our milk is sourced locally from Upstate NY from a number of farms, and our fruit jams can be from the US to all over the world, depending on the type.
How do you scale up while maintaining the integrity of your process?
This is the hardest part of expanding is that we are constantly figuring out ways to keep our quality up as we keep growing. The fastest and most reliable way for us is to keep our process the same and just hire more employees.
Talk to me more about using only glass. (p.s. I love the jars and keep them for storing food!)
The glass took us a year to source and we are importing it from Europe.
We chose glass for a number of reasons. It’s a great form of marketing (you see what you get)!
Also, yogurt is acidic naturally and when placed in a plastic cup will actually leech off the plastic. Think about it: yogurt produced by conventional manufacturers lasts 60+ days……Yogurt sits in the cup for more than two months. Glass, on the other hand, is externally pure. It’s the best solution to this problem. When we fill our glass pots with our handmade yogurt, the yogurt possesses the freshness and purity it had that day still weeks later. We only put 30 days shelf life on our yogurts
Finally, glass is infinity times recyclable, meaning when you recycle a plastic bottle of water they would chip it up and melt it down and use it again but it will never be able to be used for a food container, and worse off, only has a number of times this process can be used for melting. Glass, on the other hand, can be melted down and reformed over and over and over with absolutely no change in quality or purity.
What do you wish more non-Greeks knew about Greek yogurt?
What Greek yogurt actually means…. The most frustrating thing is that Greek yogurt in America means “thick yogurt” and a lot of companies cheat the process. There are things you add to milk to make it thick like gelatin or even powder milk. This is not Greek yogurt, it’s just thick yogurt with no nutritional value….. REAL Greek yogurt means the whey, which is water and various types of salts, have been drained from yogurt either with cheese cloth bags like us or more mechanical separators like FAGE. This is the only way to make real Greek yogurt as it allows the yogurt to be concentrated, which gives us a thick creamy product. If you look at the protein content in a single serving and compare you will see that the real stuff has 2-3 times more protein the non-Greek yogurt. This is the main reason why Greek yogurt is more expensive than other types.
Do you think it’s important for Greeks, whether in Greece or not, to identify with their Hellenism? Why or why not? What does that mean to you in 2017?
It’s extremely important for Greeks to identify with their Hellenism. My love for Greece runs deep and I’m very proud to be Greek. I speak Greek and produce a Greek inspired product…. 2017 Greeks living outside of Greece need to be supportive and patrons of other Greek businesses… This was the key to our success in the 70’s and 80’s when our parents immigrated here and will be the key for the new generation of Greeks immigrating here. My hat goes off to the Greeks staying in Greece and trying to sort this mess out, they have a lot of work in front of them but I know they will prevail. Don’t forget we are a country that is thousands of years old… we have gotten through a lot!
Nounos Creamery products always contain all natural, non-GMO ingredients and are Hormone, antibiotic-free, gluten and rBST free.