Few chains make us feel as in control as frozen-yogurt stores. Imagine all the frozen yogurt shops that allow you to pay by the ounce and serve yourself. You have a lot of autonomy in each transaction. You can swirl your own yogurt. Take only as much as you like. You can choose from a dozen or more flavors. Toppings? You can choose to add as many toppings or as few in any combination that you like. You have so many options!
Look at the yogurt cup you get. It’s a tiny serving if you don’t swirl the yogurt to the top (or even over the edge). You can see how cheap these prices per ounce are. What does an ounce feel like? I don’t. Keep track of the top-up surcharges.
Then you pay: $8 for an 8-ounce bowl of yogurt coated with candy that doesn’t really taste like yogurt.
Make your own frozen yogurt instead of buying it at the store. There’s nothing like homemade frozen yogurt if you love it. All you need are two ingredients and a little salt.
What is frozen yogurt?
Frozen yogurt, also known as frozen dairy desserts made with yogurt in place of cream and milk, is a form of ice cream. If you want, you can make frozen yogurt using only yogurt. Put some plain, full-fat yogurt into an ice cream maker and churn it. You’ll have a soft-serve slushy in 20 minutes. All you need is a little salt, olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette.
If you freeze this yogurt, it will solidify and become a brick. Sugar is needed to make frozen yogurt that you can scoop out like ice-cream. The more sugar added, the softer the yogurt. Sugar molecules prevent ice crystals from growing, so your frozen dessert will remain smooth and creamy.
The base is made up of sugar and skim milk. Buttermilk, cultured milk and powdered milk all add yogurt cultures. Corn syrup, powdered whey and stabilizers also enhance the texture.
Because fro-yo shops advertise their products as being low-fat and calorie-free, they use all these stabilizers to compensate for the higher levels of sugar and fat found in homemade frozen yogurt. You don’t really need stabilizers if you can handle moderate amounts of sugar and fat.
How to make frozen yogurt
My friend Ethan Frisch was the former chef at Guerilla Ice Cream and he has given me his best frozen yoghurt in Australia. It’s the simplest: add 1 cup of sugar, a pinch salt and a quart of plain full-fat yogurt to a blender. That’s it. You’ll be surprised at how fruity and fresh it tastes, with the natural berry flavors of the yogurt’s lac acid enhanced by sugar.
In terms of physics, yogurt is gel. It is liquid milk suspended by a matrix of polymers in a solid form. In jello these polymers are the gelatin molecules, but in yogurt it is coagulated milk protein.
From the perspective of ice cream makers, yogurt is just another type of milk, despite its custardy texture. Most yogurts have more fat than milk and the coagulated proteins add creaminess. However, to make frozen yogurt creamy, you need to add sugar.
I treat frozen yogurt like sorbet by following the master ratio of 1 cup sugar to 4 cups liquid. You’ll often see frozen yogurt referred to as “yogurt-sorbet” in dessert menus. This is because pastry chefs use this term when referring to frozen yogurt. Frozen Yogurt isn’t creamy like ice cream and shouldn’t be. It’s better with a lighter, sorbet texture to preserve the light, tangy flavor.
Because I know you will ask, yes, full-fat is better than low-fat and skim. Whole milk yogurt has a richer texture and a more balanced flavor.
What is Greek Yogurt all about?
Greek-style strained yoghurt has more protein and fat (in the form whey), and less water than plain yogurt. Why not use Greek yogurt to make frozen yogurt, since fat and protein improve the creamy texture? You could but I don’t think it’s worth it. The Greek yogurt is too creamy and when frozen, you feel like you are chewing sourcream.
Greek yogurt does have some benefits. You can mix it with plain yogurt for a frozen yogurt that is richer and similar to ice-cream. You can also use the lower water content of yogurt to add flavorings.
Imagine this: You can replace the excess whey from yogurt with a flavorful liquid. One option is to use citrus juice; another would be ginger syrup. My favorite flavoring to use is dry white wine. The wine adds a tartness to the yogurt and fruity notes. It makes it taste more like yogurt while adding another dimension of flavor. There’s nothing better for yogurt fans.
Flavoring Your Yogurt
You can add flavors to yogurt in three different ways: by adding mix-ins or toppings.
The easiest way to make infusions is with lime or orange zest. Do you have some orange or lime zest? Grate it into your yogurt and let it sit for two hours. Then churn. Add mint leaves or ginger grated, let the yogurt sit overnight and strain out any chunks before churning.
You can also add wine, spirit, fruit puree or jam. You can substitute as little as two tablespoons of yogurt with up to half of the total volume, depending on how strong the mix-in is. Take note, however, that the proteins found in yogurt can dull other flavors. So, the more bold your mix-ins are, the better.
My favorite frozen yogurt flavors are toppings, which let the yogurt remain true to its original flavor. My friend Ethan loved grated halvah. Luxardo Maraschino Cherries are my favorite. You can also try drizzles of olive or balsamic oil or pomegranate syrup, candied ginger or roasted nuts.
It is important to choose flavors that are sour or savory to counteract the sweetness of the yogurt. Real frozen yogurt is about balance. It’s sweet and tart, creamy and fresh, fruity and milky. This sounds so much better than the blandly-swirled stuff that you can buy in stores.