Frozen yogurt, popularly called “froyo” is a fermented dessert that has a tart taste and creamy texture. So, what is frozen yogurt? Frozen yogurt is made by adding bacterial cultures to milk and is very similar to ice cream. However, the key difference is that frozen yogurt is made with milk, not cream and is essentially a combination of yogurt, sugar, and flavorings.
Frozen yogurt is available in stores, where you can buy it in cones or cups or you can make your own froyo at home and you can add a whole lot of toppings to your froyo like fruits, maple syrup, sprinkles, and chocolate chips.
The history of frozen desserts goes way back to Roman and Chinese empires and there is a popular tale of Nero, the Roman emperor, who sent his slaves to the mountains to bring snow to mix with fruit pulp, honey, and nectar. Compared to other frozen desserts, frozen yogurt is fairly new. Frozen yogurt was invented in 1970 in Massachusetts when a dairy employee of Hood put yogurt into a soft-serve ice cream machine. In 1971, the first “frogurt cone” was sold by a store at Harvard Square.
This Can’t Be Yogurt (TCBY), later known as The Country’s Best Yogurt produced the first commercial frozen yogurt in 1981 and by the mid-80s it became the biggest frozen yogurt franchise. In the 1980s frozen yogurt took the world by storm and became extremely popular. Froyo was available in a variety of flavors and was served in cups and cones, on waffles, crepes, banana splits, with toppings, etc.
In the 1980s, the froyo market reached around 25 million in terms of sales and the market saw triple-digit growth. Recognizing the potential of this frozen dessert, several ice cream brands started producing frozen yogurt.
However, by the 1990s the popularity of frozen yogurt waned and fizzled out. But its popularity rebounded with the launch of self-serve stores that let customers mix and match flavors, pick their own toppings, choose their portion size and pay according to the weight.
Now that you know what is frozen yogurt and a bit about its history, let’s look at what goes into the frozen yogurt and how it is made.
Frozen yogurt is made in a similar way as ice cream and has similar ingredients. The main difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt is that frozen yogurt contains the bacteria strains, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which comprises around 1% of the ingredients and gives frozen yogurt its distinct tart flavor.
The main ingredients in the frozen yogurt are milk and milk products. Usually, the milk fats comprise around 0.5% to 6% of the ingredients. The milk fat makes the frozen yogurt rich and creamy. The MSNF or (milk solids, not fat) comprise around 8% to 14% of the froyo. The milk solids consist of 55% of lactose or sugar, 37% protein and 8% minerals. The protein helps to increase the viscosity and smoothness of the froyo and prevents it from melting.
The two other most important ingredients in frozen yogurt are air and water. Air is introduced into the mixture and this helps to add volume along with water that exists in the mixture. Sugar comprises around 15% to 17% of the ingredients in frozen yogurt and usually, cane sugar or beet sugar is used. The sugar not only makes the frozen dessert sweet but also helps in improving the viscosity and body of the froyo.
The frozen yogurt also contains stabilizers such as vegetable or animal gelatin to preserve the smooth consistency of the yogurt. These stabilizers help to prevent melting, reduce crystallization and also improves the handling properties of the froyo.
Emulsifiers are added to the mixture to help blend the mixture and also add firmness to the product. There are other ingredients such as coloring, mineral salts, egg solids and flavors are added to the frozen yogurt in small quantities.
And, now that you know what frozen yogurt is, you can choose your favorite flavor to refresh you on a hot day. Depending on the manufacturer’s recipe, some brands and flavors may be healthier than others and the product may vary in terms of the tartness or sweetness, flavor, consistency and fat content. And finally, the portion size of the froyo and what toppings you add to it will determine how “healthy” your cup of frozen yogurt is.