Once you have your Spaceman USA frozen yogurt machine, what do you do with it? To make frozen yogurt, you’ll need to add a frozen yogurt mix into your machine. We’re going to go into the science of mixes and what makes frozen yogurt different from other frozen desserts.
Base mixes come in two broad categories, liquids and powders. Liquid mixes can be poured directly into the machine. Dry mixes are combined with either water, milk, or (depending on the brand) yogurt, then added to the machine. On top of this base mix, a flavoring agent is added to create the desired flavor. The machine then drops the temperature of the mix and stirs air into it, much like an ice cream churn, until it is ready for dispensing.
Why couldn’t you just dump straight yogurt into your machine? The answer is that it would freeze like a rock. Frozen yogurt isn’t just yogurt, just like ice cream isn’t just frozen milk. In order to make a dairy product scoopable or machine-ready, a sweetener must be added. The large molecules in sugar and other sweeteners in the mix combined with the stirring interfere with the creation of ice crystals. The result is a product that can go through a machine and taste soft. The more sugar that is added to a frozen dairy product, the softer the taste. Sugar and other sweeteners like corn syrup also contribute to the body of the yogurt to make it taste more substantial.
Another important part of mixes is the ratio of milk fat to milk solids (e.g. lactose and milk proteins). The more fat that is in a mix, the richer it will taste. The more solids there are, the more naturally sweet it will be and the more stable the product will be after dispensing. In general, there are more milk solids than milk fats inside frozen yogurt mixes. The exact ratio is one of the big differences between mix brands. An advantage of higher-fat mixes is that more air can be whipped into the mix. This will increase the creaminess of the flavor, but may turn off customers who are looking for a lower-fat option.
Other ingredients can be added to stabilize the mixture, such as preservatives or food gums. Preservatives lengthen the storage life of the mix and food gums add more body to the yogurt and increase the amount of time before the frozen yogurt starts to melt. Emulsifiers may also be added in small amounts to ensure a consistent product mix.
Finally, there are yogurt cultures. Some mixes have live active cultures and others do not. If you have positioned your frozen yogurt from a health-food angle, you should go for mixes that have active cultures. These may taste more tangy or sharp than mixes without active cultures.
If you have an ice cream maker at home you can simulate your own basic mixes by combining different ratios of plain yogurt to sugar and seeing what happens. Normally a homemade mix will need more sugar than a base mix from a supplier. The extra stabilizers and emulsifiers, and the homogenization process, reduce the need for extra sugar to keep the product stable after dispensing. However, if you’re not using the health food angle with your customers you could find a way to make your own mixes that work with your Spaceman USA frozen yogurt machine.