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Soft serve yogurt is a type of frozen snack or dessert similar to ice cream and involving a frozen yogurt mix that has had a significant amount of air incorporated into the final product. By including air in the yogurt mixture, the texture becomes lighter and creamier than other yogurts, while also providing the mix with a more silken body. Most soft serve yogurt is dispensed from a special machine in which the yogurt is mixed and quickly frozen when needed; it is usually dispensed from a nozzle into a cup or cone. Some soft server yogurt does not contain live, active cultures the way traditional yogurt does, although some companies sell products that can add probiotics to the frozen mixture. There also are some varieties of soft serve yogurt that have several ingredients to help retain the air in the mixture, including binders and emulsifiers.
The way soft serve yogurt is made involves mixing a yogurt base with a concentrated flavor mixture that can be either a powder or a liquid. These two ingredients are placed into a special soft serve machine, where they are kept cool but separate. When it comes time to dispense the yogurt, the machine mixes the base and the flavoring until it is homogenous and filled with air. The mixture is then frozen very quickly to prevent the formation of ice crystals that can reduce the soft and smooth texture that has been created. Finally, the completed frozen yogurt is piped out through a nozzle.
One of the key ingredients in creating soft serve yogurt is the flavored mix used to make the final product. This mix can be a powder or a liquid. The powdered version is basically flavored yogurt that has been dehydrated and ground into a powder. The liquid version is yogurt that has been pasteurized, flavored and possibly stabilized with food additives. The available flavors that can be put into a soft serve machine range from something subtle, such as vanilla, to fruit flavors and chocolate.
The flavor mixture cannot be used alone, however. It needs to be combined with a frozen yogurt base to dilute the concentrate. The base can be a thick, custom-made, strained yogurt, or it can be a commercially available product. The flavor of the base can be a simple, tart yogurt or something stronger and more defined. Flavored yogurt bases include chocolate, fruits such as strawberry, and vanilla, and they can be used to complement the depth of the concentrated flavor mix being added.
Fro-yo! It's kind of funny that people still look on frozen, soft-serve yogurt as some kind of health food. It's not. It's tasty, but definitely not what I'd call a "health food." You don't even get the good bacteria.
This doesn't mean it's not a tasty product, though. On the contrary. Soft serve yogurt is often available in as many flavors as regular ice cream, and some yogurt shops have a serve yourself option, which allows the customer to mix and match his or her preferred flavors, and then top them at the toppings bar with whatever suits his fancy. These places usually have about 12 flavors of soft serve yogurt, then offer fruit, nuts, candy and sauces for topping.