Even before I went on a quest to find real food high protein workout snacks last month, I’d always wanted to dehydrate yogurt to see if I could have a travel-worthy, mess-free snack option that didn’t involve nuts or grains but did include healthy fats and protein. It seems that, even though I have tons of great snacking ideas in Healthy Snacks to Go, many of them either make crumbs, include nuts, are grain-based, or are like the homemade dried fruit rolls which we covered earlier this week, which are super tasty but not lasting for hungry children. Or hungry mamas.
Now you might ask, “Katie, if you always wanted to do this, why didn’t you? Is it really that hard?”
And Katie would say, “I wasn’t sure if it was hard. I’m a little scared of new things, and we eat so much homemade yogurt around here that I rarely think, “Boy, I just have too much yogurt sitting around. Maybe I can preserve some.”
But for you faithful KS readers? I did a few small batches just to learn how.
And the good news? It’s not difficult at all.
Dehydrating Yogurt: The How-to Guide
I tried dehydrating yogurt plain and with a few different mix-ins, and it all worked really well.
- Spread the yogurt, homemade or purchased, as thinly as possible (about 1/8″?) on parchment paper or the sheets that come with your dehydrator (I have an Excalibur 9-tray and I love it).
- Dehydrate at 125F for about 6 hours.*
- Check often after 4 hours since dehydrators are all a little different, your thickness might vary, and how full you fill the machine impacts timing as well.
- You want the resulting “yogurt rolls” to be totally dry – so that nothing comes off on your fingers when you touch the very center, and if you stick two pieces together, they come right back apart – but still pliable.
*Anywhere from 100F-145F is probably just fine; enzymes and bacteria die at 150F dry heat, so you’ll negate the probiotic benefit of yogurt if you get it too hot. Strict raw foodies would say not to go over 116F, although that’s when enzymes die in wet heat, like boiling. If you’re not in a hurry, I guess I’d shoot for 110F to be safe and gentle on the healthy bacteria.
The yogurt rolls store fine at room temperature, but I noticed that they smelled increasingly sour as days went by. I think the probiotics are probably dying off at room temp as well, so I recommend storing long term in the freezer and semi-long term (a few months?) in the fridge. Since it’s dehydrated, it doesn’t take up much space anyway. The freezer does NOT kill the healthy bacteria.
Yogurt rolls would be a very frugal, nourishing snack on the go if you make your own yogurt. Check out my easy homemade yogurt picture tutorial, how to make raw milk yogurt, and homemade yogurt troubleshooting guide to get started.
How Does it Taste?
Dried yogurt is pretty tangy. Like most foods, the flavors are all concentrated once dehydrated, so the sourness of yogurt is very evident. If you don’t eat unsweetened yogurt, you won’t like dried yogurt without adding sweetener.
“Recipes” for Dried Yogurt Roll Ups
If you’re dehydrating yogurt just for preparedness issues, plain is probably the way to go. (See my post on preserving dairy items for long-term storage.) If you’re making snacks, you might enjoy some flavors.
Fruity Yogurt Rolls
Blend in a blender or food processor 1 cup yogurt with 1/2-3/4 c. berries, fresh or previously frozen. Add sweetener to taste if necessary.
Pour onto parchment paper and dehydrate at 125F 4-8 hours.
Here’s what I did with blueberries:
It comes out like this:
Isn’t it funny how even the color concentrates? Love it.
I thought it tasted pretty doggone good even without any sweetener, but to my great surprise, neither Kimball kid liked it very much, even though they both eat plain yogurt every day, and blueberries are their favorite add-in. Or, they could have just been feeling stubborn and oppositional that day because I said I liked it.
Adding 5-7 drops of stevia to a cup of either the plain or blueberry yogurt rolls made a huge difference, in my opinion. It took the snack from “okay to eat” to “I would want to eat this.”
Peanut Butter High Protein Yogurt Rolls
Blend 1 c. plain whole milk yogurt with 3/4 c. natural peanut butter. Pour onto parchment.
Dehydrate as above.
The peanut butter still dries at about the same rate, maybe an hour or two longer, but it really has a different consistency:
Rather than rolling up your final product, you’ll have to crack off small pieces. It’s still shelf stable and easy to store, but not as cute.
The kids liked the yogurt with peanut butter, but my husband and I didn’t really.
Ultimately, I recommend trying a few small batches with different additions while you’re dehydrating a large batch of homemade fruit roll ups or dehydrated bananas or something. Then you’ll know what is worth the time to make in a larger batch.
My only lament is that I don’t think dried yogurt rolls would last well in a hot car over a period of weeks or months. I love to have “emergency car snacks” that are always stocked and rarely depleted, and my homemade dried fruit and crispy nuts are typically our only choices.
What snacks do you keep on hand that are truly nourishing and uber shelf stable?
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