How to Dehydrate Yogurt: A Healthy Snack or Long-Term Storage Option

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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

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I tried dehydrating yogurt plain and with a few different mix-ins, and it all worked really well.

  1. 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).
  2. Dehydrate at 125F for about 6 hours.*
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

I recommend simply “seasoning” it with stevia drops, raw honey, or maple syrup to taste before dehydrating. If you like it before drying, you’ll probably like it afterward.

“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:

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It comes out like this:

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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. Winking smile

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.

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The peanut butter still dries at about the same rate, maybe an hour or two longer, but it really has a different consistency:

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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.

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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?

Last chance to get in the Mountain Rose Herbs Epicurean Organics giveaway, ending Sunday!

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33 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Would this be similar to those freeze-dried baby yogurt snacks? Is the dehydrated yogurt chewy, or does it dissolve quickly?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lori Reply:

    Its more chewy, I tried to make this before hoping to get the baby yogurt snack consistancy.

    My DD loved it anyway though :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Freeze drying is so different from dehydrating – it would be REALLY cool to be able to recreate that texture, though, I know!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Katie G. says

    I wonder if one could make those yogurt covered dried fruit with this method? I used to love those :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    It would be so fun and cute to pour the yogurt on the paper then put sliced strawberries in rows in there. I bet ultimately that would taste similar…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. cathy says

    Love this and can’t wait to try it! Another whole foods, nutrient/protein dense snack I keep on hand in my purse is dehydrated goose jerky. it lasts a really long time and is wild game, home cured and dried. Even my very picky 4 year old will eat it in the car when she is hungry. I love that it is LOTS of protein! We hunt a lot of our meat, and this is the only thing that I really like using goose for. Of course, you don’t have to use goose, any type of very lean meat will work. It’s the fat that makes it not last, and since goose is ubber-lean, it is perfect for me.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sarah Butcher Reply:

    Weird I thought Pemmican beef fat jerkey and cherries was shelf stable BECAUSE of the fat………

    [Reply to this comment]

    cathy Reply:

    Not sure on pemmican, maybe it’s different from normal jerky in some way. fat is usually what gets rancid quickly and causes spoilage for things, though.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sarah Butcher Reply:

    HMMM Coconut oil is shelf stable for very long time 100% fat ……
    We are using a Cherokee recipe but the reason we have limited shelf life is our processor is unable to grind air dry pemmican with his equipment. The processor is leaving more moisture than the Native Americans in order to grind the jerky without damage to the grinding equipment. The Native Americans removed all the moisture and their product was shelf stable. We have a test batch dated October 10, 2009 and it is still ok in December 2010. Many have asked for shelf stable pemmican, and we have encouraged our processor to update to a better grinder soon.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie G. Reply:

    From what I understand, coconut oil is shelf stable because it is almost completely saturated fat. Beef fat is not as high in saturated fat.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    When I make beef jerky, the fat AND a lot of liquid comes out, so I think everyone is right- proper tallow, pure beef fat w/no liquid, properly filtered, is stable for a long time. But the moisture that comes with fatty beef makes dehydrating a bigger challenge. My two cents! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. åslaug says

    Oh, if one only had a dehydrator… though, they use electricity, don’t they?
    Oh, well… I’m NOT going to start wishing for electricity… anyone who knows if they make them… battery-operated?

    [Reply to this comment]

    cathy Reply:

    wait, how do you get on the internet, if you don’t have electricity? Solar charged laptop batteries?

    Not sure on your climate, but if it’s somewhat sunny and not too humid, they do sell solar dehydrators, and you can also find plans to build them yourself if you or someone else in your family is handy. You just need something to reflect and increase the sun’s heat, and then a way to keep bugs and animals from getting at whatever you are dehydrating. (I would also have a temp gauge on hand so you don’t end up roasting what you’re trying to dry) I’ve also seen meshed covered hanging lightweight wire shelves that you can hang indoors (like near a woodstove or source of heat, or even in a sunny window possibly) that would work as well. Our ancesters did this for thousands of years before electricity, so I am sure there are some options for you!!! :Good luck!!! Ebay and Amazon are great places to start if you want to find this kind of stuff…..

    [Reply to this comment]

    åslaug Reply:

    Regarding your first question, Cathy; a smart phone with internet =)

    I could do the woodstove thing… hmm. I just had my grandma tell me how they used to string up apple slices over the woodstove when she was little…

    Thanks for all the good ideas! =)

    [Reply to this comment]

    åslaug Reply:

    oh, and I charge it in the car =)

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Narelle McGrath says

    I just tried this with my banana smoothies I made with kefir, my 8 year old daughter said it tastes like lollies :) I’m a happy muma. Hubby was sold when I said it is a no spill version for the car.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yay, that’s awesome! I should totally try dehydrating smoothie – what a power-packed on the go snack!
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Marian says

    Is it possible to dehydrate in the oven? I don’t have a dehydrator either, but this seems like a genius no mess snack!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    It is, actually, but unless your oven goes down to 150F (many stop at 170F), you’ll kill your probiotics. Still a good protein/fat no-mess snack, but not quite as healthy. See here for more on using the oven:
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. says

    So, as a followup – I made some mango yogurt rolls just before we went camping, and I am SOOO glad I did! They kept great, even though they were left in our car the whole time (bear country, you know). I wasn’t wanting to provide probiotics, just a more protein-heavy snack. And I’m under the impression that the probiotic content falls off within a week even in the fridge anyways. Joy of Cooking recommends starting a new batch of yogurt every five days…

    Plus, it seems my baby didn’t like some of the changes that came with camping and refused to eat the baby food I brought. One of the few things she would eat was these yogurt rolls, and I was so glad to have something with the fat and protein to offer her! She was 10 mo old at the time and did great with them.

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Angie says

    My yogurt rolls turned out flaky instead of pliable. Do you know why this would be? Did I just leave them in the dehydrator (110 degrees) too long?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yep Angie, almost certainly. Sometimes adding fruit will make them more pliable too, but a shorter time should do it. Try taking them out before you think they’re *quite* done and let them sit for 20 mins or so – likely their texture will change a lot and you’ll know if they need a little more time or not…

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Angie Reply:

    Wow Katie! Thank you so much for your super quick reply! I’m preparing for a camping trip, so I hope I can get these to turn out. I recently purchased your camping handbook, and it’s already coming in handy!

    [Reply to this comment]

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