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Dried yogurt is a surprisingly versatile form of ordinary yogurt that is often used in fairly healthy yogurt snacks. Yogurt can be dried by baking, a process commonly used to create yogurt-covered versions of snacks, such as pretzels. Alternatively, yogurt can be freeze-dried. This process yields a smooth, rich, and sweet finished product that makes a very tasty snack.
It is a simple matter to produce dried yogurt in the oven. Relatively low heat is sufficient to rapidly dry out yogurt, leaving behind only the dairy solids and flavor elements. Recipes for yogurt-covered pretzels or similar treats rely on this process. These recipes typically combine flavored yogurt and confectioner’s sugar.
This sweet coating is used to cover pretzels or other snack foods. Salty foods are often preferred, because the salt in the snacks contrasts pleasantly with the sweetness of the sugary yogurt coating. A short period of baking dries out the coating and leaves behind sweet and salty treats covered in dried yogurt. This variety of food, while tasty, tends to be high in calories and lacks some of the health benefits of other sorts of dried yogurt.
Yogurt normally contains active microbial cultures living in a milk base. Eating yogurt generally promotes good digestive health, as these microbes help to keep the digestive system running on an even keel. Some forms of dried yogurt preserve many active cultures and can aid in digestive health.
Freeze-drying yogurt often allows active cultures to survive because microbes are typically better able to handle cold conditions than they are to endure the heat of baking. The freeze-drying process allows the moisture content of yogurt to gradually sublime away in a cold and dry freezer. This type of dried yogurt may be made from any variety of yogurt and may or may not have additional sweeteners added.
The dried yogurt that results from this process has a fairly firm texture, and retains all the flavor of yogurt. This type of yogurt snack can be made at home just as easily as can baked yogurt treats. Adventurous cooks can even easily make their own yogurt with a bacterial started culture.
Commercial varieties of both sorts of dried yogurt treat are available. Yogurt-covered pretzels and similar treats are typically considered candies because of their high sugar content. Freeze-dried yogurt, however, is often healthier, and some brands are even marketed as healthy treats for infants, who can benefit from the active cultures that survive in these products.