This article is being written to address a few things. First of all, we will explain how different frozen yogurt machines or soft serve machines effect yogurt quality and what the best frozen yogurt machine is in terms of creating a creamy, desirable product are. Next, we will teach you how to properly use your frozen yogurt machine to get the best product, whether you are using Honey Hill Farms, YoCream, Nancis, Cielo, PreGel, Yogurtiamo, CloudTop, Yoki Bliss, or any other mix for that matter.
First of all, we here at The Frozen Yogurt Review have eaten A LOT of frozen yogurt and ice cream across the country, and we have tested every machine on the market. What we have noted is this: We have had terrible, icy, watery, mushy, runny, or any other bad consistency product you can imagine. We have also had creamy, rich, wonderful product. We have had both types (good and bad) out of the same machines! For example, the Taylor Crown series C713 is considered to be one of the best machines on the market; it is no doubt one of the most expensive! Well, we often go to stores with this machine and have very icy product! Same thing with Electro Freeze machines! What does this mean? We know that these machines are capable of making delicious yogurt, cause we have it all the time, but what we have come to believe is that the machines can all make good yogurt (here’s the important part) UNDER PROPER WORKING CONDITIONS, and USED PROPERLY! We hear too often from readers who are looking to buy machines, “does the machine make good, creamy product?” The answer is almost always “Yes”, but, that does not mean you don’t have to do any work! Here are the factors that contribute to good and bad yogurt consistency:
– Overrun or amount of air added
– Viscosity setting (hardness or coldness)
– Proper cleaning & Wearable part replacement (most important is new beaters)
– Cycling product and Old or new product
Overrun and/or air added:
Overrun relates to the percentage of yogurt (in volume) that comes out of the machine, compared to how much was put in. If you put in 100 volume ounces and get out 150 volume ounces then you have a 50% overrun. Generally, in frozen yogurt a high overrun is not good, because it means that the product will not weigh as much, since the overrun is usually air volume. However, some overrun is good. It is overrun, or the added air that people usually take for “creaminess” – when air is added properly it makes the frozen yogurt fluffier. You can even see this by the color of the product. We have used machines without the air tubes and had a dark color come out, then just by adding the air tube we see the product come out a lighter color, and it tastes much different too. What’s important to remember on this is that everyone likes it different, some people like thicker, richer product that is not super “fluffy” or too creamy. It’s important to also keep in mind and consider that traditionally ice cream manufacturers and retailers have added as much air as possible to save on product costs. This is why places like McDonalds, Dairy Queen, etc have such fluffy yogurt, they add a lot of air, and save money on product (air doesn’t cost muchJ). Also, if you go to the supermarket to buy ice cream you will notice Haagen-Dazs and the more expensive brands are usually thicker and harder to spoon through, whereas the cheap 1-5 gallon plastic containers with handles are always fluffy and easy to cut through. We are putting this information in here for understanding and educational purposes. Again, everyone has different taste, and we think that generally frozen yogurt customers are expecting a certain level of creaminess (usually achieved by adding about 10-20% overrun, which is reached with air tubes, not air injection! In fact, we have never been to a self-serve frozen yogurt shop that uses an air injected model. So, make sure that when you are running your soft serve machine, that you are using the air tubes provided, and making sure you are using them properly. Most manufacturers offer various sizes of air tubes; some provide more overrun then others. Be careful if you are using an air tube that adds more air (usually has smaller hole) that you are careful to check the hopper and tube often to avoid product clogging it up.
Viscosity or Hardness setting
Soft serve machines work to create product by cooling the mix in the freezing cylinder while beating it with a motor. The cooling is done via a compressor that cools refrigerant by converting from liquid to gas, or vice versa. The amount of cooling your machine does can be adjusted via a viscosity or hardness level control. Some machines you have to take the panels off or have a technician do, and some machines are right on the face plate. Either way, it is important to know that it’s not a one size fits all. Depending on the product you are using, its ingredients, fat contents, water content, etc. will depend on the setting you should have. Other factors to consider are room temperature, and electricity available. For instance, a tart yogurt will freeze quicker than a creamy chocolate or cheesecake. That being said, it should be on a lower level. Some machines (traditionally older models) have dual controls so that you can control each side or flavor on a single machine. Some of the newer machines that are more energy efficient and ideal for frozen yogurt shops only have a single adjustment. Make sure you know what kind of machine you have. If you have a single control machine it is your responsibility to make sure you are mixing flavors with similar freezing temps, otherwise you are not going to have ideal consistency yogurt on one or both sides, and you will also be more likely to experience freezing cylinders and other machine problems.
Proper Cleaning and wearable part replacement:
Proper machine cleaning is important not only for cleanliness and sanitary purposes, but it will also affect the way your machine works and makes product. Beaters can actually make product icy if they are worn down, because they are not scraping tightly against the freezing cylinder. This allows for product to stick to the cylinder for longer than ideal and become more and more cooled until it turns into ice and then breaks off once it is large enough for the beater to come into contact with, resulting in icy product and ice chunks. Other cleaning and part replacement issues that often occur is clogged air tubes or product intake (area which product enters freezing cylinder from the hopper) – torn o rings make leaks and a dirtier, less appealing store. Clean your machines the right way, and replace parts as needed.
Cycling Product and Old vs. New product:
This is extremely important! Yogurt manufacturers create yogurt and add ingredients to help the yogurt stay firm, creamy, and tasting good. Some of these ingredients can literally be “beaten out” and go bad after time. In addition to having stabilizers or other ingredients beaten out, air can also be beaten out. When we say beaten out we are referring to product being in the freezing cylinder for any length of time without being drawn out, and in turn it becomes sub-par. This happens a lot during the winter months when business is slow. If the product is not cycling, it is generally getting worse. As a rule of thumb, any time the same product has been in the freezing cylinder for an hour or more it is susceptible to becoming icier, and less fluffy. Also, some products will literally go bad after a couple days and start to “droop” in the cup and look and feel soft – even though they are the correct temperature and being cooled enough. Sometimes you will just have to throw this product out. Some manufacturers make better product in these terms than others, but this has nothing to do with the machines you are running. Again it is either the product, or the way YOU or your Employees are running the machines. Suggestions are as follows: use your air tubes properly, sometimes adjust the air tube up or down depending on the thickness of the product (ask your sales rep for more details). Keep the product cycling, go up to the machine throughout the day (as often as possible) and try the yogurt! If it doesn’t taste good make proper adjustments, put the machine harder or less hard, and if it’s icy, pull some product out until it gets creamier. There are tricks you will learn for re-using this product. At night, flip your air tubes, and in the morning drain the product in the freezing cylinder and let in new product from the hoppers. This will make a huge difference!
As always, ask question! Constantly be trying your product and learning how to make it better. You are in control of the product you are serving, and I bet you that used properly, you can make the machine you currently have produce great product! Read your reviews on yelp and online, respond to the customers, talk to them, and make them happy! Don’t blame others, take control!