Making the best Frozen Yogurt mix with any machine! Preventing icy frozen yogurt, and making creamy frozen yogurt!

Hi All!

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!

Culture: An American Yogurt Company, Brooklyn, NY

Culture Frozen Yogurt Shop

Culture Frozen Yogurt Shop

Fro-yo girl here. Culture starts with the basics, making its own Greek style fresh strained yogurt. That yogurt is then used to make their own frozen yogurt. The yogurt is made with local Hudson Valley Milk and live probiotic cultures. They use no preservatives. You can get fresh, strained yogurt, fro-yo, housemade yogurt drinks, cookies, fro-yo cookie sandwiches and Stumptown Coffee.

 

FroYo Menu

FroYo Menu

One of the owners is a pastry chef who creates seasonal toppings and baked goods that complement the yogurt. In addition to seasonal toppings like “Winter Wonderland” with chocolate sauce, peppermint bark and a gingerbread cookie and “Bang Boom Pop” with housemade salted caramel popcorn, toasted chocolate cinnamon almonds and caramel sauce, Culture has specialty toppings like key lime custard, cardamom roasted pineapple in maple syrup and strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar. All sizes of fro-yo come with1 free basic topping. Basic toppings include fresh fruit, mochi, fruit purees, sprinkles, cookies, honey, nuts, cereal, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and crystallized ginger.

 

Taylor Soft-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machine

Taylor Soft-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machine

The fro-yo flavors are more sophisticated than usual. During my visit they had:

* Organic vanilla almond (+ $1): so good, with a thick, rich, smooth texture, not as sweet as usual, very natural tasting, on the sour side, the almond flavor is more dominant than the vanilla flavor

* Coffee caramel

* Triple berry

* Original

 

Froyo prices: Kids ($3.21)/Small ($4.22)/ Medium ($5.28)/ L ($6.29), includes one free basic topping.

 

It’s a cute, rustic, warm space with brick walls, lots of natural light wood and snowflakes. Cash only.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* CULTURE: AN AMERICAN YOGURT COMPANY: 331 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215

16 Handles, New York, NY

16 Handles Frozen Yogurt Store

16 Handles Frozen Yogurt Store

Fro-yo girl here. New York’s fro-yo playground offers 16 flavors of self-serve fro-yo and a better than average toppings bar for 52 cents an ounce. The emphasis is on fun and customization.

 

I found the club like décor appealing and conducive to hanging out (especially the booths) with friends. Their colorful signs are attractive, as are their compostable branded fro-yo spoons in green and magenta. The mostly white place was very clean and the customer service more attentive than average. An employee helped us with samples though apparently sometimes patrons get their own samples.

 

There was a freezer with fro-yo cakes, fro-yo cookie sandwiches and other treats caught my eye. I’d love to try a fro-yo cake.

 

Taylor Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machine

Taylor Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machine

The fro-yo is non-fat and Kosher. They had some no sugar added flavors, a few fruit flavors, 1 sorbet and 1 tart flavor (Euro Tart). Most of the fro-yo flavors were of the indulgent kind, like birthday cake, toasty marshmallow, red velvet cake, cookies n’ cream, peanut butter confession, salted caramel, coffee break and chocolate love affair.

 

The fro-yo I tried was smooth and very creamy. The fro-yo was a bit too soft but not runny. The flavors were average but with good toppings, even average fro-yo can be quite satisfying. Their Coffee Break fro-yo was creamy and smooth but had a bitter flavor. Vanilla sky fro-yo was mild and sweet. I prefer a stronger, more pronounced vanilla flavor. The crème brulee fro-yo was liked by all because it was creamy, pleasant and sweet but it tasted more like caramel than crème brulee.

 

Frozen Treats

Frozen Treats

Toppings included plenty of options, including chocolate covered things, fresh fruit, cookies, nuts, candy, mochi, cheesecake bits, sprinkles, chocolate chips, whipped cream, syrups, etc. They had some better toppings like vanilla clodhoppers, rainbow cookies, and decadent looking hazelnut crunch.

 

16 Handles partners with Trees for the Future and every 16 Handles location helps plant 16 trees a day.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* 16 HANDLES: 428 3rd Ave., New York, NY 10016

Whipp’d LA, West Hollywood, CA

Whipp'd Frozen Yogurt, Los Angeles CA

Whipp’d Frozen Yogurt, Los Angeles CA

Fro-yo girl here. Whipp’d differentiates itself from the hundreds of frozen yogurt shops in the Los Angeles area, by offering several flavors of Dole Whip, Blue Bell Ice Cream and Carbolite frozen yogurt. Whipp’d says it’s the only place in California to exclusively serve Blue Bell Ice Cream. You can get also Dolefloats, shakes, smoothies, shaved ice, banana splits and Hawaiian hot dogs.

 

Dole Whip is a soft serve, non dairy frozen dessert that is served at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, among other places. Blue Bell Ice Cream, which calls Texas its home, is beloved in the South. Despite its limited distribution, Blue Bell is the third best selling ice cream brand in the US. Carbolite is a low calorie, low carb frozen yogurt.

 

Taylor Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machines

Taylor Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Machines

Whipp’d’s décor, with its woven mats and light blue walls, evokes the feeling of a tropical island, somewhere you’d expect to find hot weather and pineapples. The tiles on the wall remind one of being at a frozen yogurt shop. It isn’t self-serve. An employee will provide you with samples (maximum of 2 per person). Standard toppings are available, including fruit, syrups, sprinkles, coconut, mochi, candy, whipped cream, and cookie dough.

 

This was my first time trying Dole Whip in non-pineapple flavors. The Venturous Vanilla Dole Whip was very sweet and very icy. It didn’t have much vanilla flavor and tasted quite artificial. Whipp’d carries 6 flavors of Dole Whip. Most were fruit flavors. The pineapple flavor was much better. It had a pleasant tanginess and a refreshing quality. The texture was firm, dense and smooth.

 

FroYo Shop, Front of Store

FroYo Shop, Front of Store

Dole whip prices: S($3.15)/ M($4.25)/ L ($5.25), toppings 40 cents.

 

They offer free wi-fi, delivery and online ordering.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

You know you love me.  X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

 

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/

* WHIPP’D LA: 7901 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046

Pinkberry Franchise

Pinkberry Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Franchise

Pinkberry Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Franchise

Fro-yo girl here. It’s frozen yogurt franchise review time again and here’s my objective opinion of fro-yo pioneer, Pinkberry.

Overview: Pinkberry is the most famous name in fro-yo. They started the tart fro-yo craze back in 2005, inspired countless imitators. Pinkberry inspired countless fro-yo shop names and popularized the sleek, space age look found in many fro-yo shops.

Pinkberry currently has about 200 locations and is doing particularly well in the Middle East and Peru.

They are seeking experienced franchisees with multi-unit management experience. Requirements are higher than the average.

Training is more extensive than what is provided by most franchises. New owners spend two to three weeks at Pinkberry College and they receive field training.

Pinkberry FroYo Franchise

Pinkberry FroYo Franchise

Yogurt: Pinkberry’s original tart continues to be their best flavor. Shops generally carry 6 flavors of fro-yo, including seasonal flavors. They introduce new frozen yogurt flavors several times a year. After quite a few fruity flavor introductions, they started offering more decadent flavors like chocolate hazelnut, salted caramel and peanut butter. Stores also sell fruit bowls and smoothies.

Their frozen yogurt is very good. The texture is consistently smooth and creamy yet refreshing. It’s balanced. While I’ve liked all the other flavors, original tart is still the best.

The toppings are better than average and they introduce new ones that complement their new fro-yo flavors. I really love the unlimited flat rate toppings policy.

Marketing: It’s the one major chain that hasn’t introduced a self-serve model. Pinkberry is more expensive but it feels like a premium place with better toppings and better service.

June 2012 002Their marketing is quite polished and stylish. It’s consistent with their emphasis on modern design (the store used to sell Alessi products, the stores feature transparent Philippe Starck chairs). The shops are attractive and friendly. Employees are well trained. Many celebrities have been seen holding a cup of Pinkberry.

Pinkberry loyalists can earn free fro-yo with the PinkCard (the mobile app was introduced last year) and as a Groupie member.

Outlook: Pinkberry is the premium brand in the category with a strong image and aspirational appeal. It should continue to do well in affluent areas but may face challenges in areas where lower priced, self-serve shops have become popular.

Pinkberry was ranked #29 on the list of fastest-growing franchises in 2012 list by Forbes and the average unit volume sales was over $915,000 in 2010.

The Basics:

  • Total investment needed to open: $250,000 – $750,000
  • Franchise fee: $45,000
  • Royalty: 6%
  • Financial requirements: Net worth of $800,000 and liquid assets of $400,000

Grade: B+

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

For more on all things fro-yo, be sure to visit my blog: http://froyogirl.blogspot.com/