Freeze-dried yogurt is a great treat for the trail. Both adults and children enjoy it – and you can rehydrate it with cool water to make fresh yogurt as well. We made large ice cubes here, but you can make it into drops, for young children. They quickly melt that way in the mouth. It’s great as a snack, and also can be used in trail smoothies and eating rehydrated. A yogurt smoothie bowl even, with lots of granola. Lots of ideas.
Buying it commercially prepared isn’t necessarily easy – usually the only kinds you can find are in the Baby/Toddler food section, sold as drops. Which are tasty, no doubt, but are often very sweet. Which I always find odd as normally baby foods are not sweet, but the yogurt drops are. So if you want to avoid added sugar, DIY is the way.
Btw, we did a review a few years back on the commercial ones, and also how to make yogurt out of them. Which I will also show how below, as it’s a bit different with home freeze-dried versus commercial.
And if you don’t consume dairy, it isn’t common to find coconut, oat, soy, etc versions you can buy. I don’t think I have ever seen anything but coconut bites sold, and they are super sweet, far too sweet for me.
By freeze-drying them yourself, you can use the brand of yogurt, flavor, etc. If you want to process keto yogurt, or sugar-free you can. You can do plant-based. Or you can process the super sweet yogurt if that is your choice!
Greek, regular or even homemade can be dried. You can add in extras as well, be it berries or granola. Just don’t do chocolate chips. Chocolate doesn’t freeze-dry well.
Having said that, a few tips:
Low fat is better than full fat for freeze-drying. Non-fat is even better. Fat is the issue in freeze-dried food, so the less you have to deal with, so much the better.
Keep your ingredient list short if you can. Less ingredients added, so much the better.
Greek yogurt tends to be more “dry” in texture and can be chalky in texture and flavor. Keep that in mind. Plain greek yogurt will be very strong tasting as well, flavors intensify when freeze-dried.
Vanilla Regular Yogurt.
Strawberry Regular Yogurt.
Stir the yogurt well, and portion into single servings, such as silicone ice cube trays that have lids. Gently shake them a bit to settle any air pockets. Place lids on, and put on baking sheets. Freeze till solid. (Use silicone molds, not plastic. You can pop out the frozen cubes easily, where plastic is a knuckle knocker to do it.)
How you process the cubes will come down to your machine. And what version it is. So giving directions can be iffy. We process ours in our Large Harvest Right freeze-dryer frozen (speeds up the time) and do it as a “liquid” for the settings. Hands on time is minimal. The Harvest Right freeze-dryers are automatic these days and do the hard work for you. It senses when the food is dry. But my advice is put it on at night, and it’ll be done by bedtime the next day.
Once fully dried, you will want break one into half and ensure it’s fully dry. If not, add on more time as dictated by your machine.
Once removed from the machine, bag or put into mason jars quickly and add an oxygen absorber and seal up tightly. We use an Avid Armor USV32 sealer to do our jars and bags.
We place a small portion of everything we freeze-dry in a mason jar to watch for moisture issues, which sometimes do pop up. Better to know there is an issue, than down the road when you are planning on eating it.
Rehydrating Freeze-dried yogurt:
We found about 4 ice cubes makes about ¼ cup crushed powder. Always measure after crushing into a fine powder.
¼ cup powder was 18 grams in weight.
I find pressing on it with a measuring cup work well to crush it.
As for the rehydration? Start low with cool water and stir it in. We started with 2 Tablespoons, stirring well. I added in a 3rd tablespoon and let sit for 10 minutes to fully hydrate. It was thicker than when fresh, but it was kind of fun to be able to have it thick. Stir in water as you like, to thin it out. It tastes the same as before it was freeze-dried. Just a lot less weight to pack, and no spoilage.
I’d say ¼ cup powder is good for smaller children. Adults may want to double that.
Now then, if you are going to carry it for children who love yogurt, I’d recommend sealing portions into smaller mylar bags for ease of use. These bags can be sealed with the air chamber mentioned above.
See here for our review of our Harvest Right machine last year.
FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that give us commissions on products purchased. These items are what we used in the article – and have been tested by us.