Yes, you can dehydrate yogurt. I didn’t think it was possible, actually. But I was put to the challenge while working with nutritionist Margaret Howard on my latest book: The New Trailside Cookbook (second book for 2013, released by Firefly in April).
Margaret and I were asked to write the book together. She isn’t a camper, but Margaret is a darn good cook. So when my publisher asked me to co-write, adding all the “how-to” parts while Margaret wrote all the recipes, I agreed. Half way into the project, however, I noticed a good majority of recipes couldn’t be made on an interior trip. They contained things like bananas, cream cheese — and yogurt. Some recipes had to stay in the chapter for campground camping or first-night-out meals. But I was determined to make some work for the backwoods. That’s how I came to realize yogurt could be dehydrated. It works amazingly well actually.
Use low-fat yogurt to keep it from going rancid. Don’t use yogurts with gelatin or other thickeners (they won’t dry all the way through). Place the yogurt onto a sauce tray when using the dehydrator or an oiled cookie sheet for the oven. Make sure it’s smoothed out into a consistent thickness, about ¼-inch (0.5 cm) thick. It’s a good idea to rotate the tray every couple of hours and flip-over the yogurt halfway through the drying time.
Time: 10–12 hours
When is it done? It should peel off the tray like fruit leather, or even have a brittle appearance with no sign of moisture. Dried yogurt should be stored in the refrigerator. Also, dried yogurt only has an approximately one week shelf-life at room temperature.
Here’s one of Margaret’s recipes from the book that includes yogurt — I’ve changed it a bit to make the recipe while out in the woods rather than at home before you go.
Apricot Sunflower Seed Cereal Bars
Crisp and chewy, this bar is a good-for-you alternative to store-bought cereal bars. The secret ingredient is yogurt, which will give your day a protein-packed start. This recipe will work with many other fruit and nuts or seed combinations.
Makes: 32 bars
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
2 cups large flake rolled oats
1⁄2 cup sunflower seeds
3 cups puffed or rice crisp cereal
2 cups chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 carton (500 g) Greek style vanilla yogurt
1 egg (can use dehydrated egg)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup liquid honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grease a baking sheet with oil. Spread oats and sunflower seeds on the pan, bake in reflector oven, Dutch Oven or Outback Oven (I prefer a reflector oven) for eight to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in cereal, apricots, flour and salt until well-mixed. Meanwhile, mix reconstituted yogurt and powered egg. Add oil, honey, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Make a well in the centre of the dried mixture, pour in liquid and stir well to combine. Spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until firm in the centre and golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.
You can make them ahead of the trip and wrap each bar in plastic. Keep at room temperature for five days, or freeze for longer storage.
If you wish, yogurt may be replaced by silken tofu for an even higher protein level.