August 5, 2011 10:21 pm

The taste test: frozen yoghurt

You can add fresh fruit if you’re in a pious mood, or chocolate fudge if you’re feeling naughty-but-nice
A glass of frozen yoghurt with strawberries

Guilt-free eating, like cold fusion and England winning the World Cup, is an endless but fruitless quest. However, we love to try. In the 1980s Proctor & Gamble began using a fat substitute in some of its snacks that passed through the body rather than being digested.

But when the process was described by some scientists as “anal leakage”, public enthusiasm for the product was somewhat dampened.

A more recent phenomenon – without apparent side effects – is frozen yoghurt. Combinations of skimmed milk, yoghurt cultures and intense sweetening agents yield a confection that has a quarter of the calories of ice cream and virtually no fat. The current fad is to buy the stuff in dedicated bars on the high street where you can add your own toppings – fresh fruit if you’re in a pious mood or chocolate fudge if you’re feeling naughty-but-nice. This column, a craven follower of fashion, has been tasting them. We delved below the exotic toppings to assess the frozen yoghurt itself and we found quite a spectrum of quality.

Our panel included the Hungry Banker (HB), the Discerning Litigator (DL) and the Gluttonous Pig (GP). The Digital Native had also committed herself to the task, until she decided on some last-minute flathunting instead. So the Hungry Banker brought along a work colleague who, it turned out, eats frozen yoghurt all day long and sometimes through the night. Meet the Frozen Yoghurt Queen (FYQ).

The winners

1. Milkinit, from 99p (cone) and £1.99 (small tub), 1 The Pavement, London SW4, www.milkinit.co.uk

2. Snog, from £2.85 (small tub), five stores across London, www.ifancyasnog.com

3. Gelato Mio, from £2.90 (cone or small tub), eight stores across London, www.gelatomio.co.uk

Seven samples were delivered and they fell into two categories. The first was frozen, white and sweet but bland – designed, it seemed, as a neutral excuse for the toppings. The second actually tasted of yoghurt which we, in our pedantic way, thought mattered. Calories were kept down by the fashionable use of Agave nectar. It’s derived from a Mexican plant and is one-and-a-half times as sweet as sugar, so less needs to be used. Many were labelled as “probiotic” – like those irritating yoghurts advertised on telly as being good for your gut. We can take such claims about “healthy bacteria” with a degree of scepticism since our digestive systems tend to have all the microorganisms they need without help from frozen yoghurt. But that’s quite enough about health.

Some quite well-known names disappointed us. Frae’s Natural frozen yoghurt fell into the dull category, while its mango flavour didn’t taste authentic enough: “kiddies’ sweeties” (DL). Moosh’s was also bland (“couldn’t I just eat cotton candy?” HB) but at least its colourful toppings amused: “a Mardi Gras headdress” (GP). Some of us liked Roskilly’s Gooseberry Frozen Yoghurt, but I suspect goosegogs are a bit of a Marmite proposition: “yes – acidic kick – you can taste those seeds” (FYQ); “not that nice” (DL).

Third came the frozen yoghurt from Gelato Mio, currently with eight stores in London: “refreshing, delicious” (HB); good dairy flavour but too sweet” (GP). Second was Snog with both its Natural and its Passion Fruit: “smooth as a cloud” (HB); “intoxicating passion fruit” (DL). And deservedly first was Milkinit from south-west London, the most authentic of all the products we tasted and in which, crucially, the sweetening had been controlled to allow the natural acidity of the yoghurt to come through: “perfect balance” (GP); “cheesy” (DL); “natural farmyard essence” (FYQ); “dying to pair this with bitter chocolate – a benchmark for froyo” (HB). Our only reservation was its over-functional name – Milkinit doesn’t quite have the punch of others such as Snog, Frog, Yog or Moosh, does it ? But perhaps I’m doing it a disservice – the “init” could be intended as the modish street vernacular for “isn’t it”. In which case I think it requires another “n”, as in “Milk innit?” Now that would not only be tasty and healthy but achingly trendy as well.

ftweekendmagazine@ft.com

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