By now, many consumers recognize that frozen yogurt isn't necessarily the healthy treat it was once touted to be. Part of the reason for that is the copious amount of added sugar it contains, often in the form of corn syrup. Although it does have a purpose in frozen yogurt -- two purposes, in fact -- it doesn't appear in all store-bought or homemade recipes. There are pros and cons to using corn syrup in frozen yogurt, and making your own gives you control over whether it's a worthwhile ingredient.
Purpose of Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is commonly used as a sweetener in frozen yogurt. Since it isn't as sweet as regular sugar, it may be used alone or in conjunction with sugar or other sweeteners, depending on the recipe. Corn syrup also helps keep frozen yogurt smooth by preventing the formation of large ice crystals while the mix freezes. Professionals and manufacturers often use a liquid sugar called trimoline, which is similar to corn syrup in its smoothing function, yet sweeter.
A quick scan of the ingredients list of popular frozen yogurt brands reveals that, while some use corn syrup, others use regular sugar or a combination of the two. Homemade frozen yogurt recipes often call for corn syrup, but you can experiment with alternatives. Plain sugar alone tastes great but delivers an icier consistency. Sugar alternatives like honey, agave or stevia vary widely in sweetness and some have strong, distinct flavors, so a little trial and error may be necessary to get the right level of sweetness without any overpowering or off-putting flavor.
Manufacturers of frozen yogurt have a host of ingredients to choose from to make their product smooth and creamy, so if you don't like the sound of using carrageenan in your homemade frozen yogurt, corn syrup is one way to go. You could also increase the fat content to make it creamier, or add a little alcohol to prevent it from freezing completely. To prevent the formation of large ice crystals, try to freeze your frozen yogurt as quickly as possible. Chill your tools and ingredients ahead of time and, once out of the ice cream maker, put the frozen yogurt in a chilled metal baking pan before popping it in the freezer.
Corn Syrup vs. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
If you're concerned because your favorite frozen yogurt contains corn syrup, eat it in moderation as you would any other sugary dessert. However, don't confuse corn syrup with high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is much sweeter than regular corn syrup -- sometimes sweeter than regular sugar itself -- and, for that reason, may pose a particular threat to health. Furthermore, high-fructose corn syrup does not serve the dual purpose of adding sweetness and enhancing the consistency of certain foods, as corn syrup does. Thus, while corn syrup is a common and useful ingredient in frozen yogurt, high-fructose corn syrup is unnecessary and can easily be avoided by scanning the ingredients list on store-bought varieties.
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Kelly McCoy has been writing for lifestyle blogs and online publications since 2010, specializing in recipes and techniques for the home cook. She holds a B.A. from Boston University and J.D. from the University of Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.