Co-Founder of Lick, Ky Wright, describes his experience of creating perfect frozen yogurt
Updated in May 2015
We started making and selling frozen yogurt aged seventeen, as a summer business during our school and university holidays. Five years later, we'd saved enough money to open the UK's first ever frozen yogurt shop in Brighton and avoid real jobs. In the beginning we simply froze fat-free yogurt with fresh fruit stirred in. The taste was nice but the texture was hard and icy. We decided we were going to make the best frozen yogurt in the world and began developing new recipes and production techniques.
We spent years trialling variations of the existing method of production, where an amount of yogurt is added to a traditional ice cream base containing sugar, fat and stabilisers. This is how every other frozen yogurt is still made. The percentage of yogurt varies from 6% (in Ben & Jerry’s frozen yogurt*) up to 60%. It is not possible to increase the ratio of yogurt much beyond 60% because there is a minimum volume of liquid required to dissolve the ingredients that constitute the ice cream base mix. We weren't satisfied with this method which dilutes the yogurt taste and produces what should more accurately be called 'ice cream with added yogurt'. Then I was fortunate enough to meet a food scientist, who was mostly retired and had come in to our store for a Lick. We became good friends and began work in the homemade lab under the store on a completely new method of making frozen yogurt. It took a year and hundreds of trials to develop the process and the same again to refine it. The solution was to hydrate beet sugar and natural stabilisers in fresh skimmed milk, then inoculate this mix with yogurt cultures. After a sixteen hour incubation the entire mix becomes yogurt which is ready to be frozen without the addition of any other ingredients. Frozen yogurt that actually tastes of yogurt, because there's nothing else in it, was now possible.
Perfect frozen yogurt is harmony of taste and texture. Ice cream has a creamy texture because the high fat content in cream prevents the movement of water and the formation of ice crystals. To make frozen yogurt creamy, fat needs to be replaced with something else which performs the same role. We discovered that it was possible using a specific combination of increased milk proteins, stabilisers and yogurt cultures to create matrices that inhibit water movement, preventing ice crystallisation. Milk from Jersey cows naturally contains higher levels of protein than other milk and it is possible to extract the required stabilisers from seaweed so there is no need for any fat or artificial ingredients.
We didn't begin selling our frozen yogurt before it was ready so when we entered the market we were the best rather than the first. Lick was independently consumer tested** alongside the other available products and came top in every category, including taste, texture and 'natural yogurt taste'. Lick is still the only frozen yogurt in the world which is fat-free, completely natural and made of 100% yogurt. For ten years we dreamt of perfect frozen yogurt. Perfection, like absolute truth, is approached in gentle steps, along paths to places that don't exist.
*Ben & Jerry's “Phish Food frozen yogurt”.
**Consumer testing carried out by the Cardiff Metropolitan Food Centre, 2013 - full report available on request.
Lick was founded by Ky Wright and Owain Williams. It was the UK's first frozen yogurt shop, located in Brighton. Lick is available at a number of UK retailers.