What Makes Us Sweet
When making ice cream, we pay close attention to our ingredients; what are they, why are they needed, where do they come from, what makes some better than others? These are important questions we ask when we are deciding how to sweeten our ice creams. And the answers, of course, vary depending on the type of ice cream we want to make.
For most of our ice creams right now, we use fair-trade organic cane sugar from Global Organics Native Green Cane Project in Brazil. Not only does this sugar hold a higher quality that we seek, but the source itself holds values that we believe benefit our global food system. The cane is grown with recycled compost materials and natural pest and disease control (rather than synthetic pesticides), then harvested when green to avoid the need for burning practices. The cane fields also include "biodiversity islands" with native trees that help to maintain and benefit wildlife and rare species.
In combination with cane sugar, we make our own invert sugar as an alternative to using corn syrup, which is usually used in ice cream to make it scoopable. Invert sugar is one of the parts of ice cream that make us feel like scientists. Essentially, we are making a syrup by melting sugar in a pot to a certain temperature, then we split the sugar molecule sucrose into two components, glucose and fructose, by adding an acid (we use citric acid or cream of tartar). The neat part is that glucose and fructose on their own are stronger than when they are attached as sucrose, meaning that we have created a syrup that is sweeter than the sugar we started with, without adding more calories of sugar. Cool, right?!
We also decided that some ice creams just don't need sugar. Right now we have two sugar-free ice creams: Honey Chamomile and Maple Walnut. You probably guessed, but we let the local honey and maple syrup do the sweetening! No need to tell a good thing how to do its job.