What’s in a name?
We have become a culture which is obsessed with labels.
Everything seems to need to have a specific name and a detailed purpose for which we innately throw things in certain boxes depending on how we think they are. Any deviation from the norm seems utterly confusing...
We have a lot of people asking us if we are BIO/Organic, or why we are "handmade".
So here’s the scoop…
(pardon the pun)
Traditionally, artisan foods are those which were produced by non-industrialized methods. Think of your grandmother’s old recipes! Traditional recipes passed down through the generations, respecting, and making-use of traditional cooking methods have been considered artisan.
Sadly, many traditions are being lost to convenience and truly artisan products are becoming fewer and further between. There is however currently a nice revival happening with artisan beers, cheeses, ice cream and bread. However, it is not enough!
The artisan producer is someone who has mastered the production and theory behind their craft. The artisan producer emphasises the importance of using high quality ingredients, and raw materials. They regard the impact of their production on both humanity and the environment. Artisan producers have complete control over their ingredient selection, production methods and recipes, which allows them to grow and develop independently and successfully over time.
Bio or Organic foods, as legally defined by the European Union, are foods which originate from controlled organic sources – they are not genetically modified and don’t use conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers or the such. For an animal product to be bio, the animals must be kept in proper conditions (as stipulated by the EU) and cannot have been fed with growth hormones and/or antibiotics. Foods which meet the EU Bio standards are marked with an official seal. But beware: there are now several different kinds of certified organic labels and each actually have different standards. Organic to one certifier might not actually mean Organic to another!
YES! we are actually Artisan Ice Cream makers! Before opening our shop in May of 2014, we spent over 5 years studying the art of ice cream making, all around the globe. Even after opening our store our philosophy has been: we are just getting started! we continue to learn and grow, especially when we go on a quest to find the right ingredients and find growers and producers of ingredients who teach us things we actually never knew!
We have learnt how to balance our own recipes, with raw ingredients. But what does this really mean?
Most ice cream is made with something which the industry refers to as bases. Bases are pre-mixed powders and come in a bag with instructions on how much milk or water should be added in order to make "ice cream". While this is a legitmate and popular method, it seems a little like cheating. For us, this is the equivalent of buying a cake-in-a-box, adding milk and baking it and then calling it "homemade". While it was indeed home-baked, all the ingredients came ready to stir, in one bag! Since analogies are so fun, here's another: buying a frozen pizza and heating it up in the oven, calling it "homemade".
You get the picture.
When we say that and we have learned to balance our own recipes, we mean that we have full control over the ingredients and how to use them. This starts with sourcing the ingredients, singly, directly and consciously. We understand the science behind ice cream: what makes the product too hard, or too soft, the different sugars one can use, what ratio of sugar and fat is needed for it to freeze properly, etc. This allows us to develop and amend our own recipes. We are not dependent on industrial ice cream mix manufacturers and we do not need to follow the instructions on a package of powdered ice cream mix!
an art formFEW This is actually ice cream makers actually master. which very Making ice cream the way we do simply cannot be learned overnight. Just as artisan bread, cheese or beer making is a craft, so is ice cream! It requires a lot of trial and error, and continuous learning.
Our relationship to food runs deep. We do not just see it as something we need to consume, but something which fulfills both the mind, body and soul. For us, food is an experience linked to culture and tradition and it is nourishment as much as it is fulfillment.
We believe that food and cooking needs to be approached with respect.
Where we source our ingredients impacts the environment and humanity as well. This is why we source our ingredients ourselves, and with great care.
The downside to being labelled artisan? In recent months, there has been a boom by large corporate companies to produce “artisan” versions of everything from bread to ice cream to pizza. The irony here is that big industrial food companies are anything but “artisan” (in the traditional sense of the word). Much like the word “foodie” we believe that the word “artisan” is being over-used!
While we are indeed artisan ice cream makers, we hesitate to label ourselves as such, in an effort to separate ourselves from the current “trend”.
So while we are artisan ice cream makers, we try to avoid categorizing ourselves as such, as we believe that "artisan" is slowly starting to loose meaning.
We take great pride in sourcing our ingredient ourselves. Our supply chain is an integral part of our business model. When it comes to animal products, we believe that buying organic, and grass-fed is critical.
For this reason, our milk and cream is – and always will be – bio, or organic. When we first opened our business, we were sourcing this organic milk and cream from South Tyrol! the quality was great but we were hoping to find a more local product. We searched for 2 years! While the area around Munich is teeming with dairy farms, some of which are organic, very few if at all were grass fed. The cows are in a barn 365 days of the year: never seeing sun, roaming freely or eating fresh grass! So we kept searching and finally found "the one". Local, grass-fed, organic, happy shiny healthy cows!
And no, we do not use any eggs! (so that takes care of that)
Unfortunately however, we notice that “bio” and “quality” don’t always meet half way.
Take vanilla for example. We have scoured the earth for organic vanilla beans and were not happy with the quality of the beans we found. They were mostly small, and dry and void of natural oils. We ended up finding bourbon vanilla beans from Madagascar which are happened to be very high quality but were not labelled organic.
And here’s the catch: Bio is after all just a label. The theory behind having a bio product is a good one. When we can offer bio, we will and we do. However for us the quality of an ingredient is more important than its certification.
While many organic products happen to have a much better natural taste, this is not always the case!
In recent months, we have come to find out that many things labelled as bio, are not even bio!
So are we bio? Actually, most of our ingredients are bio. The vast majority of our ingredients are organic. There are only very few ingredients which we decided to source as non-bio items because we found that the non-bio version was of better quality – like our Madagascan Vanilla Beans for example. Sugar is another main ingredient which we do not purchase as organic.
Why are we “Handmade” Ice Cream?
We are not against using machinery, because we strive to have a high quality product and we happened to invest in some of the best machinery the industry has to offer (made in Germany!)
But this machinery, together with our trained hands, combine to create a unique hand crafted small batch ice cream. The tools have evolved but the hands that transfer the knowledge and skill on how to use the tools still remains the distinctive feature about our product. And our most important ingredient? PASSION. As corny as it might sound, it's not a given!
Take our hazelnut or pistachio ice cream as examples: we are one of the very few who buy the nuts whole. We then roast them in our oven, and make them into a paste freshly before churning it into ice cream. THIS is "handmade". We do not purchase pre-made nut pastes, even though there are a select few good ones on the market.
Our fruit sorbets? the seasonal flavors are all made with fresh local fruit such as apples or peaches which we wash, peel, pit and core before using fresh. This, we believe is "handmade" as sadly it's not the norm!
Handmade products remind us of artisan products, without the mainstream popular buzzword appeal. We believe that being "artisan" should be a lifestyle and not a label.
Food for Thought / Links :
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