You scream, I scream, we all scream for… plant-based ice cream?
Look, we know the phrase “plant-based ice cream” seems odd, but if Impossible Foods is able to create plant-based burgers that can “bleed,” the idea of ice cream that uses a dairy replacement made primarily of plants should sound pretty normal by comparison.
Eclipse Foods, a startup founded Thomas Bowman and Aylon Steinhart, aims to develop a more sustainable, responsible, and humane food system.
They’ve created a product which is meant to replace dairy, and they’ve partnered with New York-based OddFellows Ice Cream Co. and San Francisco-based Humphry Slocombe to offer its version of dairy-free ice cream in stores.
That product, the founders tell CNN, is made from a mix of ancient corn, potato, cassava, oats, canola oil, cane sugar and water.
“We start with a blend of very common plants and then we process them through the same machines that run dairy,” Bowman said. “We put them in vat pasteurizers, through homogenizers, heat exchangers and chilled holding tanks. Essentially, we’re basically making our plant-based dairy from the things that cows eat instead of from the cows themselves.”
At OddFellows, you can try classic flavors such as miso cherry and olive oil plum, but made with Eclipse Foods’ non-dairy replacement. Those are the only two flavors at launch that will be available in the collaboration, but the list could be expanded in the future.
CNN did a blind taste test of both the dairy and non-dairy versions of the miso cherry and we were unable to tell right off the bat which was which by taste alone.
The Eclipse Foods version looked, tasted, and melted just like ice cream would, and it was just as flavorful as the version that uses dairy.
What surprised us most about the plant version was just how similar it tasted to the dairy version.
Several of our colleagues tried the plant-based versions too, and all believed that there was no discernible difference between those and regular ice cream.
While vegan ice cream is commonly found at a lot of ice cream stores, including at OddFellows, it is typically made with dairy alternatives such as almond milk or soy milk. Anyone that has had vegan ice cream knows that these dairy alternatives can change the flavor profile.
Eclipse Foods’ non-dairy version doesn’t impart any of the distinct flavors that a soy milk ice cream may have – it keeps the flavor intact while seemingly bringing out the savory aspects of the ice cream.
“What is really unique about ours is that you know almond milk tastes like almond milk, cashew milk tastes like cashew milk, and coconut milk tastes like coconut milk,” Bowman said. “There’s more linear feed of dairy alternatives in a lot of grocery stores than there are actual dairy. Not a single one of those actually tastes or functions like actual animal dairy. So, that’s kind of where we are differentiators.”
The founders say that they’re not done yet, as they plan to continue tinkering with the formula with the hope of improving it.
“Something that we’re really proud of with our formula is that the product is free from all common allergens,” said Steinhart. “So, no nuts, no seeds, no soy, no wheat, no gluten, no coconut. And it also has no gums, gels or stabilizers. So, it’s really, really green. We want to give consumers a product that they feel really good about eating and that they love the taste.”