The farm is a unique place. I mean, I don't know many places that combine a pumpkin patch and corn maze, weddings and events, donut fundraising, giant pumpkin growing, and berry patches all in one business.
And now we're adding one more thing.
For years, Kyle has had an idea of a food goods line in the back of his mind. For awhile, it was a jams and jellies, a common food product produced by places like ours. Then it was wine and craft beers. Then he entertained the idea of pies. Then cookies and cakes and the list goes on and on. But then one conversation changed his whole trajectory.
During a random chat one night, Kyle's neighbor and friend told him that he should think about a line of ice cream products. The more Kyle thought about it, the more he liked it. It seemed to fit. It was different. It sounded like a fun challenge.
But he wasn't sure where to start, so the same friend, who stays in close contact with the UW-Madison dairy science program, suggested Kyle look into Ice Cream School, and exclusive course taught once a year there.
What happened after that, well, was a lot of waiting. I mean, waiting, yes, but also a lot of work. We got distracted. Kyle finished building the barn, we grew a weddings and events business, and we started our fall season in the new space. We got busy, and so the food good lines took a backseat. Also, Kyle could not get into this class!
He tried to sign up once, it was full. And so the next time the course opened, he signed up immediately. But he still had to wait for another 8 months before the class began in January 2019. And it was when he walked in that he realized how exclusive and important this class was. He was one of 12 people in a 3-day course that ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And even though Kyle drove 90 minutes to attend, he was in the minority because people had come from all over the country to attend: the Twin Cities; Virginia; Washington state; Manitoba, Canada; and Kentucky. To put it simply: this class is a really big deal.
The class, which is taught by UW professors but also by ice cream shop owners and industry manufacturers and experts, gave Kyle the opportunity to get the scoop on the ice cream that he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. He learned things at the class that he would have taken a long time to learn otherwise.
On the first day, Kyle and the gang had a crash course in the basics of ice cream and in ice cream food science. They learned then learned about the different machines and proper sanitation and cleanliness. That afternoon, they spent the entire time talking about vanilla and chocolate.
It was here that Kyle learned about all the different types of vanillas - they are made in all different parts of the world, such as Tahiti and Madagascar. They got to try them out, learned how the varieties make subtle differences in taste and texture, and experiment with these vanilla flavors. Not only did Kyle realize just how complex the seemingly simple vanilla flavor can be, but "imitation vanilla is forever ruined for me," he says.
The next two days were focused on using fruits and adding other ingredients to ice cream. They were asked a lot of questions that Kyle had never thought about. Like: What is the correct amount of ripple for an ice cream (the correct amount of butterscotch or chocolate sauce)? What is an inclusion (a horrible word for brownie bits and chocolate chips)? How does adding these things change flavor and texture?
Kyle left the class with a good sense of how he wanted to start his own ice cream business, and he was super excited to begin. Unfortunately, after the class, there was a whole other bout of waiting that needed to take place, which we'll cover in our next blog. We can't wait to share how we chose our ingredients, let you in on our experimentation and development (believe me, as a seven-month pregnant woman, I have had A LOT of fun with our experimentation process), and give you the details on our flavors and where you can find us during the month of June.
We hope you have as much fun as we are having with our new addition to our crazy world: small-batch, super premium ice cream!
Fun on the farm...in blog form!