Each scoop of Jeni's ice cream is a masterpiece, a small-scale work of art dreamed up by Jeni Britton Bauer and brought to life with lots of help from lots of people. This year, we followed the process of a pint of Jeni's Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries -- a flavor that just screams Ohio, right? -- from a cow in Athens to a scoop shop in Clintonville. Here's a look at how the magic happens.
All of Jeni's flavors start with grass-fed sweet cream from Snowville Creamery, but it wasn't always that way. When Britton Bauer first started making ice cream, she assumed it'd be easy to find dairy -- she was in an agricultural state like Ohio, after all, where black-and-white Holsteins roam the hillsides right off major highways. Not so.
"Dairy was the biggest challenge in the beginning," Britton Bauer said. "You can't just go buy milk and cream from one farm."
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams worked with various small Ohio dairies -- intermittently buying regular old milk when they couldn't find grass-pastured organic stuff -- with the eventual goal of buying their own dairy. And then they found Snowville.In Athens, Snowville's Warren Taylor is a self-described dairy revolutionary. He gets milk directly from nearby dairy farms, where Jersey and Guernsey cows graze freely in pastures and are fed grass.
And he processes it differently than other places, starting with raw milk and pasteurizing it very slowly to avoid overheating. "Once you overheat the milk," Britton Bauer said, "you ruin the proteins." And those milk proteins are what give Jeni's ice cream the amazing texture getting rave reviews across the nation.
"Jeni and I have common values. And that extends to dozens of other producers that she uses in her ice cream," Taylor said. "Both of us feel like we're public faces and figures of ideas that are way larger than ourselves. It's important to us that we support other businesses that are likeminded."
What Snowville makes for Jeni's is basically a concentrated sweet cream that's a 50-50 mixture of whipping cream and concentrated milk Taylor makes specially using a one-of-a-kind high-tech filtration system. That concentrated milk replaces the dry milk powder most ice cream companies use, and makes for a much fresher-tasting product.
Today, Jeni's makes up one-third of Snowville's business. "We've grown together, and we have every intention of continuing to grow to meet her demand," Taylor said.
Photos by Jodi Miller
32623 St. Rte. 143