Salty Caramel returns to Jeni's stores Friday

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

It's been a rollercoaster year for our city's ice cream queen. In late April, listeria found in a pint of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Nebraska forced a nationwide recall and closure of all Jeni's scoop shops. Jeni's reopened a month later, only to temporarily shutter again-this time for a week-in mid-June when listeria was discovered during routine testing.

All summer, scoop shops have been serving a limited lineup with production help from Smith's Dairy in Orrville. On Friday, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams will get one flavor closer normal as Salty Caramel returns to scoop shops. (No word yet on when pints might return to shelves.)

Jeni Britton Bauer is touting this latest version of her signature ice cream flavor as her best batch yet. This week, she told her staff that the caramel has all the elements it needs: nutty, buttery, with notes of molasses, coffee and butterscotch.

"I always say that our salty caramel is like seeing a live show-each batch is slightly unique," Britton Bauer writes in a Jeni's blog slated to go up later this week. "It's a little more salty than American caramel, which is always salted a little bit, and even more than traditional French Salted Caramel-in the direction of Scandinavian licorice. You can't synthesize this flavor in a lab (synthetic caramel flavoring tastes like a gas station latte), the only way to do it right is to do it the hard way. And it's worth it, the flavor is one of a kind chemical change that happens when sugar hits heat, and when done correctly, is one of the finest flavor experiences in the world."

While you're waiting for salty caramel to return, here's a quick look at the flavor by the numbers:

-Jeni's makes 44,748 gallons of salty caramel annually.

-8,100 gallons will be made for the comeback this weekend.

-To make that initial run, Jeni's needs a day's worth of milk and cream from 5,564 cows (cows can produce 70 pounds of milk a day.)

- 350 pounds of Jacobsen salt was used for the initial run.

-1996: the year Britton Bauer first served the flavor at her North Market shop, Scream Ice Cream.