145. Organic Certification | Organic Hand Churned Ice Cream | Em’s Ice Cream | Andrew Silverman | Denver, CO


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Em'sIceCreamLogo

When I went to Paris, I sat next to this guy on the plane who had a food tuck in Denver and when I was looking him up I found Em’s Ice Cream Organic Ice Cream Company in Denver Colorado and here to talk to us today is Andrew Silverman!

Hi! Hello!

I think we are all interested in anything that has to do with healthy living and any kind of green jobs that help take care of our planet and we alike to eat healthy food and see the connection between the food that we eat and how it is grown. And So I am excited to read: 

Em’s Ice Cream is a certified organic ice cream company and we’re based right in Denver. We make everything from scratch right down to the chocolate chips in our Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. We try to work with local vendors and farmers whenever possible, and 1% of our profits go to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

Em’s Ice Cream is made using premium organic milk, organic cream, organic eggs, and organic cane sugar. We do not use any stabilizers, GMO’s, or food coloring. Our ice cream is gluten free and batch churned to ensure consistent and superior quality.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from Maine! I grew up in a relatively small town in Maine where ag was still an important component of the local economy. That’s where my love for ice cream came from! I grew up down the road from a dairy farm. They didn’t make a ton of flavors but what they did make they made fresh almost every day. They used their own milk and cream! The eggs came from their chickens. It was just phenomenal! That was what I had for ice cream as a kid, and that’s what I judge all ice cream by ever since! 

So how long have you been in Denver?

I’ve been in Denver for just about 2 1/2 years. I was in Salt Lake for a few years in the wintertime and fishing in Alaska in the Summertime.

Em’s ice cream… So your wife is Emily!

So, I was fishing, working on a commercial fishing salmon boat for a few summers.

That’s some dangerous work. 

It’s not very conducive to being married cause your out on a boat for years, most boats are named after wives or daughter’s. So I said if I can’t pursue this I’ll start an ice cream business named after you. So if I can’t get my boat, I’ll name my truck after you and then I’ll at least have a truck! So it’s named after my wife Emily!

My wife and I when we want to treat ourselves in the evening, our go to has been let’s go out and get some ice cream. There’s a couple of good places in Salt Lake City. There’s actually one place that is called Hatch Family Chocolates SLC

Hatch’s that has this delicious frozen hot chocolate!

We used to do that. When we got to Denver people said, there’s tons of great ice cream here. It was ok, but as I said before, I had a really high bar that was set when I was a kid in Maine. So that’s what everything was judged against and I was always disappointed. Nobody’s seemed to match that quality. The other thing, I kind of discovered most of the ice cream in the west using an American ice cream recipe which is:

  • milk
  • sugar some kind of sweetener 
  • binder like guar gum, locust gum…

It has a more icy grainy consistency, doesn’t have the same fat content, I don’t think it holds a flavor as well.

What I grew up with is a French creme anglaise basemore of a custard style

  • milk
  • cream
  • egg yolks 
  • sugar

has a higher fat content, it has a more creamy velvety mouth feel

that’s the style ice cream we produce, which sort of sets us aside from all the other ice cream in the Denver area at the very least but broader then that. 

Nice,  Are you gonna package it then 

Probably not, wholesale is really tough, the volume you need.

the cloves to make make $ and be competitive

more fo an undertaking then we’re willing to do… I also feel like out of necessity your size, just because you are producing

we produce small batch

about 20 gallons at a time

time and effort and we can be very detailed oriented with everything that we’re doing and if we were producing 2000 gallons it would be impossible to meet that same level of quality.

They just opened a hand churned ice cream place in winter. 

Ice creams a tough sell in the winter. We’re mobile exclusively so wehen people say we eat outside, we 

We run April -Through October

Right now we have 22 flavors

not all of them are always available. Our trucks and carts hold between 7-12 flavors all the time…

Em's Ice Cream Flavors

Staple Flavors:

  • Salty carmel 
  • burnt brown sugar
  • high molasses
  • chocolate
  • strawberry
  • vanilla
  • cookies and cream
  • mint chocolate chip
  • pumpkin
  • western slope
  • peaches

 

Salty carmel – we make a salty carmel first

Burnt brown sugar, It’s my personal favorite…. we use a brown sugar with a  high molasses content , take it just past caramelization brings out all those bittersweet smokey notes… it tastes like  the top of cream brule, or a perfectly roasted marshmallow whatever your reference is. 

Chocolate, strawberry, and  vanilla we almost always have those. 

Cookies and cream, was one of my favorites,  I was always disappointed as a kid when there was too much ice cream and not enough cookie and we negate that problem

we make an organic cookie into a fine grain it turn it almost to dust and then we put big chunks of cookie on top of that… 

put that in the base first

Dagoba Mint Chocolate

Our mint chocolate chip – always a favorite. We do make our own chips, we use a Dagoba Chocolate

69% dark chocolate which melts down, add a bit of canola oil which changes the melting temp so they even when frozen helps them remain maleable so you don’t get that chalky sensation

Our mint chocolate chip is always  white not green some kids who havent been exposed to that so they give you the quizzical looks

That’s the best kind anyway.

It’s always funny when adults say, “Why isn’t it green?” 

“And we say why would it be green?” and they say

“Because fo the mint…”

And we explain that’s not how it works…. that green is a color it does not have a flavor.

Is that twelve?

Em’s Ice Cream Some Seasonal Flavors

  • Pumpkin
  • Western Slope Palisades Peach
  • Balsamic Fig Compote
  • Raw Ginger
  • Balsamic Strawberry

We do a pumpkin in the fall.

There’s a Western Slope Palisades Peaches. That’s a popular one. We only do that once a year, usually the second week in august

a new flavor ever year. 

balsamic fig compote that we swirled through sweet cream, that’s very good. some of the other flavors… We do a ginger which was my favorite

raw ginger

blanch it first, that takes out bitterness

sweet notes of ginger

We’ve done an earl gray in the past

strawberry balsamic on occasion.

I lose my recording here. I think I probably asked Andrew where does he get his flavors and ideas from?

A lot of it is kind of my experience with other ice creams in the past, some flavors are ideas that i had or someone did it better somewhere and I was like oh that’s fantastic!

something I will say, we don’t do crazy  like Sriracha  lime or anything like that

A novelty flavor is fun! It’s nothing that you go back for again and again, we’re trying to build a foundation right now so we focus on flavors that have universal appeal, or that have a classic base, or a modified more modern palate, try to cover all our bases.

I would begin by saying, if you’re familiar with the expression, a boat is a whole you throw money too, the same could be said about a truck!

Trucks are extremely expensive both to build and maintain

it’s not an easy business by any means. 

Em's Ice Cream Cart

We actually started with carts’, little ice cream carts, they were a lot les expensive to purchase so we could test out proof of concept first before we went out and invested a bunch!

Em's Ice Cream Truck

Food Trucks Basics

We are scooping ice cream, so the singular piece is a cold plate freezer

self contained

Amazing piece of technology, they have cold plates lined what heavy insulation, so you plug them in and they will hold 0º for 12 hours with a 90º ambient temperatures. So our trucks are extremely simple compared to someone doing a full food truck build out

  • heat cookers
  • grilling ovens
  • cooling racks etc

not the best example to judge how a food truck

Truck are a lot of work, but you have to keep them busy!

it doesn’t matter how good your food is, you HAVE TO KEEP THEM BUSY and be working them every day. Your trucks have to be busy!!!

So I probably said where do you go?

Farmer’s Markets turned out not to be  a big hit for us, pre breakfast is a hard sell!

we don’t drive around, those trucks sell a prepackaged product and we have a hard scooped dipped ice-cream, our set up is more involved, so we’d have to get out and go in back and get our cones etc out and try to hand dip things….

Em's Ice Cream Truck with Kids

Places to Find Em’s Ice Cream Food Truck

We go to a lot of

  • arts festivals
  • outdoor movie nights
  • outdoor theater events
  • school events
  • end of school graduations
  • spring events
  • back to school
  • fall things
  • family friendly community activities
  • Downtown Denver – Civic Center Eats

Civic Center Eats

that’s where we have done the best! So in Denver there are a couple of weekly food truck events, where between 10-20 local trucks

Downtown

Civic Center Eats at the Civic center park big draw for everyone that works downtown Denver and for tourists as well.

So where do you make your products?

So we actually used to make our own base in house, we just got to the point that we couldn’t do it, the economics weren’t working, so we found a dairy out of northern California, so they now make our recipe and they do the whole thing.

Em’s Ice Cream Recipe

  • milk
  • cream
  • egg yolks
  • sugar

It’s all produced by them now, so that’s a california product

4th generation farm, great business, so we’re really happy to help them.

Our strawberries come out of the western slope palisade, some of our other fruit.

Colorado Mountain JamWe do a blueberry  pumpkin some of those. Those are not coming out of Colorado but they are produced here, some of the furit flavors we use a jam from Colorado Mountain Jam. They’re a western slope, been around for a long time, they have much better relationships from farms and they would be able to have better product then we would and so for consistency’s sake we go with them. 

Western Slope of Colorado

I’m pretty sure I ask him here, what’s the western slope?

For the most part the Rocky Mountains divide the western half of the continent. So Denver is eastern slope and then you go up over the Rockies and you have western slope. Usually when people are talking about western slope it’s 

  • Grand Junction
  • Palisade

over by Utah.

The eastern slope

front range is 

  • Denver 
  • Boulder
  • Colorado Springs

The rocky mountains was the dividing line….

And now I’m back…

So you were talking about the Western and Eastern Slope. What else do you want to tell listeners about?

Support local business

I do think there’s a benefit not just to the business holder but also to yourself. If someone is from the community and they have a business that exists for the community I think they really put forth a high degree of effort. If they are creating a product or providing a service that not only benefits the community but they will be exceptional, because they know they will be judged upon that and therefore a lot of work and effort goes into it, but that may not be the case if they are a big chain brand that you are just one of many. 

So how many people? do you run your food trucks is it just you and your wife, or do you have helperes? How does that work?

My wife is actually a professor at the medical school here in Denver, she is the namesake but she is not involved in the business on a day to day basis. So I have 2 full time kitchen people that manage all of the production. I’m in the kitchen fairly regularly as well, doing quality control and doing …

We’re significantly more sizable hen wer we our first season!

wow That’a lot of people!

15 people

We have 2 trucks, 3 carts

So starting next week the first of June, everything’s running simultaneously! We run events 7 days a week, usually 2-3 events during the week, and 4-5 -6 events on the weekend so we kind of need a fairly significant staff to cover all that. 

  • carts = 2 employees
  • trucks = 3 employees

Usually the carts at big events well have 2 people, for the trucks we’ll have 3 people. At smaller things, one person’s able to manage.

OK, so how about, you started out with just a couple of carts. Then where were you making the ice cream, not in the truck so do you have a warehouse where you make it all?

A culinary space, actually its a shared kitchen space, they come in a variety of sizes and styles, we got one that’s really really nice, it’s  had just been built, it’s also somewhat unique because a lot of commissaries, is a big open communal kitchen… the commissary we work out of it’s private kitchen spaces, so you are booked in allotted times in certain kitchens, and so it’s exclusively your area when you are there, so it’s not shared when you are there. That’s nice especially because we are certified organic, it would be hard to overlap with other business especially if they were using meat or something not organic, that would not be an ideal paring, so we hav ea really good set up where we are now.

So wait, I’m confused… so it’s a shared space, but it’s not shared the day your there, like the day your there, the hours you’re assigned….?

the hours

they work in 8 hour increments

so during our 8 hour shift it’s all us.

So do you have a shelf where you store your food or a pantry, you don’t have to bring your food every-time do you?

So this place is equipped with massive refrigerator and freezer capacity. so we are able to store all of our product there. and then as soon as it is made we move it off site to a cold storage facility. Because we facility  a lot of ice cream and they don’t have the capacity to hold it all.

Ok, so the people who work with you, meet up at the cold storage facility and load up your trucks or how does that work?

A typical Em’s Ice Cream Workday

We try to prep the day before because a lot of our events happen early morning. So we’ll meet early friday morning

stack up all the carts and trucks to make sure we have all our flavors

enough product to potentially meet the demand of the event. Then we hopefully will have good weather and good turnout and we’ll have a good day!

How do you transport a cart? 

Carts live on the back of a truck on a trailer! I did not have a lot of trailer experience prior to starting this business, that was a pretty steep learning curve learning how to back up a tiny closed trailer. I’m getting some pretty impressive trailer skills out of necessity. 

What else might listeners be interested in? Do you have any kind of testing process do you survey your customers? How do you know what’s a good flavor? You probably go by sales for that? 

In the beginning I put together a list of 70 different flavors just by name alone, ultimately sampling people are only gonna sample flavors that there interested in.

put together a list of 70 flavors, sent out a big survey

So we produced 12 and the other 8 were flavors I wanted to produce

‘going forward we do get some feedback, we’ve been asked to produce a 

butter pecan hoping to get that later in the summer

some new nut flavor requests

  • butter pecan
  • pistachio
  • roasted almond chocolate

we encounter

people with severe cases  nut allergies

if there is any sort of

even if it’s used in a production run there can be adverse effects so for that reason we’ve stayed away from any nut flavored ice cream for inclusions sake. Just to make it safe for everybody.

What about, I know your selling ice cream, is there any health benefits or calorie things > maybe different hen ice cream you get anymore? 

Yeah, like ice milk. I mean, our ice cream is amazing and delicious it is not a low calorie food by any means

we’ve done some sort of carnival type of events and its like funnel cakes and fried turkey legs etc and I joke with people that we probably have thee healthiest food option here!

milk creams, eggs yolks, and sugar if consumed in moderation

no one of these things are

simple clean

wife ran devision one track in college, her coach id say ice cream is a fantastic recovery food.

what about the cones?

in a perfect world we would produce our own cones

limited space

we use joy cones

used the same recipe for 60 years

we have kid cones and sugar

Green Queen Ice Cream

The Green Queen might scream if she sees you get a bowl and not a cone!

We are

in

our spoons and sampling spoons, are both made out of wood, 100% compostable

napkins

recyclable material and compostable

new cups, we’ve had a hard time sourcing a good cup that was biodegradable and compostable that was the right size, but we just found one so we will start soon using that so we will have a light footprint.

Would you have an Interest in the certification process?

YES!!!

Organic Certification California CCOF

Organic Certification Process

So our organic certifier is CCOF, out of Santa Cruz, California

good experience

 working with them, Positive Experience working with them, going tiny this

didn’t know anything with USDA Organic Certification Process

providing me with the documentation and guidance needed

thoughtful kind folks over there, it is an extensive process it takes quite a bit of time, very detailed oriented, you learn a lot about 

you also develop an appreciation for what that logo carries… it’s pretty ubiquitous these days, know that once you’ve completed the process and you see it, you realize this actually means someting. 

Give us the basics. Like what’s the first step.

Organic Certification Step 1

The first step is to determine if you can even make an organic product

there were some flavors

Mexican vanilla

that we couldn’t get organically, that was a surprise to me, there wasn’t an organic equivalent, sometimes there are compromises there are foods if there isn’t an organic substitute, but with the vanilla, there are some really organic, the initial vanilla we wanted to use was not on the list.

we had initially created a flavor list

we had to go and look at the ingredients and find out coule we 

  1. quality in an organic format
  2. substitute it with something satisfying.

So were there cost and were people willing to pay more?

YES, it costs significantly more, if we were to use conventional milk, or even a conventional ice cream base it would cost 1/2 of what we pay, so that’s significant! 

We have to stay competitive in our market but we can’t charge too much more. We are slightly more , it usually isn’t an issue

we have a giant USDA logo on the front of the truck. We promote the fact that we’re organic

share that we are organic and everything’s made from scratch, and most often that negates any sort of price issue.

So anything else you want to talk about the organic process. That’s step one. Do they inspect you. 

They

the way the inspection works, they look at your facility

They pull a product off your shelf and say prove this organic. 

There is an extensive amount of documentarians.

So every product is

  • labeled with production date
  • batch number
  • flavor

that’s all tracked back to the ingredients that is used in that particular bucket. You do need to be quite detailed oriented to save the organic cert standard. 

So do you have to pay them to come certify you?

there’s an

  • initial application fee
  • inspection fee

after the first

  • renewal re-inspection fee

through the fed govt, there’s an organic reimbursement, I think they will reimburse you up to 75% on first 1000 dollars for being organic food producer.

So in Montana, they came up with a new cottage food bill and regulations for being a food truck.

So in Colorado, Denver County, although it is seat of the state capital does not recognize the states regulations and vice versa, so we do have redundant licensing so we are licensed for  the city of Denver, allows to sell throughout and operate trucks and also through Jefferson county that allows us to be registered then through the rest of the state…

Alright have I missed anything?

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Because we are a food based business, I will speak specifically to that. I think that we need to be conscious in maintaining a food system that is sustainable. Obviously without that we are up a creek. I would like to see more time and effort to make sure that our food systems are done in a fair, sustainable and equitable manner. 

EM's Ice Cream Cart

How do we connect with you?

So our website is emsicecream.com Our fixed locations are on

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3.  Instagram

Do you want to tell listeners about what red rocks is in case they don’t know? I never got to go to a show there but I’ve heard it’s amazing!

RedRocks

So I believe Red Rocks was first used as a performance space in the 1920’s. It’s  a natural amphitheater made out of sandstone NW of Denver. 

its a beautiful space, outdoors open under the sky, draws really good music a wide variety of musical types

  • everything
  • flaming lips
  • with the colorado symphony
  • def metal band
  • electronic group
  • they also have movies there called Film on the Rocks

amazing performance space

red rocks is owned by the city of Denver, it  is a park as well, during the day you are more then welcome to go up there, you can go explore the area

a lot of people use if for an exercise space

Do people just sit on the rocks? Are there seats?

There are seats now, obviously

To be honest, I have never got to go to a show. 

there bench seats

Just got the contract to go up there and vend during the shows.

been out there quite a few times, right in the park….

If you want to hear my postchat with Andrew just keep listening….

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How do we connect with you?

Em'sIceCreamLogo

So our website is emsicecream.com Our fixed locations are on

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3.  Instagram

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