Maggie Beer

More about Burnt Fig, Honeycomb & Caramel Ice Cream

I’ve talked a lot about maximising every bit of produce to hand and that’s exactly how I started to make ice cream. We were milling about 90 tonnes a year at the time of quinces, from our farms and our farmers who grow for us under contract. I had a lightbulb moment about ten years ago that as a waste product from this milling there were all the cores and skins that were sieved out of the quince that in the processing was asceptically packed so it could stay in drums over the year until we needed to make our  paste. I organised to be at the milling to take away buckets and buckets of these cores etc. to try to make a syrup out of them. My thinking was, if I can make a syrup what should I do with it! And that thought process led me to my first ice cream. Not that the syrup was such a success, but it started the journey.          

It’s quite an easy thing to make beautiful ice creams if you use great produce in your own home or restaurant kitchen, which is what we started with, however much more difficult and requiring very specialised equipment and knowledge to take that to the marketplace. I had the help of a great patissier retired from teaching, Ingo Schwartz, and together we came up with our very first ideas for ice creams. Then it was a case of trying to find a company that could make them for us, as whilst we were able to make the syrups for our Quince and Bitter Almond Ice Cream; our Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream and others since then, in those beginning days it was trying to find a company that was already making an ice cream that was a standout. We knew there was no possibility going to a super large company for our premium ice creams, so we set about trying ice creams on the market to find a possible partner.     

Interestingly at the time we found one in country NSW;  a stand out at the time that was able to take my ideas and scale up to a commercial level. Once again, I did all the co-developing up in their laboratory first, then in their factory at Lismore, and each time we produced our first two ice creams which were for Qantas, one of my team would be in situ, as that was the only way we could be sure of the detail. They were very good to us but economics won out and they had to tell us we were too small for them to be economic. This led us back to South Australia and a short period with a regional ice cream maker. We really hoped this would be  the solution but once again, our ice creams were never easy to make and at the time they were investing in large volume good quality ice cream, but super premium was out of their reach. We parted amicably and five years down the track finally found the company we deal with now in Victoria. A company of a similar size and ethos to ourselves and once again everything we do is first developed in the Farm Shop kitchen and then scaled up to commercial trials with our team in situ; it’s a journey we’re on together.        

One of the most difficult things in food production is the huge cost of specialised facilities, which is why we haven’t built one alongside our kitchens in Tanunda – it’s just not economically possible. Whilst the first quince ice cream didn’t attain the market presence I thought it deserved;  watch this space as there is a new quince ice cream coming soon.

Whilst my ice cream ideas have gone way beyond the original ones we developed there is no way that my ‘burnt fig, caramel and honeycomb’ will ever be allowed off the shelves, and as such, at certain times of the year, our team at the kitchens in Tanunda are making the burnt fig syrup over 24 hour shifts to ship to Melbourne for the ice cream to be made for us.

Everything comes back to my Barossa tradition, everything begins at the Farm Shop, so even when there are some products we just can’t make successfully here, either in the Barossa or even in South Australia, I love to see my ideas come to fruition  and  have more ideas for products that fit my ‘basket of goodies’  always with a point of difference; always driven by flavour, so I search within Australia to find that right partner to make that happen.

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  • 500ml RRP $9.99

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