South End Entrepreneurs Apply Slow-Food Sensibilities to Ice Cream
Ingredients are bought locally too.
Rutland Square residents Susie Parish and Veronica Janssens are dedicated to producing ice cream from scratch using local ingredients or, barring that, fair trade and organic ones.
Their passion for local foods is four-fold, according to Parish. Local food “tastes better,” is “healthier” for you, is “eco-friendly,” and it “supports local farms.” That’s right: the epicurean, the health-nut, the environmentalist, and the patriot can all sit down to the same amazing treat.
Batch, the pair's ice cream company, is a small-scale operation. Parish and Janssens, who have known one another for 14 years, prepare their ice cream completely from scratch at the CropCircle Kitchen in Jamaica Plain, a communal kitchen where 30 separate member-businesses share space and supplies. The arrangement frees up energy and time for preparing the product itself (in this case, ice cream) and marketing it, as opposed to dealing with the stress and strain of investing in an exclusive space.
The two eschew emulsifying agents like polysorbate 80 or guar gum, using egg yolks instead to stabilize their product’s consistency. The Boston area is renowned for its ice cream and much of it is produced by comparably small-scale or specialty companies. It is this absence of stabilizers in their product that sets Batch apart, Parish said.
Batch also uses "very different methods" in producing its products, Parish said. The duo's popular Cinnamon and Chocolate Bits flavor, for instance, is created by infusing milk with roasted whole cinnamon sticks - whereas conventional ice cream manufacturers use cinnamon powder. Batch’s method allows the product to retain its natural, highly desirable creamy texture, Parish said.
To achieve Batch’s incredibly personal touch, its owners oversee every stage of the process. They purchase cream from local (and ecologically conscious) dairy producers, buy salt from Maine and ginger from a local grower, the Old Friends Farm. When they must import ingredients, such as coffee beans or chocolate, Batch insists upon fair trade and organic options.
In the kitchen, Parish and Janssens make their own caramel from organic ingredients and use original (and secret) methods to make their own chocolate chips (finding fair trade chocolate chips is “impossible,” according to their website.)
There is a purposed simplicity in Batch’s various flavors. The company sells 7 flavors, with Ginger the most exotic.
“We’ll never be a Baskin Robbins,” Parish acknowledges, adding that, though Batch has increased production capabilities dramatically since its inception, it “can only do so much in a shared space.”
While their penchant for local ingredients would seem to lend itself to seasonal varieties, Batch is cautious about introducing them; their focus at present is “keeping up with demand” – that is, coping with the extraordinary popularity of their ice cream – and focusing on what Parish calls “pure flavors.”
Organic Renaissance, the company responsible for getting their ice cream to the shelves, is also relatively new and small-scale. It delivers only local foods and products made from local ingredients.
“We have to be careful with our expansion,” Parish said. They still apply all the labels by hand.
The delicious results of their efforts can be found at a number of higher-end and specialty food shops across Boston, including City Feed and Supply (at both Jamaica Plain Locations), Foodies Urban Market, South End Formaggio, and Marshall’s Fenway Farmstand.