32– Cow to Cone, how Aggie Ice-cream is made, with Dave Irish

August 27, 2020 Utah State University Office of Research Episode 32
32– Cow to Cone, how Aggie Ice-cream is made, with Dave Irish
32– Cow to Cone, how Aggie Ice-cream is made, with Dave Irish
Aug 27, 2020 Episode 32
Utah State University Office of Research

Find out what makes Aggie Ice cream so special and how the Aggie creamery has been supporting agriculture in Utah since the 1890s.

Show Notes Transcript

Find out what makes Aggie Ice cream so special and how the Aggie creamery has been supporting agriculture in Utah since the 1890s.


[00:00:00] Wyatt: Hello, and welcome to the instead podcast where I get USU researchers to tell me what's happening out in the wilderness, beneath the Wasatch fault, or between groups of people. My name is Wyatt Triber, and right now you could be over-watering some succulents, but you are listening to this instead.

[00:00:27] To get this episode started. I'm going to call my sister.

[00:00:33] You're recording. 

[00:00:35] Shannon: It's recording for sure. Um, 

[00:00:37] Wyatt: Shannon, do you remember the first time you heard the sound?

[00:00:46] We didn't have to ask a mom for money. She just handed it to us as we booked it out the door of my cousin's home near Boise. Sure we wanted ice cream, but what we were excited about was the ice cream truck. I [00:01:00] dunno, it almost 

[00:01:00] Shannon: just seemed like an ice cream truck coming down. The road was like a fictitious thing.

[00:01:06] Wyatt: Our tiny hometown wasn't big enough for an ice cream truck. So up until this point, we'd only ever seen them in movies. 

[00:01:11] Shannon: I just remember kind of stopping and like looking around like, Oh, this is real. This is like a real thing. We can run out and meet this bus thing and get some ice. 

[00:01:20] Wyatt: If you're imagining the kind of ice cream truck you would see in a movie you're being generous. But we were still excited. Imagine a five-year-old meeting Mickey mouse at Disneyland. That's how excited we were, but Shannon was 16 and I was 13. And instead of Mickey mouse, it was a rusty old van with a deep freezer inside and a Casio keyboard hanging out the back. But it didn't matter because. Ice cream in this episode of, instead I talked to Dave Irish, he's the food scientist currently behind Aggie ice cream.

[00:01:51] You're going to learn about emulsions in cow care, how altitude affects ice cream. You'll also hear how they make Aggie ice cream from [00:02:00] cow to cone. And you're also going to learn the history of the Aggie Creamery if you like to New Zealand, because they gave us Lord of the rings. You're going to love New Zealand after you listened to this episode of instead, here's my conversation with Dave Irish.

[00:02:14] Dave Irish:   USU at university started as the Utah agricultural college in 1888 in the early days where everybody had a cow, everybody got milk and cheese and butter and everything from a local environment and not from large scale production. Then that knowledge of agriculture was important basically since 1890.

[00:02:33] When the Creamery started in the basement of old name, we've been focused on helping people in agriculture. 

[00:02:40] Wyatt: If you want to see what the Aggie Creamery looks like when it was in the basement of old main checkout at instead podcast on Instagram. Now, what did lessons in small scale dairy operations look like a hundred years ago.

[00:02:53] Dave Irish: They would bring people in from industry and they would put their wagons or old cars or different [00:03:00] things around the quad. And they would actually have a hands-on learning, teaching people, animal husbandry, quality control, best practices, so that people could understand what they could do at home to make the best product that they could.

[00:03:15] With that small-scale production. Yeah. 

[00:03:17] Wyatt: Yeah. Um, was ice cream, a part of the creamery's mission back then? I mean, I don't know the complete history of refrigeration, but I don't know how to make ice cream in the 1890s 

[00:03:29] Dave Irish: ice cream has been around for centuries and people say, wait, what? In the old days you would take ice, probably primarily snow, make some cream and some fruit and sugar together and mix it up.

[00:03:40] And that was ice cream. Even in the 18 hundreds, there was a lot of ice cream being made. One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said we possess not the wit to entertain brands in our homes. Therefore we buy ice cream and it kind of gives that idea that if you have ice cream, everybody's happy [00:04:00] you 

[00:04:00] Wyatt: guys, the history of keeping things cold is fascinating.

[00:04:03] Here's the best 20 seconds I can give you. Before modern refrigeration technology, people relied on ice harvested from frozen rivers and lakes that was kept from melting in insulated ice houses. During the civil war, the South was cut off from new England's ice industry. New Orleans was home to some of the first mechanical ice houses.

[00:04:20] After the war ended, these facilities weren't able to compete manufactured ice didn't replace harvested ice until about 1910. So when did the Aggie Creamery start making ice cream? So 

[00:04:31] Dave Irish: ice cream was made at Utah state, but not in an industrial type setting until 1921. When Gustaf Wilster came here from New Zealand and was a professor in that and brought some technology and really started the idea that we're going to make ice cream.

[00:04:51] So we're coming up on a a hundred year anniversary. Uh, Utah state university making industrial ice cream production. Why 

[00:04:57] Wyatt: did you get interested in [00:05:00] food science? Well, 

[00:05:01] Dave Irish: I didn't know what I was going to do when I went to college, so I just started taking classes. I thought maybe I was going to be a physical therapist.

[00:05:10] I did that for awhile. And then I took a nutrition class and I was incredibly astounded by how the body processes food. The Krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, like Carla says those metabolic systems are absolutely fascinating to think that really our body isn't it isn't taking food in. We basically have a whole from our mouth to our exit and we put things in there and it gets absorbed into our body.

[00:05:42] And that's a remarkable. Remarkable system. That's what got me interested in 

[00:05:47] Wyatt: . So you mentioned that USU used to teach people as practices of taking the milk from their cows, making their own food. When did it transition into having a more industrial operation? 

[00:05:59] Dave Irish: It started in [00:06:00] the basement of all main and then 19 in the early 19 hundreds, they used to take the cans of milk from the farm and drop them down through the windows, into the basement of old main to produce the, the cheese.

[00:06:11] And the butter and the other things that they've made the expertise in producing dairy products has been here really from gear one, what's expanded is our ability to manufacture different things. And we've had a focus on cheese for probably the last 40 years. We've had a focus on yogurt quite a long time.

[00:06:31] In the early days of yogurt, you know, in the sixties and seventies, we've had a more recent focus of artisan cheese. And we teach short courses to teach people how to make cheese. The people who make ice cream in the state of Utah learned how from Utah state, whether that will grow, whether that's bars, whether that's to say the bad word BYU is, you know, it doesn't matter who it is.

[00:06:57] They learn from you testing. Cause we 

[00:06:59] Wyatt: were the first firm. [00:07:00] Wow. Walk me through making ice cream and tell me what things that you've kept that Aggie ice cream has kept that might've disappeared from other, um, production processes. 

[00:07:12] Dave Irish: The making of ice cream from County cone starts off with high quality milk.

[00:07:18] If you have low quality milk, you're going to have low quality ice cream in teaching some of the classes here at the university. Some of the professors of common said, you know, we're trying to show the students a bad milk, but you guys don't have any bad mills. Where can I go to get that milk? It doesn't come from the George became dairy.

[00:07:38] They make high quality milk. So that's the first that you start with high quality ingredients. The milk comes in a truck from the cane dairy to us. We get as much or little as milk as we need. And then the rest goes to a local dairy processor that if we don't take it, 

[00:07:54] Wyatt: is it just like taste because the cows are angry.

[00:07:57] What's the difference between good and [00:08:00] bad 

[00:08:00] Dave Irish: milk. It's mostly bacteria load and feed. If a cow gets in an onion field, the milk is going to taste like onions because it will transport over. You know, there's some women who can't eat certain things if they're breastfeeding their kids. And cause it does carry over in the milk.

[00:08:16] The other one is the milking process that can introduce contaminants. And so their standards of raw milk of how much bacteria it can have, how much somatic cell, which is somatic cells are cells that are actually coming from the cow. Due to disease infection, those kinds of things on the individual cows.

[00:08:39] So their standards of what milk has to be, and we are way, way lower than the standard standards in the industry for milk production.

[00:08:49] Wyatt: Okay. So what kind of things happen at the dairy to make sure that our cows are happy? 

[00:08:53] Dave Irish: Well, the first and foremost is that they are, um, there's a new milking system there at the [00:09:00] farm in the last three years.

[00:09:02] That is automated. And if you've never seen the robotic automation down at the cane area, it's really fun to watch. So each cow's bag, they come in, the computer recognizes what cow it is. They claim the utter of the cow. They attach the milking machine, it milk, the cow measures the amount of milk. It measures the weight of the cow, if it's healthy enough.

[00:09:24] And then they manage the herd by feeding them the right amount of nutrients. And they also manage the individual cows so that if one does get a disease and it's being treated, it's not intermixed with the rest of the gals. You don't want somebody with an antibody, um, allergen reaction, getting milk that has antibiotics.

[00:09:44] So any cow that's being treated or managed in any way is separated from the normal herd. The other thing is the milking process. You you've got to keep cows low of stress. You got to keep them so that they can be milked when they want. The more [00:10:00] often you melt, the more productivity you get from a cow.

[00:10:02] Wyatt: Cool. Cool. So after, um, the cow has been milked, what happens to that milk? So then

[00:10:07] Dave Irish: that has to be cooled down quickly, chilled down below 40 degrees in at least four hours. And that's critical to stop any bacteria that might be there from growing. So they have a bulk tank there that the milk goes into. It has a refill registration system on it.

[00:10:23] It cools that milk down and it's stored there until the truck comes to pick that milk up. And then your 

[00:10:28] Wyatt: job starts. 

[00:10:29] Dave Irish: We get milk picked up, uh, early morning and by nine 30 or 10 o'clock, we've pretty much determined what we're going to do at that. Whether it's 1% white or chocolate milk, whether it's milk, it's going to be cheese made into cheese, or whether that's milk, that's going into ice cream next.

[00:10:47] Okay. 

[00:10:47] Wyatt: So you've selected the milk that you want to turn into ice cream. Um, Where does it go from there? 

[00:10:54] Dave Irish: And we put the amount of milk that we need from a batch record for the ice cream mix. We add [00:11:00] the sugar, the corn syrup, solids, the cream, the nonfat dry milk, the cocoa powder. If it's a chocolate batch of ice cream mix and we mix that all together and we heat it up so that any fat is melted, any powders that went in or dissolved completely, we mix it.

[00:11:22] And then we cool it down and then we put it through a pasteurizer homogenizer 

[00:11:28] Wyatt: pasteurize it and homogenize that after you've mixed it with the ice cream. Ingredion correct. 

[00:11:32] Dave Irish: Because there may be contaminants in the sugar. There may be contaminants and other things. So if we pasteurize it and then add things to it, it could be contaminated.

[00:11:42] So we mix it all together. Make sure that it's pasteurized in safety. It's actually the process of pasteurizing and homogenizing and then aging that allows the protein, the fat and the most suppliers to get together in the right way to make a really [00:12:00] good mouthfeel product. So that's real critical. Let's 

[00:12:04] Wyatt: hop into dictionary corner for a second to keep the fat globules from separating out.

[00:12:08] You need to homogenize it or make them all the same size. If the fat globules aren't the same size, they'll push on each other until they split and rise to the top. Next word and emulsifier is something that allows you to mix two things together that normally wouldn't want to mix together. So if you're making homemade mayonnaise, for some reason, the egg yolk is your emulsifier, because it allows you to mix oil and vinegar.

[00:12:33] All right, let's go back to Dave and hear about how altitude affects ice cream. 

[00:12:37] Dave Irish: Well, that's an interesting question, cause it doesn't, it doesn't make any difference when we make it here. The bigger issue is if you make the ice cream, either here. Or down at sea level and then take it up a mountain part of it.

[00:12:51] When we breezed the mics, we incorporate air and those air bubbles. If you make them here and take them [00:13:00] down to sea level, they actually shrink and there's less product in the container than it was up here. And vice versa. If you make ice cream at sea level, you have to accommodate that expanse. If it goes to a higher elevation to be sold.

[00:13:15] So you actually put less in the carton and when it gets to its destination, it's full here, we would fill it up and then it would look like it was less because it would condense. 

[00:13:27] Wyatt: Interesting. Okay. So after it's pasteurized and homogenized, then let's say we 

[00:13:32] Dave Irish: age it in the aging thing. We stir it. We chill it.

[00:13:37] And we allow the protein, the bat and the stabilizers all to come together in a very specific way. So we want every particle of bat to be coated with a layer of protein and a layer of stabilizer because when you freeze ice cream mix and create an ice, crystal, if you don't have that formation, right, the [00:14:00] ice crystals will actually break up the matrix.

[00:14:03] And then if you go through. Thought and refreeze cycle, you'll get ice crystals that feel like sandpaper on your tongue. And if you've ever eaten ice cream made at home, you've felt the ice crystals that are too big. And even though it's wonderful and you love homemade ice cream, it doesn't taste like industrial 

[00:14:22] Wyatt: ice cream.

[00:14:22] So it's aged overnight. Then what happens to the mixture? 

[00:14:26] Dave Irish: Then we have two tanks that we call flavor tanks. So we bring the mix either white or chocolate. Into a flavor tank. And that's where we either add a base of flavor, a color or some kind of thing that makes it specific to that ice cream. So for instance, our number one flavor is blue mint.

[00:14:46] So in the flavor tank, we had the mint flavor and the blue color so that it looks and tastes the way it needs to. It goes from the flavor tank to the ice cream. Breezer. In the ice cream freezer, [00:15:00] just like it is at home. You have a barrel and a spinning mechanism inside that we call the Dasher that allows the ice cream to freeze very quickly.

[00:15:11] In a very thin layer and then get scraped off. And that continues to happen until it gets to the consistency and temperature that we want to pull it out and put 

[00:15:22] Wyatt: inclusions in it. After you have the white chocolate chips and the Oreos and the Aggie blue mint, 

[00:15:28] Dave Irish: put it in a container at about 22 degrees, or you say 22 that's below freezing.

[00:15:35] Yeah. Ice cream because of its solids has to get colder in order to freeze. So it, that Bree's point of ice cream is much lower than water because of the solids. So once we get it in the container, then we put it immediately in the hardening freezer and lock that matrix in so that the particles don't settle out, the [00:16:00] variant doesn't breath, bleed out or spread into the thing.

[00:16:04] It stays as a small Bain in it, and we freeze it down. So from 22 or so degrees down to about minus 10, we've preached the ice cream. 

[00:16:15] Wyatt: And then once it's locked in at that minus 10, um, does it just need to be kept below 32 degrees? Yep. 

[00:16:22] Dave Irish: Only thing that actually breezes is water. That's why it's hard to freeze ice cream.

[00:16:28] The water is bound up in the proteins and the multipliers and the bad, and it has air in between it. And it's trying to make a, a ice crystal formation and it can't. So 22 degrees that ice cream is pretty pliable. It's more like self-serve, but when it gets down to minus 10, you can't get it out of the container.

[00:16:53] So we have to actually warm it up in order to serve it. Ideal serving temperature for our ice cream [00:17:00] is about six degrees. So well below freezing. But above Sub-Zero. So now it's pliable to a degree it's chewable, it's linkable if Mt. Slow and it's the perfect temperature. 

[00:17:15] Wyatt: Yeah. Yeah. What kind of educational opportunity does having this facility on campus provide students?

[00:17:23] Dave Irish: Well, there's different things in food science that you can go into. So there's a dairy science, there's a meat science, there's actually engineering, food science, and then there's nutrition. So you can pick different things that you go into, but we have a functioning meat lab, so it's all hands-on. We have a functioning, dairy labs.

[00:17:43] That's all. Hands-on. We have opportunities for people to do menu items that they work in the nutrition side of it, our engineering students come out and figure out whether a pasteurizer is running at high efficiency or low. They look at heat transfer. Look at [00:18:00] the homogenizer. Even though it's old technologies is very good at teaching people.

[00:18:05] What it means to put something under pressure and people are always scared when they see a modular as it is, it's a big machine. It's just. A high pressure pump. But once the pressure is taken off of it, nothing happens. A balloon is more risky because it flies around and it collapses that are aware of homogenous, or it doesn't, if a line breaks it's done, it just runs out.

[00:18:29] But there's a lot of experience that the students get hands-on and learning. They help us make cheese. They do a lot of experiments and research. We're going to do an industrial research project next week. Where somebody is coming in and paying us to use equipment and our expertise to make a product.

[00:18:46] And it is a, um, without disclosing anything, it is a, uh, dairy product that we're going to make for an outside customer next week. So a lot of, a lot of opportunities. 

[00:18:56] Wyatt: And are they coming to you because it's a good place [00:19:00] to test, like a small batch of something new? Yeah. 

[00:19:02] Dave Irish: They could go to Casper's or. You know how to novice or somebody and say, can we interrupt you process to make a small batch of ice cream or cheese or whatever?

[00:19:11] So 

[00:19:12] Wyatt: what's your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate 

[00:19:15] Dave Irish: chocolate. So to me, favorite means you can always eat it and I can always eat chocolate ice cream. I have others that I'm like, Oh yeah, I'll eat that. But if you just, any time, I'll take ice cream. It's chocolate. 

[00:19:28] Wyatt: I like chocolate ice cream too. It's just easy for everybody to get on board with.

[00:19:32] But I also like licorice ice cream. I need to feel like I'm not alone. If you like licorice ice cream, drop me a comment on Instagram over at, at instead podcast. If you want to see a picture of me and my sister long before our first ice cream truck experience, take a peak at the art for episode 24. How your siblings shape you?

[00:19:52] I hope you enjoyed learning about the science inside Aggie ice cream and the history of Aggie ice cream. You [00:20:00] probably have some friends, you can't grab a scoop of bloomin' with right now, but you can send them a link to this episode and then reminisce about trips to your favorite ice cream shop instead is produced by Nick Vasquez and me Wyatt Tropper as part of our work in the office of research at Utah state university.