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Let’s talk about how we make plant-based Rum and Raisin ice cream at Frozen Fruit Co. It involves an email, a nice request, someone named Hannah, and of course – some plant-based ingredients.
My name is Michael and I have been making plant-based ice cream for over 11 years. As the chief flavor creator and plant-based ice cream maker at Frozen Fruit Co, it is my role to plan out our flavors each month and come up with new creations. You see I believe that plant-based ice cream should be a celebration of flavors and craftsmanship. A sweet treat that you can feel better about eating – natural sweet and made completely from plants and fruits (wherever possible). A sweet treat that doesn’t compromise on what it is that makes us all love ice cream.
It is not always as easy as you think.
One of the flavors I have been trying to master for a while is Rum & Raisin.
Rum & Raisin
Rum & Raisin. It sounds like a slightly more unusual ice cream flavor, right? A little bit more out there. But, growing up in the UK Rum & Raisin was a flavor you could find in absolutely every ice cream parlor and personally, it is one of my favorites. The combination of that distinctive rum flavor with sweet raisins all combined with a creamy ice cream base just works. I mean it really works.
But how can you make a plant-based Rum & Raisin ice cream and would anyone ever want it? That is the question that I was asking myself for years. Every time I would sit down to think about the flavor I would put myself off making it.
“Would anyone like it?”
“I’ve never seen it in any other ice cream stores before in the States”
“How would I even make this?”
These questions would always go through my head and eventually pressed for time I would focus on other flavors. This was a 7-year process.
So, what changed?
Well, like with most things in life sometimes you just need a push in the right direction to make things happen. For me, this push came in the form of an email from one of our amazing customers – Hannah.
At the beginning of December 2023 I received an email from Hannah that went like this:
Hello Frozen Fruit Co!
My whole family have been long fans of fro fru. We are dairy free so the unique and delicious flavors at frozen fruit co have been a wonderful change of pace. We even ordered the truck a couple times on my parents’ TV show as a crew gift.
My mom’s birthday is coming up, and her favorite flavor of ice cream is rum raisin. She hasn’t been able to have it for forever because of her lactose intolerance. I saw that you recently added a cinnamon and raisin pint, so I was wondering if I could request/suggest a rum raisin flavor for the holidays.
How could I turn down a request like this? It was finally the motivational shove I needed to get into gear and make this flavor happen. I had a couple of weeks to create something that would do justice to one of my favorite flavors of time but still keep my philosophy of ice cream making – Simple and minimal ingredients, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, and sweetened with only natural fruit sugars (like date).
The foundation of any exceptional ice cream is, without a doubt, the quality of its ingredients. For our Rum and Raisin Plant-Based Ice Cream, I started with a base of coconut cream. I chose this because I wanted the ice cream to have a creamy and rich texture (it is the reason I use coconut cream in most of my ice creams). The coconut cream provides the perfect canvas for the infusion of flavors that define this classic treat.
To sweeten it I chose organic date. This will provide a light rich sweetness to the ice cream base. Providing sweetness over any coconut flavor without overpowering the rum and raisin flavor profile I was aiming for.
Next up, and most importantly was the rum. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want to use actual rum in the ice cream. Plus putting alcohol (especially higher ABV alcohols) into ice cream is a nightmare for the freezing process. Why? Well, if you haven’t noticed if you ever put a bottle of liquor in your freezer it tends to not freeze. This is because alcohol lowers the freezing point of water. Instead, I opted to find the highest quality pure rum flavoring I could find. One with minimal ingredients and no artificial anything. I settled on this Pure Rum Extract from Olive Nation. A non-GMO, Gluten-Free, Kosher, PG Free, Vegan-Friendly Rum extract made from Alcohol, Water, and Rum Extractives.
Finally, for the raisins, I opted for 100% unsweetened California Raisins. Raisins are already naturally sweet and I wanted to make sure that when you ate the ice cream they gave some chewy texture and an extra hit of sweetness. Too much and it would overbalance the flavor profile away from the Rum.
Infusing the Rum Essence
The star of the show is the rum extract. This is the thing that would elevate this plant-based creation to a realm of indulgence. This step is crucial in achieving the signature taste that has made Rum and Raisin a timeless classic in the world of frozen desserts. The careful balance of coconut cream and rum essence is where the magic truly begins.
To infuse the ice cream with the warmth and complexity of rum, I opted to carefully test out small amounts in the ice cream until the flavor profile I received was an instant hit of rum flavor when tasting. The flavor of sweet rum is what I wanted you to taste first. It should make you go “Oh wow, that tastes like rum”. This flavor should then die away and make way for the creamy ice cream base followed by the final notes of sweet Californian Raisins.
Making It Into Ice Cream
Thanks to the rum extract there was no need to leave the mixture to sit and infuse together. The flavor came immediately out in the ice cream. Everything was harmoniously paired and I was super excited to put this into the ice cream machine.
Now you have to be particularly careful at this stage as I find that freezing often can numb flavor down. You have to take account of this when making ice cream. Often you want a stronger flavor profile in your ice cream mix before it goes into the machine. Otherwise, you can end up losing a lot of flavor in the freezing process.
It was now time for churning.
Churning is “THE PROCESS” in ice cream making. Whether you are making plant-based or dairy ice cream. It is the thing that turns your ice cream mixture into “ice cream”. This process is critical for achieving the creamy, velvety texture that defines our plant-based ice cream at Frozen Fruit Co. The churning not only ensures a luxurious mouthfeel but also distributes the raisins evenly, guaranteeing a consistent flavor profile in every bite.
Freezing to Perfection
After the churning is complete, our Rum and Raisin Plant-Based Ice Cream undergoes a careful freezing process. This step is essential to lock in the flavors and textures that make this treat a customer favorite. At this stage, you want to freeze the ice cream mixture as quickly as possible. The longer it takes to freezer the less creamy it will be.
The End Result
What was the result? Well, it came out amazing. I know you expect me to say that, but honestly, it did. When you taste the flavor you are immediately hit with a strong sweet rum flavor. It hits you in the front of your palate. This then dies down to make way for a creamy sweet ice cream base followed by the chewy sweet raisins. It was the result I was exactly looking for.
The result is a product that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of plant-based enthusiasts and traditional ice cream lovers alike.
My Final Thoughts
I never thought I would ever get around to making a Rum & Raisin flavor. I just thought it wouldn’t be possible. Especially how we make plant-based ice cream at Frozen Fruit Co (plant-based, naturally sweet, vegan, and gluten-free). If it wasn’t for Hannah – this probably, no wait, this wouldn’t have happened. So thank you, Hannah. Thank you for being so amazing and making one of my favorite flavors happen.
Rum and Raisin is now officially part of our, now, over 100 different plant-based ice cream recipes. I’ll be sure to rotate it in and out of the store’s menu periodically (it is too good not to have).
If you want to see our flavor selection then check out our flavor page here – because remember flavors rotate.
Cheers and Big Love
p.s. if you ever have a flavor suggestion like Hannah be sure to message me. You can reach me on Instagram @frozenfruitco or on the Contact Us page of the website.