We caught up with Rob to get the inside scoop on his utterly delectable and totally organic handmade ice cream.
What inspired you to set up the business?
Our family have been dairy farmers in Somerset for generations, so we already had a really good source of quality milk (better known for the cheddar, Westcombe Dairy). My brother and I had always talked of ice cream as a product that we could add further value but were never that inspired by the category in the UK. Whilst working in my previous career someone told me about the craft ice cream scene in the US and it got me really excited. The more I researched and followed what these guys were doing, made me really want to do something similar in the UK.
What methods do you use to make your ice cream?
We use a traditional French custard base for our ice cream. So, at the heart of it, it’s just really simple, natural ingredients you would use to make homemade ice cream (just milk, cream, egg yolk and sugar in the base). No artificial stabilisers or emulsifiers that nearly all ice cream producers heavily lean on. We felt this was important given where we were coming from, already making a very traditional style of cheese, even though they are separate entities.
Importantly though, we make everything from scratch. Pretty much all ice cream producers will buy their flavours and additions from flavour houses, and just mix them into a standard ice cream base before or after freezing. We always start with the raw ingredients, with every flavour having a unique recipe we formulated ourselves. It’s meant we’ve had to really understand the science in formulating ice cream. This is something that’s at the core of US craft ice cream and what made me want to start up!
Where do you source your ingredients from?
In our base, we obviously use Westcombe Dairy milk. Egg yolks come from Clarence Court in Wiltshire and our cream from Cotswold dairy. The sugar we use is also British beet sugar.
As we make everything from scratch, we deal with a lot of individual ingredients. We have a great supplier of vanilla, from a vanilla importer based in Wiltshire. All the fruits we use, are generally very British centric, so where there is a local supplier we can buy direct from, we will. As we make an all-natural ice cream, we need to make sure our ingredients have the same make up too. So, for chocolate we use Pump Street Chocolate. Not only is it great stuff, but it is also made up of just 3 simple ingredients, cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cane sugar.
What sustainable practices does the brand employ?
Simple ingredients, with very little processing and low food mileage is a big part of what we do. On top of this, we have always placed a big emphasis on sustainable packaging. Our ice cream tubs are all cardboard, with a PLA lining making them plastic free and compostable. We take this to every level of our packing though. The tape on our boxes to carry the tubs is also a paper craft material. We sell online also, delivering overnight with dry ice to keep it frozen in transit. It still needs insulation, so instead of polystyrene, we were the first ice cream company to use recycled denim insulation.
What’s your best-selling flavour?
Frustratingly, Salted Caramel seems to be the firm favourite.
Don’t forget, Brickell’s ice cream van will be joining us outside of the Farm shop every Friday, Saturday and Sunday across the summer. Come and discover your favourite Brickell’s flavour!