Once every few months, I get in touch with my contact at Graeter’s so I can sample some of their seasonal selections that are released throughout the year. Although Banana Chocolate Chip and Summer Peach were both included in my latest shipment, I was most excited about the pint labeled The Original Salted Caramel. According to them, “Our family has been making Salted Caramel for over 100 years as one of our original parlor flavors. We slow cook brown sugar and cream to perfection and season it with a dash of salt to give this ice cream an intense natural caramel flavor.” Salted Caramel is a concept that’s been done by practically every single ice cream manufacturer by now, but the French pot process should really be able to show off this classic combination.
My contact at Graeter’s had this interesting story to share about this particular flavor, “There's actually a somewhat amusing story behind this ice cream. We've made Caramel ice cream (which contained salt) for longer than anyone can remember, including 84-year-old 3rd generation owner Lou Graeter. We've even found it on old ice cream menus from the 1920s. For years it was a terrible seller. We tried to discontinue the flavor but the people who actually did purchase it were extremely passionate so we kept it in our stores just for them. We are a candy confectioner too so we had to make the caramel that we used for the ice cream base anyways so ultimately we kept it. Fast forward to last year when we were sitting in a product development meeting...
Nick: Salty caramel has been a hot flavor for a few years now, its time for use to make one.
Chip Graeter: We already have a salted caramel and its better than anyone else's on the market.
George Denman, VP of Sales: It doesn't sell well in our stores, maybe we need to change the recipe
Bob Graeter: Okay I'll work on a new formula
2 months later after we tried Bob's "new" recipe
Nick: Bob, this tastes the same
Bob Graeter: Yeah, I decided our currently version tasted better than anything else I came up with so we're going to keep it the same.
Richard Graeter: Okay, let's rename it Salted Caramel, update the packaging and sell it to Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Earth Fare. This story sums up working for the Graeter family who believe in tradition more than anyone else I've ever met.
Just by changing the name in our own stores, sales have skyrocketed. Go figure!”
Graeter’s Salted Caramel short ingredient list contains only 10 components and manages to come in at an extremely accurate 279 calories per serving; which is pretty light compared to some of their flavors featuring chocolate chips. After removing the bright orange lid, I’m left looking at a first layer that looks similar to their seasonal Pumpkin and Cinnamon flavors. Without their signature chips to impede the path of my spoon, securing a big bite of the Salted Caramel ice cream is much easier than usual. As expected, the French pot process produces an ice cream with far less overrun than much of the competition. This slow-melting, ridiculously smooth ice cream is simply impossible to beat when we’re talking consistency. Across their entire flavor lineup, this is the one thing that remains unaltered and most appreciated by my palate.
Fortunately for us, Graeter’s has added to this near-perfect consistency by including a well-balanced combination of flavorings. Each bite leads with the sweet tastes of the brown sugar and cream and finishes with just a slight bite of salt on the backend. If you’re looking for a really salty ice cream, you may be a bit disappointed in this one. Despite the fact they don’t go overboard with the salty aspect, Graeter’s sweet approach still results in one of the best salted caramel ice creams I’ve had. This isn’t a flavor normally found on shelves, but if you so happen to run across a pint, I highly suggest you give it a shot.
Where I Found It: Graeter's Online Store