Cool Treats for a Hot Planet: Salt and Straw’s Upcycled Ice Cream

Salt and Straw, a popular ice cream chain in California, wants to help save the climate by selling recycled ice cream. OK, we know that sounds bad at first glance. But there’s a very good explanation for it. Bear with us as we explain.

Lots of people think of recycling as the process of placing old glass or paper into their blue bin and putting it at the curb. In reality, recycling extends much deeper than that. The classic model of recycling also includes reuse. In fact, reuse of otherwise wasted things is considered even better than recycling.

Upcycling to the Rescue

That has spawned the concept of upcycling. This involves taking materials that would otherwise be wasted, and transforming them into something new and usable. It keeps waste out of the landfill or compost bin and creates new and useful things from stuff that would have been thrown away.

That’s precisely what Salt and Straw is doing with their new upcycled ice cream menu. The menu includes unique flavors that are certified upcycled, and are created with raw materials that would otherwise go to waste.

One flavor, for example, features cacao pulp. This is a byproduct of the chocolate-making process that would normally be composted or discarded. Instead, Salt and Straw has worked it into a delicious ice cream flavor.

Another flavor makes use of whey, a byproduct of the cheese-making process. Whey is still perfectly usable, but it’s often discarded by cheese makers. Instead, Salt and Straw has incorporated it into their menu.

Salt and Straw’s Upcycled Flavors

Here’s the full menu of upcycled flavors at Salt and Straw.

  • Lemon Curd & Whey
  • Cacao Pulp & Chocolate Stracciatella Gelato
  • Malted Chocolate Barley Milk (v) 
  • Salted Caramel & Okara Cupcakes (v)
  • Day-Old Bread Pudding & Chocolate Ganache 

To accomplish this feat of ice cream recycling, the company has worked with a variety of local partners to help source their upcycled materials. It’s a big step forward for sustainability and combating climate change (and in creative Bay Area ice cream).

The Upcycled Food Trend

It’s also part of a broader trend in the Bay Area and beyond. We recently worked with Boichik Bagels here at the Bay Area Telegraph on an experiment to upcycle old bagel materials into chicken feed. Our chickencycling experiment was super successful and a lot of fun!

You can also purchase upcycled food items from companies like Imperfect Foods. They source slightly damaged, misshapen vegetables that would otherwise be discarded and deliver them to your home. I also just tried an upcycled liquor made from whey.

Other Bay Area companies are embracing upcycling too, all in an attempt to promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly way of living.

So head to Salt and Straw for a taste of delicious ice cream–and also a taste of a new and potentially more climate friendly future.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.
Back to top button