Everything You Need to Know About Plant-Based Ice Cream
What the Impossible Burger did for faux meat, a new California-based startup hopes to do for ice cream. Eclipse Foods, founded by Thomas Bowman and Aylon Steinhart, recently launched its plant-based ice cream in collaboration with scoop shops OddFellows and Humphry Slocombe. The “cowless creamery” aims to lay the groundwork for a new frozen dessert experience, once that is indistinguishable from traditional dairy ice cream. What sets Eclipse Foods apart from the dairy-free ice cream brands currently on the market is that its base isn’t a dairy alternative, it’s a dairy replacement. We took a deep dive into Eclipse Foods’ product, plus a couple of other plant-based ice cream offerings, to see what the newest food trend is all about. Here’s everything you need to know about plant-based ice cream.
Cover Photo: Deagreez (Getty Images)
1. Plant-based ice cream is made from more than just plants.
Eclipse Foods uses a broad ingredient base that includes ancient corn, cane sugar, canola oil, cassava, oats, potato, and water to create its ice cream.
2. Flavors can be still be just as wild as regular ice cream.
In its collaboration with OddFellows, Eclipse Foods will introduce plant-based miso cherry and olive oil plum flavored ice creams. With Humphry Slocombe, it’ll be spiced Mexican hot chocolate flavor. Online plant-based ice cream retailer Wink offers pints in cake batter, cocoa dough, cinnamon bun, salted caramel, and s’mores, among other flavors. Some plant-based ice creameries aren’t as creative. Pressed Juicery offers pretty standard flavors of its Freeze soft serve: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and pumpkin.
3. It’s better for you.
Plant-based ice creams tend to be non-GMO. Eclipse Foods’ ice cream is also free of allergens, coconuts, gels, gums, nuts, seeds, soy, stabilizers, and wheat. (Yikes! What have all us ice cream eaters been consuming over the years?) Wink says its ice cream is free from sugar, erythritol, and maltitol. (We don’t know what those last two ingredients are, but they can’t be good.) One pint of Wink will only set you back 100 calories, too, so you can binge guilt-free.
4. It’s going to cost you.
Nobody said eating well was going to get more economical. On the contrary; expect plant-based ice cream to be substantially more expensive than what you could order at Dairy Queen or pick up in the supermarket freezer aisle. OddFellows charges $12 for a pint for its Eclipse plant-based ice cream. Wink clocks in at $6 a pint while Pressed Juicery charges $7.50 for a cup of its plant-based soft-serve. If the price doesn’t cure you of your ice cream addiction, you might consider if a dairy stomachache is worth saving yourself a few bucks.
5. Taste-testers can’t tell the difference between dairy ice cream and plant-based ice cream.
Food critics have found that the flavor of Eclipse’s plant-based ice cream was almost indiscernible from dairy ice cream. What’s more, CNN reported the plant-based frozen treat “looked, tasted, and melted” in the same way dairy ice cream does.
6. Plant-based ice cream tastes better than vegan ice creams.
Most people can differentiate between dairy ice cream and vegan ice creams, which use almond or coconut milk as a base. With plant-based ice cream, however, the difference from dairy ice cream is slight if it’s noticeable at all. This makes plant-based ice cream the clear winner over vegan ice cream when it comes to non-dairy frozen desserts. It's been real, vegan ice cream, but your day in the spotlight is done.
7. It isn’t easy to find.
New York and San Francisco are the only markets where Eclipse Foods’ collaborative ice creams are currently available. Pressed Juicery has several locations in both New York and California, plus shops in Las Vegas, Seattle, and Forth Worth (of all places). Wink is available to anyone with an internet connection. If you enjoy eating ice cream in a cool public setting, you'll have to travel or move to get that ambiance with plant-based ice cream. Otherwise, it's a pint in your pajamas on the couch for you.
8. But someday, it will be available more widely.
Eclipse Foods’ founders dream of their product being as widely available as the Impossible Burger – not just on shelves in the co-op or even your chain grocery story, but being served at fast-food counters across the country. Even more ambitious, the company wants to expand beyond ice cream, and create other traditional dairy foods like cheese and sour cream with their plant-based formula.