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Strawberry Ice Cream

By amy • • Aug 30th, 2015 • Category: Columns, Dairy, Dessert, Frozen Dessert, Frozen Foods, Snacks, Sweets

For us, it was never just a summer romance. Shelf Life fell in love with strawberry ice cream from the start, and we’ve stayed true ever since. But it seems that others have moved on. Increasingly, nice berries finish last. According to one study, sales of strawberry ice cream have fallen roughly 50 per cent since the 1960s. Strawberry is still the fourth most popular ice cream flavour – after vanilla, chocolate and Neapolitan – but in the frozen dessert industry there is growing speculation that, for the moment, strawberry ice cream is on the wrong side of history.

Much of strawberry ice cream’s decline has to do with a change in consumer preferences. A recent Angus Reid survey indicates that young people are choosing chunkier, high-impact ice creams, such as chocolate chip cookie dough and rocky road. The next wave of ice cream is all about wildly inventive flavour and texture combinations, such as Ontario artisan Alexa Fraser’s vanilla ice cream mashed with apple pies (which seems like an excellent reason to visit St. Catherines). Additionally, strawberry’s sweetness feels too unassertive for generations weaned on extreme potato chips and gummi sours. “And look at the competition,” says ice cream aficionado and Shelf Life judge Grayson Sherman, “the average shopper can buy French vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream, and the chocolate options are practically limitless, from dark to Belgian to what have you. Strawberry, however, is just – strawberry.”

So the stakes are high for strawberry ice cream; no brand is safe. Shelf Life wants to know: which products are pretty in pink?

Looking for the cold hard truth are this week’s expert judges: artist, gourmand manqué and Food Jammer Micah Donovan; chef Maggie McKeown, chef & culinary judge on Food TV’s Donut Showdown; and Calgary’s own Grayson Sherman, former Executive Pastry Chef, Jelly Modern Donuts – all, for the moment, in Toronto. Space limitations prevent us from evaluating every product in a given category; entries reflect the luck of the draw. Items are blind taste tested and awarded between zero and five stars.


Brand One

Kawartha Dairy

Strawberry Ice Cream
1.5L $8.99
widely available
for more information visit kawarthadairy.com

Micah: It smells like potpourri, or fruity Glade. But the texture is decent; it has a good chew. There’s something retro and nostalgic about Brand One; it reminds me of Cleveland in the 80s. It’s definitely blue collar.
TWO STARS**

Maggie: Yes – it’s not artisanal, it’s not hand crafted, it’s your working man’s ice cream. The texture is creamy but the taste is insipid and artificial. Actually if I was blindfolded I would be hard pressed to figure out what flavour this is.
ONE STAR*

Grayson: Having made ice cream for most of my career I have a pretty good idea of what to look for in a quality product, which is fibre and chunks. I want to see reality! But Brand One isn’t a recipe, it’s a formula. The texture is okay but the taste is uninspired.
ONE STAR*

Brand One Total FOUR STARS ****


Brand Two

Organic Meadow

Strawberry Ice Cream
946ml, $7.99
widely available
for more information visit organicmeadow.com/

Micah: It’s super pink, and smells lighter and more refreshing than Brand One. The taste is kind of innocent, and there does seem to be some authentic strawberry in there. I’d be happy if Brand Two and the previous ice cream were blended in a milk shake.
THREE AND A HALF STARS***1/2

Maggie: But you’ve got to dig deep for the flavour, don’t you think? It’s light on the mouth. The good news is that it tastes like strawberry. It’s so delicate, like a tea party ice cream or a birthday party treat.
THREE STARS***

Grayson: Yes, Brand Two is just right for a teddy bears’ picnic. This would be good with a slice of yellow cake. I like its scoopable texture but personally I’m looking for more of a strawberry presence.
TWO STARS**

Brand Two Total EIGHT AND A HALF STARS ********1/2



Brand Three

Häagen Dazs

Strawberry Ice Cream
500ml, $8.29
widely available
for more information visit haagen-dazs.ca

Micah: There’s a slight sour aftertaste, a bit like sour cream, and it’s very buttery, with a tight grain. But it doesn’t remind me of homemade – Brand Three feels like it has been designed by a panel of expert ice cream engineers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
THREE AND A HALF STARS***1/2

Maggie: It’s very fruit forward – it has a lot of chunks of berry. There are also seeds in there. Brand Three tastes like butter and jam and is definitely a premium ice cream.
FOUR STARS****

Grayson: There’s a nice soft fragrance, and if you look at Brand Three in the spoon you can see there’s less air and less fluffiness than your average ice cream. There’s something like sour cream or crème fraiche buttermilk that’s giving it an edge I’m not crazy about, which is kind of off-putting. But it rings very true, it’s sincerely made.
FOUR STARS****

Brand Three Total ELEVEN AND A HALF STARS ***********1/2




Brand Four

Marble Slab

Strawberry Ice Cream
1L, $12.49
widely available
for more information visit marbleslab.ca

Micah: The colour is CNE pink, summer pink, and the mouthfeel is okay,  I like the fluffiness. It’s got a middle of the road flavour with a touch of salt. I look at Brand Four as my one night stand of ice creams, it’s a cheap date. It smells like sugar cones and lip gloss.
THREE STARS***

Maggie: I kinda like this one – it’s a guilty pleasure. It’s the colour of Dubble Bubble gum and the mouthfeel is really fatty. The strawberry taste is uniform all the way through. It’s not an upscale product but if you knocked it out of my hand I’d kill you.
FOUR STARS****

Grayson: This to me is like the red stripe in the Neapolitan ice cream I was given as a kid. The colour is unnatural and it probably contains loads of xanthan gum. The colour is like Jackie Kennedy in a bowl –
or, wait – this is what Taylor Swift eats when she writes songs.
THREE STARS***

Brand Four Total TEN STARS **********


Results: By more than a few licks, Häagen Dazs emerged the winner. Runners up Organic Meadow and the disappointingly-not-Gothic-at-all-given-its-name Marble Slab fared well, while Kawartha proved to be a bit of a dribble.

Off The Menu: As we speculated earlier, perhaps one reason for strawberry ice cream’s fall from grace is its lack of bite – unlike, say, raspberries, strawberries have minimal tang or edge. But there is a solution to humdrum sweetness: the drizzle. Strawberry ice cream becomes something else entirely with a sprinkling of, say, organic balsamic vinegar, or even – for outliers only – a shot of Worcestershire sauce. Other waker-uppers include orange liqueur, chai, coriander, crème de menthe, and shavings of ultra dark chocolate.

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