You'll Baaaaaaah for This Ice Cream!

And It Has Some Healthy Bonuses, Too!

Written by Gayle

I have tried a lot of different foods in my day, and I love dairy products.  Cheese, yogurt, custards, sauces and dips, and of course ice cream.  My father was a dairy farmer when I was a little girl, and we loved our ice cream!  We even had an old hand-crank ice cream freezer and I remember well taking my turn at cranking.  One of the funniest old black-and-white home movies we have is of my brother being fed ice cream as a toddler and shuddering from the cold with every bite!  Our dad laughed and laughed at every shudder.

So ice cream is a tasty stroll down memory lane for me, but I do try to limit that rich creaminess to a once-in-a-while status.  

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image courtesy of Alexis Negranti
This week, however, I was introduced to an ice cream that I can not only enjoy, but also can feel good about eating!  We visited Alexis from Negranti's Sheep Milk Ice Cream in Paso Robles, and learned some of the great qualities of her Sheep Milk Ice Cream.

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It wasn't too long after her graduation from Cal Poly in 2009 that Alexis Negranti realized that sitting behind a desk was just not going to cut it for her.  She had grown up in Paso Robles, and had participated in 4-H and FFA, and had raised sheep as a little girl.  Her grandfather had cattle, so Alexis was familiar with the farm life.  So when she was trying to figure out how she'd like to get out from behind that desk, she decided to get a few sheep.  In early 2011 she started to milk her sheep, and also was toying with the idea of making ice cream from the nutritious and delicious milk.  By that fall her operation became a legal dairy so she could sell the milk.  Once she started to ramp up production of her ice cream, she decided to sell her sheep to a nearby farmer, who keeps the sheep happy with 100% grass feed all year round.  He farms his own sod (with no chemicals) to feed the sheep.

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photo courtesy of Alexis Negranti
Let's take a little detour and talk about sheep's milk.  Of all of milk available, sheep's milk is one of the most nutritious.  It naturally has a higher fat content, but it is the good fats, not the saturated ones.  It is naturally homogenized, so it doesn't separate like other kinds of milk.  The proteins in sheep's milk are much easier to digest, and so many people who are lactose intolerant can consume sheep's milk and products made from it.  Sheep's milk is naturally sweeter than cow's or goat's milk, with a rich, nutty taste.  It also retains all of its nutritional value when it is frozen.  I found this handy comparison chart on the blog: 

You can see that there are some real nutritional benefits to sheep's milk!  The higher fat content, as well as carbohydrate may give you pause, but when Alexis makes her ice cream she does not add any additional cream or fat, and she doesn't need as much added sweetener.  She makes her own base from two ingredients: sheep's milk and tapioca (a starch extracted from cassava root.)  That's it!  She then adds flavors and sweeteners--from local sources and organics whenever possible--to blend her delicious varieties.  She uses real ingredients--no syrups--like strawberries and basil, as well as a local vanilla from Cook's Vanilla in Paso Robles!

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This is Alexis's operation--you can see a batch of seasonal pumpkin ice cream ready to mix in the tub before freezing!

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Alexis and Ali (Alexis's right hand man since the product launch in 2011!) froze and packaged a batch of sweet vanilla while we visited--and we got to taste it, too.  It was delicious!  The creaminess defied its less than 8% fat content (premium ice creams are up to 20%, and even gelato has a fat percentage in the teens!)

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It didn't take too long before the batch was ready to pop in the freezer and get ready for delivery.  Because Alexis doesn't use any stabilizers, her ice cream needs to stay frozen until you're ready to serve.  

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Look for Negranti Sheep Milk Ice Cream in Lassen's freezers!  It's a great product that you can enjoy without the guilt!

Thanks Alexis, for hosting us and sharing the story of your unique and delicious ice cream!

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Alexis and Wade Negranti (photo courtesy of Alexis)