HOW IT’S MADE: We all scream for ice cream!

June 18, 2019 8:11 am

It’s June Dairy Month, and here at Hansen’s Dairy, we are celebrating all of our fresh dairy products! Each week in June we will post a new segment in our “How It’s Made” series. This week we are featuring our old-fashioned, premium ice cream.


When we opened our on-farm creamery in 2004, we only produced whole milk. We soon realized there was customer demand for skim milk. When removing the butterfat to make low- and non-fat milks, that leaves a lot of cream left over. So beginning in 2005, we decided to utilize that cream in the best way — to make ice cream!

At first, dairy experts discouraged us from making ice cream with our non-homogenized milk, saying it wouldn’t be smooth and creamy. (Side note: Homogenization breaks down the fat particles in milk so it no longer separates as it sits. Our milk is non-homogenized because we wanted to keep the milk in a more natural state, and not put it through more processing.)

However, through our own trial and error, we did develop a technique resulting in a premium, old-fashioned, homemade-type ice cream. And people have loved it ever since! Our ice cream has a high fat content and very little air pumped into it (aeration), creating a denser texture that freezes harder. It has a cold, clean mouth-feel as opposed to a creamy mouth-feel. 


We now make ice cream in over 20 flavors, which we sell at our own retail stores in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, along with other local restaurants, grocery stores and concession stands. Hansen’s Dairy Waterloo (Moo Roo) sells our ice cream in cones, shakes, malts and sundaes, along with ice cream cakes.

The list below includes flavors we make consistently year-round, unless marked seasonally. We also make limited-time micro-batches for the ice cream dip cabinet at Hansen’s Dairy Waterloo (here’s looking at you, Cookie Monster lovers!).

  • Brownie Batter
  • Butter Pecan
  • Cake Batter
  • Candy Bar
  • Candy Cane (winter)
  • Caramel Cup
  • Chip & Cherry
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Brownie
  • Chocolate Turtle
  • Coffee
  • Cookie Dough
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Key Lime Pie (summer)
  • Lemon Squeeze (summer)
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • No-Sugar-Added Vanilla
  • Peanut Butter Yum
  • Pumpkin Pie (winter)
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla

To make the ice cream, we have to mix the base ingredients first. All flavors of Hansen’s ice cream include skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, locust bean gum, guar gum and dextrose. Cocoa powder is added to make chocolate ice cream. We also make No-Sugar-Added Vanilla, which is sweetened with maltitol. Other flavorings, colorings and candy pieces are added to individual flavors later in the process.


Creamery manager Brad Hansen adds sugar and stabilizer to the ice cream mix.

Occasionally people ask about the inclusion of stabilizer ingredients like locust bean gum and guar gum. Locust bean gum is a natural food additive that comes from the carob seeds of the carob tree. It is used as a stabilizing agent in ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming during temperature fluctuations. (So when you leave your ice cream tub on the counter a little too long after scooping out your after-dinner dessert, it helps prevent icy chunks from forming when it goes back in your freezer.) Guar gum helps thicken and maintain homogeneity of texture. It keeps thinner ingredients combined uniformly with thicker ingredients.

After the base ingredients are added, the mixture is pasteurized, and the heat from the pasteurization helps create a uniform mix. The mix is aged for 12 hours.


Chocolate chunks are added to the batch freezer to make Hansen’s Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

The mix is then put in the batch freezer machine. This is where each batch is hand-crafted with the individual flavorings and chilled to 22 degrees. The ice cream has the consistency of a milkshake after removal from the batch freezer.


Brad Hansen hand-fills containers of Hansen’s Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

We then individually fill (that’s right, no automation here!) each of our containers: half-gallons, pints and half-pints. To complete the process, the ice cream must be placed in the flash freezer to be quickly frozen to -30 degrees. Then it’s distributed to you!


People of all ages love Hansen’s Dairy ice cream!

Check out the other blogs in the How It’s Made series:

HOW IT’S MADE: ‘Legendairy’ milk!

HOW IT’S MADE: Say cheese curd!