I was blessed to be asked to spend the day with the folks at Hudsonville Ice Cream,
learning about their practices, production and products.
I'll have to admit that prior to this trip, I didn't know much about Hudsonville ice ream. I knew they were a Michigan company and I know that just over a year ago they took great strides to label their gluten free products. (25 flavors to be exact!) And after spending time touring their facility and learning more about them, they may have just won over this girl as a loyal customer.
Hudsonville Creamery was started (as a co-op) in 1895 and they started making their first ice cream in 1926. That means Husdonville has been around in some capacity for over 100 years! But as I learned a year ago, Hudsonville no longer resides in Hudsonville. It's made a few moves in its lifetime, and it is now located in Holland. But even though the address has changed, the commitment to excellent ice cream hasn't.
As consumers are interested in supporting local more and more, so is Hudsonville. I was amazed to learn that all of their dairy comes from within 60 miles of their plant. They actually receive milk to the facility that was milked from the cow within the past 12 hours! They took us over to Pyle Farm, located in Zeeland to meet the dairy farmers that they work with. It was such a blessing, as I think far too often for this country we take where our food comes from for granted. It reminds me the hard work that these people do every day to make sure that the food the comes to our table is great in quality and superior in safety.
|Nate Pyle and his family have been part of this farming community since 1848.|
A little over a year ago, Hudsonville hired Ray Sierengowski to be their Director of Product Development. Ray has been involved in the food science industry for over a decade and has been excited to help Hudsonville develop new flavors and products. He told us that when he interviewed for the job, he impressed upon them the need and the public's desire for natural products.
And it was out of that dream that the new Hudsonville Naturals line was born.
Not only did they tell us about their processes, they took us through through the entire plant, allowing us to ask questions. As a person with Celiac Disease, I asked about the steps that they take to prevent cross-contact, especially as they have flavors that do contain gluten. They have a very detailed allergen matrix which lays out what flavors can be run after others. If there is any concern, they will shut down the complete system and flush it. This is no small order, as it takes hours. Not only do they take allergen safety steps in their facility, but they also offer training for scoop shops to educate them on allergens. While this is primarily done through their website, they are also willing to drive out to scoop shops to give in-person education.
|This package just came off the line. Their -40 degree freezers turn it rock hard within 90 minutes.|
|Ray holding the door open for us at lunch at New Holland Brewing. What a gentleman!|