Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oh My COWS (Creamery)

One of my favorite things we did in Prince Edward Island was tour the COWS Creamery factory.  If you're Canadian, chances are you've at least heard of COWS.  If you're American, you've probably not heard of them.  Bummer.  You're totally missing out.

They have numerous ice cream shops across the province and have expanded across Canada in recent years.

COWS is manufactured exclusively on PEI, with cream and eggs from local farms and dairies. According to our tour guide, COWS premium ice cream is made with 16% butterfat cream, sugar and eggs, and is churned really slowly to make sure that the ice cream you're eating is actually ingredients, not air.

Interesting thought - the tour guide brought this up, but it's true!  Have you ever noticed that some ice cream you can just plow through a whole pint in one sitting, but other brands you can't? The difference is how much air is incorporated into the ice cream when it's freezing.  If you were to let a pint of store brand ice cream totally melt you'd probably end up with around 1/2 to 1/3 of the pint full of liquid.  If you let a pint of COWS melt, you end up with at least 3/4 pint of liquid.  That's some high density ice cream...

Here I am with my cup of fabulous strawberry ice cream
Whew! No wonder a small cup was all I could polish off.  It's really filling, but awesome stuff.

M didn't have a problem inhaling his ice cream

Anyway, back to the factory tour. So, the workers place buckets under the spigot of the massive ice cream machines and as the ice cream comes out, they shake or pour in the mix-ins - I think this guy is adding chocolate syrup?  We saw another worker adding chocolate chips, then waffle cone pieces, then toffee bits to another batch.

And speaking of ingredients, COWS uses the best!  The strawberries for the ice cream I had were grown on the island.  Yum.

Then, after the buckets are full, they pop the covers on and load them onto carts that are wheeled into a huge freezer to finish firming up before being shipped out to various locations.

COWS is also famous for it's parody t-shirts.  They have one for almost everything.  Apparently, they began making the shirts just for the staff, but they became so popular with the customers that they began selling them alongside the ice cream at the retail locations.   They come out with 24 new designs every year, which are then retired at the end of that year.  So, if you like a design, you'd better snap it up, because it will disappear. Here's the latest women's designs.  Of course, I HAD to buy a t-shirt to add to my collection.  Mine says, "Keep Calm and Graze On."  Yes, I went there.

We got to see some t-shirts being printed too.  That was cool.

The t-shirts are placed on these paddle-type things that rotate.  This massive machine sprays the color on (a different color for each arm of the machine), then a squeegee scrapes off the excess.   Then the shirts rotate to the next arm and the process is repeated until all the colors have been added to the shirt. Then they dry them in a big oven thingy (that's the technical term, I'm sure), inspect them for quality, then tag and fold them for sale.

The last thing we saw on the tour was the cheese.  Here's the storage room where the wheels of cheese are being aged. They gave us samples to try.  That is some SHARP cheddar.  Oh, and good to know - the cheese itself doesn't get moldy.  It's wrapped in a bunch of layers of cheesecloth, and that's what gets moldy. The cheese itself doesn't. It's a whole long process, I won't even get into that.  But it was very interesting. I love seeing how food is made!

Here's us at the rental house.  Check out my official COWS t-shirt! As usual, I should probably add my disclaimer... I am not an employee or representative of COWS and did not get paid anything to recommend their product.  I just really like it and I know if you get the chance to visit COWS, you will like them too.  Totally blows Coldstone and Marble Slab right out of the water. Serious.

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