Why Is Salt & Straw’s New Ice Cream With Day-Old Bread Pudding So Good?

Portland-based ice cream maker Salt & Straw is bringing new meaning to ‘guilt-free’ ice cream (and not in the harmful diet culture way) with its limited-edition Upcycled Foods Series. While the words ‘upcycled food’ might seem questionable to some, it really just means finding uses for perfectly edible but unwanted food that would've otherwise gone to the landfill. Salt & Straw has worked with several community upcycling organizations to create these new flavors, which have already been designated Upcycle Certified by the Upcycled Food Association.

The Upcycled Food Series features five deliciously diverse flavors, which I was lucky enough to sample. And because I am a good child, I shared them with my parents, who, being parents, also had notes. Here’s a rundown.

1. Day-Old Bread Pudding & Chocolate Ganache

This flavor was created in collaboration with Urban Gleaners, a Portland-based nonprofit redistributing food from high-end restaurants and grocery stores to schools and agencies working to end hunger. Salt & Straw worked with Urban Gleaners to gather bread from around Portland that would have gone to waste and incorporated it into a custard bread pudding ice cream layered with housemade chocolate ganache.

My thoughts: I loved this flavor because it reminded me of my favorite (tragically discontinued) flavor of Ben & Jerry’s: Cinnamon Buns. Gone, but never forgotten. Anyway, this flavor had that certain je ne sais quoi which I associate with Cinnamon Buns, and it made me so happy to taste it again. In fact, I would go so far as to say this might be better than Cinnamon Buns because it was perfectly salty-sweet and you could really taste the quality of the ingredients.

Note from my mom: “Very good. Not too sweet.”

2. Lemon Curd & Whey

This flavor was created in collaboration with The Spare Food Co., whose mission is to create food and beverage products that aim to fix the broken food system which views overlooked ingredients as food waste. The tart, tangy gelato is infused with The Spare Food Co.'s upcycled whey based, chef-crafted, climate-friendly probiotic sparkling Lemon & Ginger Spare Tonic.

My thoughts: I was slightly apprehensive given that the name includes the words ‘curd’ and ‘whey,’ but my doubts disappeared as soon as I took a bite. This flavor was incredibly delicious! You could really taste the quality of the lemon curd, and it reminded me of a lemon meringue pie.

Note from my mom: “It tastes like a really good lemon bar. I like that it’s not too sweet.”

3. Salted Caramel & Okara Cupcakes

This vegan flavor was created in collaboration with Renewal Mill, an upcycled food company that turns nutritious byproducts from food manufacturing into superfood ingredients and premium, plant-based desserts. It features a salted coconut oat milk ice cream base studded with bits of dark chocolate cupcakes, frosted with vegan caramel and featuring okara flour, a flour made from the pulp leftover when making soy milk.

My thoughts: I loved this flavor. I usually have lower expectations for non-dairy ice creams, but this went above and beyond. It was a great combination of flavor and textures, and I especially loved the vegan caramel.

Note from my mom: “I can’t believe it’s non-dairy! Love the balance of salty and sweet. That’s a great use of cupcakes.”

4. Cacao Pulp & Chocolate Stracciatella Gelato

This flavor was created in collaboration with Blue Stripes, a cacao brand founded by famed chocolatier Oded Brenner. Cacao gelato, made using the whole pod including the shell and pulp, is striped with ribbons of melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate stracciatella.

My thoughts: This flavor was so interesting, I have never tasted anything like it! It was very bright and almost had a berrylike quality. I also really liked how it incorporated multiple textures, with the contrast between the crunchy chocolate bits and creamier gelato base.

Note from my mom: “It’s very interesting! Are you sure it doesn’t have berries in it?”

5. Malted Chocolate Barley Milk

This vegan, allergen-free flavor, created in collaboration with Evergrain, features chocolate barley milk and candied fig ice cream infused with upcycled malted barley milk; a protein packed ingredient that’s made from “saved grain” from the beer production process.

My thoughts: This was a super unique flavor. I could definitely taste the barley, and it wasn’t too sweet. I think this would make a great base for a milkshake or ice cream sundae.

Note from my mom: “It reminds me of overnight oats…in a good way. It would be great with some cookies.”

Eco-conscious ice cream lovers can order flavors from the Upcycled Food Series at Salt & Straw stores through the end of June. If you don’t live near a scoop shop but still want to sample these deliciously innovative flavors, you can order the entire collection from Salt & Straw’s website to be shipped nationwide.