Sustainability is sexy. And in 2024, it’s totally possible to make eco-friendly food choices without sacrificing deliciousness. Case in point: what if you could help prevent food waste by eating ice cream? Salt & Straw is making this dream a reality with its Upcycled Foods Series.

For the second year in a row, the Portland-based ice cream maker has released a menu of unique eco-friendly flavors, all designated Upcycle Certified by the Upcycled Food Association. The cherry on top? The series was created with over 38,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise been wasted.

The Upcycled Food Series features five flavors, which I was lucky enough to sample. Here’s a rundown.

Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Banana Bread

Photo by Salt & Straw

This flavor was created in collaboration with Urban Gleaners, a Portland-based nonprofit working to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity. Banana bread ice cream (made with “rescued” bananas) is mixed with chocolate-coated “Uglies” potato chips and a ribbon of handmade caramel.

My thoughts: This had a really pleasant but not overpowering banana flavor, which is an impressive balance. The banana bread and chocolate potato chip chunks added some nice texture, but were kind of forgettable, especially next to the illustrious caramel swirl. Guys, this might be the best caramel swirl I've ever enjoyed. So rich, so silky, so complex, and perfectly salty. I am now spoiled for all other caramel.

Passion Fruit Yuzu Mochi Donuts & Whey Curd

Photo by Salt & Straw

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 that views overlooked ingredients as food waste. It features whey-infused frozen yogurt with passionfruit-spiked lemon curd and homemade yuzu-glazed butter mochi donuts.

My thoughts: I was kind of apprehensive going in because this pint has a lot going on. But I was pleasantly surprised by its refined, elegant flavor profile. The bright swirl of passionfruit lemon curd contrasted beautifully with the creamy tang of the whey-infused frozen yogurt. The mochi donuts were a nice textural addition, but TBH I couldn’t detect the yuzu flavor. This flavor is so unique and grew on me as I ate it, and I was quite sad to see the bottom of the pint.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies

Photo by Salt & Straw

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 chewy caramel-frosted chocolate brownies churned into a sweet oat milk base.

My thoughts: I am not a fan of oat milk-based ice cream. I like my ice cream rich and creamy, and oat milk just doesn't do it for me. That being said, I loved the chocolate brownies and golden caramel frosting generously churned into this flavor, and I definitely cleaned out the pint. No food waste here! 

Malted Chocolate Barley Milk

Photo by Salt & Straw

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. I’ve tried this flavor before, and this time I liked it way better. Maybe my palate has become more refined? We’ll go with that.

Cacao Pulp & Chocolate Stracciatella Gelato

Photo by Salt & Straw

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! The bright and berrylike cacao pulp was perfectly accented by rich, crunchy chocolate flakes. It was simultaneously light and rich, the perfect treat for a sunny spring afternoon.

Eco-conscious ice cream lovers can order flavors from the Upcycled Food Series at Salt & Straw stores through the end of April. 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.

#SpoonTip: Use code WELCOME15 for 15% off your first order. 

#SpoonTip: Use code WELCOME15 for 15% off your first order.