|Churning out the "The Best in the Midwest"
Gary Neer, Whitey's plant manager knows ice cream. He and his talented staff start early every morning and can churn out 600 gallons of ice cream an hour. Mr. Neer knows ice cream by sound, look, touch and, of course, taste.
Whitey's Ice Cream uses only the highest quality ingredients. Fresh cream and milk are the primary ingredients, and we use select added ingredients, like vanilla from Madagascar, our own rich, home-made fudge, slow-roasted, buttered and salted pecans and our own made-fresh brownies to name a few.
Mr. Neer and his workers start with Whitey's own ice cream mix recipe. This ice cream mix has no flavor and is made of milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and milk powder. The ice cream mix is stored in refrigerated storage tanks (the main 4 compartment tank holds a whopping 6000 gallons of mix). Held under constant agitation and proper temperature, this mix patiently waits to be transformed into Whitey's Ice Cream.
After a day in refrigerated storage tanks, the mix is ready to go through the three stages that distinguish complicated flavors such as cookie dough from the standard chocolate or vanilla. From the storage tank, the ice cream mix is pumped into the flavor vats in 300 gallon batches. Liquid flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and Kona coffee are added here.
From the flavor vats, the ice cream travels to one of three ice cream freezers. These freezers utilize an industrial refrigeration system to freeze the ice cream. Whitey's freezers are "continuous freezers", meaning the flow of ice cream does not stop when we switch from one flavor to the next. In the barrel of the freezer, air is injected into the mix and the ice cream is whipped and frozen. When the mix touches the cylinder wall, it is frozen instantly and spinning scrapers, or "dashers", scrape the frozen ice cream from the cylinder wall as more mix is drawn in to be frozen. The mix is transformed to ice cream during its travel through the freezer in a matter of a few short seconds. When the ice cream flows out of the ice cream freezer's barrel, it's about the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
The amount of air infused into the mix during freezing results in what is known as the ice cream's "overrun". Most ice cream manufacturers create ice cream with an overrun at close to 100 percent, meaning that for one gallon of ice cream mix you get 2 gallons of finished ice cream. Whitey's Ice Cream's low overrun is one reason why our products stand out from the crowd. Lower overrun allows us to produce a far superior product, one which is creamier, more flavorful and possesses a more desirable "mouth feel".
If the ice cream flavor has a fudge or swirl, the ice cream travels to the variegator. This is where heavy liquid "swirl" type ingredients such as fudge, strawberry swirl or caramel are injected into the ice cream. This machine neatly injects the flow of ice cream with a ribbon or swirl of a heavy variegated flavor like the fudge swirl in Whitey's White Tiger Paws ice cream.
The final step before packaging is the addition of inclusions or bulky ingredients, such as fruits, nuts and chocolate chips. The ingredients are "dropped" into the semi-solid ice cream after it leaves the freezer using a machine called an "ingredient feeder" or "fruit feeder".
After the flavoring additions are completed, the ice cream can be packaged in a variety of containers (3 gallon containers, half gallons or pints), malt cups or molds for ice cream bars. A series of valves direct the ice cream to one of several machines to package the flavor in multiple container sizes.
It is quickly transported to a "hardening room," where temperatures are maintained at a crisp 20 degrees below zero. Ice cream remains in the harding room for a minimum of 12 hours before it leaves our plant and is finally distributed by our fleet of trucks to area stores.