Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon: Cult US ice cream company creates crazy flavours out of food waste

Cult Oregon-based ice cream maker Salt & Straw are a huge deal in Portland, US,  where massive queues of people snake out the doors and down the street to sample some their unique ice cream flavours.

None have been as unique, however, as the five flavours about to go on sale.

The ice-cream dream team have created the new themed flavours to "illustrate the creative ways food can be reused, rescued, preserved and redirected in the most delicious of ways," they claim.

Rescuing food and increasing waste awareness is their goal, and together with Urban Gleaners, who work to alleviate hunger in Portland, they've partnered up with local producers to supply the waste they've created the flavours from.

Collaborations are the norm for Salt and Straw, who often work with local chocolate makers and cheese makers, distillers and coffee roasters, to create some truly out there flavours.

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Regulars on the menu include Pear and Blue Cheese (with local cheesemongers Rogue Creamery) and  Arbequina Olive Oil (with Red Ridge Farms' Oregon Olive Mill and apparently Oprah's favourite).

This month they've taken advantage of California's superbloom and created wildflower inspired flavours such as Iris Liqueur & Edible Flowers Sorbet, made with Florentine-inspired liqueur from Eugene, Oregon. The liqueur is made by using the roots of the iris flower, and the ice cream is jewelled with hand-placed organic edible flowers such as pansies, begonias, rose petals and orange blossoms.

Iris Liqueur & Edible Flowers Sorbet.

Iris Liqueur & Edible Flowers Sorbet. Photo: Salt & Straw


At their brand new soft serve market, they sell goth soft serve dipped in grey chocolate with sesame, made with local chocolatier Cocanu's black sesame blend, sprinkled with matcha sesame seeds. The soft serve flavours include Elderflower Lemon and Smith Teamaker Big Hibiscicle Sherbet (from a prized local teamaker).

But none of these flavours are as crazy these five new creations.

Spent grains from breweries usually end up on the floor, however, those from Portland's Breakside Brewery are now going to be spared for this new Spent Grains and Bacon S'Mores flavour. The grains will be toasted to bring out the sweetness and then ground into a powder which will form the basis of the ice cream. Bacon marshmallow fluff will be supplied from pigs at a near-zero-waste local farm that live off surplus food.

Portland cheesemaker Ancient Heritage will supply the whey - the byproduct of making cheese - for their Lemon Curd and Whey flavour. Whey has a tart, almost citrus-like quality which makes a great base for a lemonade icecream - to this they will add 'gobs' of lemon curd.

Ancient Heritage's Lemon Curd and Whey.

Ancient Heritage's Lemon Curd and Whey. Photo: Salt and Straw

Urban Gleaners will supply baguettes for Urban Gleaners' Toasted Baguette PB&J. There's a huge surplus of bread from bakeries ever day; Salt and Straw are not letting it go to waste by toasting the bread, then steeping in sweet cream to extract the toasty flavour for the ice cream, then folding frozen berry jam and chocolate peanut butter throughout.

A portion of the menu sales will be donated to Urban Gleaners.

We're using excess ingredients in super unique ways, like using spent grains from local breweries, ugly farm vegetables, and leftover breads from local grocery stores," said Salt & Straw head ice cream maker Tyler Malek.

"More importantly, I get to work alongside Urban Gleaners, who is making a significant change in our community. We wanted to put this incredible agency in the spotlight, tell their story, and see if we can get our customers and the community at large to be more aware of and supportive of the tireless work that they're doing."

Salt & Straw have four locations in Portland, and five new locations in Los Angeles, plus one in San Francisco. You can find them here.

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