Jeni Britton Bauer has been making ice cream out of Columbus, Ohio, for nearly 20 years, but only under the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams name since 2002, when their first shop opened in Columbus’ North Market. Starting with cream from local, grass-grazed cows, their ice creams are built from the ground up with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. While their ice creams and sorbets change from season to season, some flavors are available year-round, including Queen City Cayenne, The Buckeye State (peanut butter and dark chocolate), Wildberry Lavender (one of our favorites), and Brambleberry Crisp.
We stopped by the Jeni’s production kitchen to see how exactly these incredible ice creams come together. While we were there, the team was scooping pumpkins for the Cinderella Pumpkin flavor, taking a blowtorch to some mini-marshmallows for the to-die-for Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows, labeling their famous hand-labeled pints, and scooping Brambleberry Crisp into pints.
Jeni’s ice creams are made in five Italian gelato machines. "To make really great ice cream you need two things: a great ice cream recipe and a great machine," said Bauer. "We use gelato machines from Italy because they incorporate less air into the ice cream. Even though we make American scoop-shop ice cream — that is to say hard-pack, hard-scoop ice cream — we make it with Italian machines. American ice cream machines make a fatter ice crystal and fluffier ice cream. And while the Italian gelato machines are considerably more expensive, we couldn't make Jeni's without them." We were wondering how they made their ice cream, so we decided to see for ourselves.