Vegan ice creams. Oat based. No artificial flavour.
Oat & Mill came about from wishing I could have an ice cream that tasted undeniably rich and creamy, and reminded me of the local parlour shop I went to growing up. After going dairy-free, in 2015 I started making my own recipe at home of a dairy free version of ice cream. It was challenging to replicate the taste I had imagined and remembered. It wasn’t until I was cooking oatmeal for breakfast on the stove one day that I realized how creamy oats were and saw potential to make them into something reminiscent of the ice cream I had missed. I grew my company from the Carp Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s to expanding onto grocery store shelves.
How we make it good:
All of our vegan ice creams take a lengthy and rewarding process to make. All pastry and baked goods that go into the ice cream are made from scratch in house. We make it over multiple days to get the best flavour and texture. We buy locally in season and hold popular flavours through multiple seasons. The ice cream keeps well when stored in our freezer that has clean and continuous air flow. We try to make all our strawberry ice cream in season so when you get it from us, even months later it will still taste like it did when we made the first batch.
We make the ice cream mix from scratch using our in house developed recipes. The mix is aged overnight to thicken and bring out more flavour. Each flavour we create with additions such as vanilla beans, fresh or roasted fruits, spices, burnt sugar caramels, fresh baked brownies, and hand layered chocolate chunks.
Churning Into Ice Cream
We churn our fresh mix in small batches (about 11 litres per batch) in our special gelato machines that add no more than 35% overrun (air). Our vegan ice creams are denser than your average. Most ice creams contain at least 50% air which makes them lighter and melt faster. As the ice cream is dispensed from the gelato machine we add our mix ins.
We then transfer the goods into a blast freezer to rapidly freeze everything. The faster you freeze, the creamier the ice cream will be. One day we'd like to get a spiral freezer that super freezes the ice cream while circulating. Let the ice creams freeze overnight to reduce ice crystals and make for a super smooth scoop.
Candace Tierney, Oat & Mill's Founder, is an Ottawa Valley entrepreneur who transformed her love of ice cream, commitment to sustainability and belief in giving back to the community into a successful, growing and award winning business.
Oat & Mill's roots trace to the Carp Farmer's Market, a local market held every Saturday just west of Ottawa. The number one question she received, how can I get more of this?
Candace took Oat & Mill on the road! Serving high stacked ice cream cones at events and festivals across Canada. Most of the time gathering line-ups of over 75 people waiting an hour to get some of her ice cream. She knew there had to be a better way!
From there Candace set up a kitchen to make the ice cream, buying her first big machines and hiring a team to help her make more ice cream at scale.
Oat & Mill expanded into over 200 retailers across Canada. Offering 5 flavours in pints on grocery store shelves. Now more people could easily get their hands on the ice cream!
Oat & Mill now sells in over 600+ locations. Including scoop shops and grocery stores, like Whole Foods Market and Sobeys. Candace created a new line of novelties and expanded her flavour line up in stores. Everyone loves the ice cream!
We're working towards circular and why you should care
This is something we've always worked towards and started to put into tangible and real action over the past couple years. Our goal is to create a more circular system as an independent maker in the world of ice cream and pastry manufacturing.
We developed a way to eliminate all waste from processing oats into ice cream. We make our oat cream from scratch with a process that doesn't require "extraction". Often when oat milks use extraction, they remove part of the fibre that doesn't blend perfectly, this results in leftover waste. We have a special process that allows us to keep all the fibre in the oat cream and keeps everything ultra creamy.
In House Production:
Build our own ice cream kitchen and facility and stop relying on co-packers. We built our own facility to better control the quality and production of our ice creams. Did you know that most ice cream brands, even some artisanal brands don't make their own ice cream? The process is called co-packing and most experts will tell you this is the best route for producing and they are correct in many ways. We tried this and found it to be very challenging to control quality, even when it was our recipe in action. We decided to build our own production where we make everything in house and control all the steps involved. We make our mixes from scratch in house, we churn the ice cream in house, we bake all pastry and mix ins. It's more work this way but it tastes better in our opinion.
Putting even more oats into our ice cream base mix. Today we put more oats in our base mix than what you would find in your typical off the shelf oat milk. However, we have some other ingredients in our base mix that we would like to replace with more oats. This is something we're working towards now but does require some r&d still.
We're working towards removing plastics from our supply chain. All of our packaging is transitioning to plastic-free. It's taken some time but we are excited to offer our new ice cream containers made from paper with a sugar cane lining in the cup. The sugar cane replaces plastic and you won't even physically see a difference, it's pretty neat stuff. We are working on reducing plastics that come from other materials into our kitchens, such as our peanut butter that arrives in plastic pails.
We would like to work more closely with local farmers. Our oats today are sourced from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We are working to develop a new system that allows us to work with farmers closer geographically to our facility and that can grow specific varieties of oats. The shorter the distance your food travels to you the fresher and more sustainable our food systems will be. Part of our challenge right now is finding the equipment to clean and process the grain. Please reach out to us if you have some ideas here.