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Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

Purple Door's Premium, Local Ice Cream

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Given Milwaukee's love of all things dairy, it's a bit of a surprise that the city didn't have its own ice-cream wholesaler until this spring, when Lauren Schultz and her husband, Steve, launched their Purple Door Ice Cream company. The business was the culmination of a longtime dream for Lauren, a Bay View resident who, like her husband, holds a day job as an educator.

“I had wanted to have an ice-cream business since I was in high school, and I've been making my own ice cream since I was in college, using one of those cheap ice-cream makers where you put the ice and the rock salt in it and spin it around,” Lauren says. “Steve and I have been making ice cream for years in our kitchen, experimenting with flavors and talking about opening a business, and eventually Steve said, 'Let's just go for it,' so we started Purple Door about four months ago.”

Lauren describes Purple Door's ice cream as “super-premium,” and its ingredients bear that out. It's made with 14% butterfat, so it's richer and creamier than the mass-produced ice creams that use about 10%, and the company works with local ingredients whenever possible. The espresso ice cream (one of Purple Door's best-sellers, along with salted caramel) is made with coffee beans from Anodyne Coffee Roasting. The chocolate chips in the mint chip come from the Milwaukee-based Masterson Co.; Growing Power supplies the fruit for some flavors. Even the cinnamon in the cinnamon ice cream is local; it comes from Penzeys Spices.

“Part of what's been fun about this business is seeing what's available locally,” Lauren says. “There's so much that's available right in our community.”

Purple Door also supplies ice cream to local restaurants, including Ryan Braun's Graffito, Pastiche Bistro, Honeypie and Mikey's, working with the restaurants to create special, menu-specific flavors like mascarpone, balsamic strawberry and, most unusually, bacon. The company is also experimenting with liqueur-based flavors.

Purple Door ice cream is on sale at Beans & Barley, Groppi's, Metcalfe's Market, Outpost Natural Foods and Sendik's on Oakland, as well as at the Tosa Farmers Market on Saturdays. As part of the company's Milk for Milwaukee initiative, a portion of every sale goes to supplying local homeless shelters with fresh milk.