A Visit with Sugar & Salt Creamery:
Jon Carpenter's Delicious Vegan Ice Cream

Maker Tour

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Who: Jon Carpenter
What: Sugar & Salt Creamery 
Where: Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, California

I've spotted a curious blue short bus all over Santa Barbara lately, always surrounded by happy kids munching on ice cream. My curiosity finally got the better of me, and that's when I discovered Sugar & Salt Creamery and its founder, Jon Carpenter. Jon, together with a small team, creates creamy sorbet from sprouted almond milk and local, organic produce. Yes! I've finally found the holy grail of healthy summertime treats!

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Jon Carpenter grew up in a small town in Southern California, and never gave too much thought to vitamins, minerals and health. But while working as a member of the Coast Guard, he began to eat more healthfully, filling up on the bounty of California organic produce that was so readily available year round. He began juicing as many fruits and vegetables as he could, and this process led to making almond milk, which in turn led to creating a base for a healthful, sprouted almond milk sorbet. 

Sugar & Salt's vegan sorbets come in a variety of seasonal, produce-driven flavors ranging from fruit-forward flavors like strawberry, peach apricot, blackberry and mango, to spice/add-in driven tastes like coffee with cacao nibs, salted caramel, cinnamon (this combo tastes like a horchata!), thai iced tea, almond vanilla and beyond. The flavor inspiration comes from what's ripe at the farmers market and whatever else Jon's got a hankering to experiment with. Every flavor is made with almond milk, organic cane sugar and fruits/spices. That's it.

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Jon makes his almond milk sorbet in a commercial kitchen in Soho, a popular music venue in Santa Barbara. He shares the space with Juice Ranch, another small business focused on making a highly nutritious food product. Together the two makers test flavors and serve as each other's sounding board. To make his business tick, Jon spends many long hours in this kitchen preparing the ice cream. When we met just a few days ago, he'd been in the kitchen until 1am the previous night and woken up at 5am to get down to the Santa Monica farmers market where he sells his almond milk.

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Jon's curiosity, ingenuity and ability to tinker have acted as the backbone of his business. When asked how he developed his base recipe and myriad of flavors he quickly responded, "trial and error." There's no secret here. Just hard work. Having studied aviation and mechanical engineering, it's clear Jon likes to resourcefully problem solve. From developing his own blender using magnets to fixing up the 1966 mail truck that now acts as his vegan ice cream mobile, this DIY ingenuity permeates every aspect of his work. He's passionate about healthy living and wants to get people hooked on a treat that lacks preservatives, conventional ingredients and fillers. 

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Want Sugar & Salt Creamery to come your way? Jon's blue truck is available for private events wherein clients pre-pay to have his almond sorbet available for party guests. Jon loves kids' birthday parties because he gets to serve kids his healthful ice cream and get their unfiltered feedback. They love certain flavors and aren't shy to let Jon and his crew know if a certain type isn't working for them. Jon takes this criticism seriously and tweaks flavors with the kids in mind. 

Jon's vegan ice creams are sold through his truck at various locations in Santa Barbara (see the schedule here) and at Isabella Gourmet Food's in Santa Barbara. Jon also sells his raw, sprouted almond milk at the Santa Monica farmers market every Wednesday.

Visit the website → Sugar & Salt Creamery

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Jon's 5 Tips For Making Non-Dairy Ice Cream at Home

  1. "A nutritious vegan ice cream begins with good nut milk. Make sure you are careful to select the best possible water source when making your nut milk."

  2. "When creating flavors, there’s nothing better than adding fresh seasonal fruits. When I choose fruit for my flavors, I incorporate only local, organic fruits from the farmers market to obtain essential nutrients and minerals in my final product."

  3. "Replace refined sugar with unrefined sugars and natural sweeteners such as stevia, coconut palm sugar, or organic cane sugar."

  4. "Preservatives are not necessary because they replace what nature already nutritionally offers when ingredients are properly incorporated. Take the time to read the labels because you are responsible for the ingredients that you are putting into your body."

  5. "Conventional foods and preservatives are sterile foods and lack essential minerals that whole foods are capable of providing. Non-pasteurized products are perishable and adding Himalayan sea salt will both preserve and add depth to the flavor of your non-dairy dessert."

Thanks, Jon and Sugar and Salt Creamery!

(Images: Leela Cyd)