The inside scoop: Crafting ice cream at Call Hall

Jake Eckert (left), agricultural technician, and Jared Parsons, dairy plant manager, fill containers with fresh "Purple Pride" ice cream at Call Hall’s dairy plant on Tuesday. (Tiffany Roney | Collegian Media Group)

Any K-State student worth their purple salt has had a cone of ice cream from the famed Call Hall, either from the hall itself or from their new location in the Student Union.

To get to the ice cream counter, though, every ice cream cone starts with the university’s own herd of dairy cows, numbering more than 200 Holstein cows today.

Jared Parsons, dairy plant manager, said about 20 percent of the milk produced from these black-and-white cows stays on campus while the remainder is sold off to Dairy Farmers of America.

Call Hall is part of the animal science department on campus and serves as both a fully functioning dairy production facility and a classroom for first-hand experience. The hall produces more than 45 different flavors of ice cream, but how does that sweet treat get from cow to creamy goodness?

Parsons said the first step in making ice cream is with the whole milk brought in by trucks from the dairy farm, which is then pumped through the pasteurization machine at the plant.

“This is what makes it safe, and then it is pumped into the holding tank,” Parsons said.

From there, the cream gets separated.

“We get 10 gallons of cream for every 100 gallons of whole milk that are ran through it,” Parsons said. “So we end up with 90 gallons of skim and 10 gallons of cream.”

From the cream, two different types of mixes are produced: a white and a chocolate mix.

“From those two mixes we can derive the 46 flavors on the book,” Parsons said.

The mixes contain milk, cream, dry milk powder and two types of sugar and are cooked and held at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes in a 200-gallon vat. From there, the mix is rapidly cooled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and placed into 220-gallon storage tanks for a day.

From there, the mixes are placed in individual 55-gallon tanks specific to their flavors in preparation for freezing. In the flavor tank, the necessary dyes and flavorings will be added. The mixes are frozen in a 1961 Cherry Burrell continuous ice cream freezer capable of pumping out 80 gallons of frozen ice cream per hour.

“It is original to the plant and has made every drop of Call Hall ice cream ever sold,” Parsons said.

Soft serve ice cream comes from the machine, but in order to become the Call Hall ice cream on the shelves, it has to go through one last process: hardening.

The ice cream comes out of the machine at 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but needs to be taken down to -20 degrees or -25 degrees, Parsons said.

“Without the step of getting it down to -20, it would become gritty very fast like your mom or your grandma’s homemade ice cream,” Parsons said.

Call Hall contains a blast freezer which is maintained at -28 degrees Fahrenheit for the hardening of the ice cream.

Jake Eckert, K-State alumnus and employee at Call Hall, said it takes about two days to complete the whole process of making the ice cream.

Once hardened, the ice cream is ready to be sold to the dairy plant’s customers.