Professor Stephanie Clark stands in front of some of the equipment that will be used to produce ice cream and cheese once the micro-creamery is up and running this fall. The micro-creamery will be located in the Center for Crops Utilization Research pilot plant in the Food Sciences Building. Photo by Whitney Sager.

Micro-creamery coming to Iowa State University

June is National Dairy Month, and soon the milk produced by the dairy cows at the ISU Dairy Farm will be used to produce ice cream and cheese right here on campus.

For the past couple of years, Professor Stephanie Clark in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition has been working on plans to open a creamery at Iowa State. The first phase of her plan will come to fruition this fall with the opening of a micro-creamery in the Center for Crops Utilization Research pilot plant, located within the Food Sciences Building.

The micro-creamery will be situated in the southeast corner of the pilot plant, and will include a clarifier/separator, a pasteurizer cheese vat, an ice cream freezer and sanitation equipment. Beginning in August, Clark hopes to train as many as five to six students who will work in the micro-creamery.

“It’s meant to train students and give them valuable experience so they can take practical skills into food science careers and dairy science careers,” Clark said of the micro-creamery.

Clark and the student employees will start by making ice cream, including the much-anticipated ISU Signature Ice Cream, created by a team of food science seniors. In December 2017, the winning ice cream concept of the ISU Signature Ice Cream Contest was announced. The peanut butter ice cream with scotcheroo balls and fudge swirls, which honors Iowa State alumni George Washington Carver and Mildred Day, will be featured at various Iowa State events.

The milk needed to produce the ice cream, and later, cheese, will come from the ISU Dairy Farm.

The micro-creamery is just the first step to building and opening a large-scale creamery, to be called the ISU Dairy Products Innovation Center (DPIC). Not only will the DPIC produce ice cream and cheese, but, like the micro-creamery, it also will serve as a place for students to gain experience working in the dairy industry. Additionally, Iowa dairy farmers will come to the center to learn how to turn their milk into products in a small-scale environment, rather than selling their extra milk to other states, Clark said.

Retail space would be included at the DPIC, where cheese and ice cream products would be sold.

This summer, Clark will work with students in the CyBIZ Lab, through the Ivy College of Business. The students will go over Clark’s business plan, help her conduct feasibility studies and SWOT analyses, and further help her along the way of turning her DPIC dream into a reality.

Once the DPIC is up and running, Clark’s hope is that the micro-creamery will continue in operation in the Food Sciences Building for the sole production of the signature ice cream, to keep peanuts out of the DPIC.

Funding for the micro-creamery has come from Clark’s Virginia M. Gladney Professorship, Savencia USA, as well as from the Midwest Dairy Association. Additional funding will be sought from dairy industry stakeholders, in cooperation with the ISU Foundation.

Clark hopes the success of the micro-creamery will help push forward plans and start-up funding for the DPIC, which is estimated to cost approximately $5.7 million. Funding will be sought from private industry and alumni, in cooperation with the ISU Foundation.