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Unveiling the Artisanal Marvels: The Untold Truth of Salt & Straw

The Untold Truth of Salt & Straw: Exploring the Unique World of Artisanal Ice Cream

Ice cream lovers rejoice! If you’re a fan of unique and adventurous flavors, then Salt & Straw is a name that needs to be on your radar. This artisan creamery in Portland, Oregon, has gained a cult following for its out-of-the-box creations and commitment to using locally sourced, organic ingredients. In this article, we’ll delve into the untold truth about Salt & Straw, uncovering the fascinating stories behind its founding, innovative flavors, and the creative minds that brought it to life.

A Journey from Pushcart to Iconic Creamery

Salt & Straw’s humble beginnings can be traced back to a pushcart on the streets of Portland. Founded in 2011 by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek, the creamery faced initial construction delays for their brick-and-mortar store. Determined not to waste any time, they decided to set up a pushcart and begin selling their unique ice cream creations in Northeast Portland. Despite braving the unpredictable weather and standing outside in the rain and sleet, their dedication and exceptional flavors quickly caught the attention of locals and tourists alike.
As Kim Malek shared in an interview, the pushcart days required a lot of teamwork. Tyler would make ice cream in the morning, attend culinary school, and then join Kim in the evening to scoop. Word of their delicious offerings began to spread, leading to increased publicity and overwhelming demand. The pushcart soon became a flagship location, paving the way for Salt & Straw’s meteoric rise to success.

A CEO with a passion for ice cream and community

Behind Salt & Straw’s innovative approach is CEO Kim Malek, whose journey into the world of ice cream was influenced by her past experiences. Prior to co-founding Salt & Straw, Malek worked for Starbucks, where she started as a barista during her college years and eventually held a corporate role as director of Frappuccino. Her time at Starbucks instilled in her a people-centric approach and a deep respect for the importance of community.
Malek’s involvement with RED, the charity founded by Bono to fight AIDS, further shaped her perspective. The lessons she learned from navigating the nonprofit sector and fostering a sense of community influenced the core values of Salt & Straw. Malek’s dream of opening a community-focused ice cream shop became a reality, and Salt & Straw became a beloved institution where ice cream lovers could gather and indulge in unique flavors while supporting local producers.

A name rooted in ice cream history

The Salt & Straw name has a rich history that pays homage to the origins of ice cream. In the early days of ice cream making in the United States, the process involved hand mixing cold salt water and cream in a bucket. Once the cream was frozen, it was wrapped in straw until it reached the desired consistency. The name Salt & Straw captures this traditional method and serves as a nod to the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating exceptional ice cream.
While the name may seem obscure at first, it has become synonymous with the exceptional flavors and quality that Salt & Straw offers. As Kim Malek shared, the significance of the name was recognized by a customer who had visited Thomas Jefferson’s estate and witnessed the historic ice cream making process. Ultimately, the unique name adds an extra layer of charm to the Salt & Straw experience.

From beginner to ice cream wizard

What sets Salt & Straw apart is not only its inventive flavors, but the fact that neither of its founders had any previous experience making ice cream. Tyler Malek, now the head ice cream maker, admitted to having wild ideas without fully understanding their practicality. To bring their vision to life, Tyler taught himself the art of ice cream making.
Armed with four used ice cream machines, Tyler set up shop in Kim’s basement and relentlessly experimented and created recipes. He also sought guidance from local businesses and culinary experts in Portland, expanding his knowledge and refining his techniques. Within a week, Tyler had created an impressive repertoire of 30 new flavors. Though initially met with skepticism, his creations soon won over Kim, who named him Salt & Straw’s head ice cream maker.

The Science Behind Salt & Straw’s Creamy Masterpieces

Creating the perfect ice cream requires a deep understanding of the scientific properties at play. As head ice cream maker, Tyler Malek brings his mad scientist tendencies to the forefront. Experimentation and a firm grasp of how ingredients interact allow him to push the boundaries of flavor and troubleshoot any problems that may arise.
The base of Salt & Straw’s ice cream is milk, cream and sugar, with each ingredient carefully selected for its quality and flavor. To achieve the desired texture and creaminess, Tyler pays close attention to the ratio of these ingredients and the balance of fat, sugar and water. This meticulous approach ensures that every scoop of Salt & Straw ice cream has a velvety, smooth mouthfeel.
But it’s the imaginative mixes and flavors that really set Salt & Straw apart. From unexpected pairings like pear and blue cheese to bold experiments like bone marrow and smoked cherries, the creamery’s offerings defy traditional norms. Each flavor is carefully crafted to strike a delicate balance, allowing the different elements to shine while harmonizing in a single spoonful.
In addition, Salt & Straw’s commitment to using locally sourced, organic ingredients adds a layer of freshness and sustainability to their creations. By partnering with local farms and producers, the creamery supports the community and ensures its ingredients meet the highest standards of quality and taste.

A Farm-to-Cone Approach

The farm-to-cone philosophy is at the heart of Salt & Straw’s ethos. The creamery prides itself on sourcing ingredients directly from local farms, embracing the flavors and seasonal variations that each region has to offer. This approach not only supports local agriculture, but also allows Salt & Straw to create flavors that reflect the unique characteristics of the Pacific Northwest.
By building strong relationships with farmers and producers, Salt & Straw ensures that its ingredients are sourced sustainably and ethically. This commitment to transparency and responsible sourcing resonates with customers who value knowing where their food comes from and how it is produced.

Lines, Oprah and Beyond: Salt & Straw’s Rise to Fame

Salt & Straw’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned them widespread acclaim and a loyal following. It’s not uncommon to see lines outside their stores, filled with eager customers waiting to sample their latest creations.
The creamery’s unique flavors have also caught the attention of influential figures. Even Oprah couldn’t resist the allure of Salt & Straw, as O Magazine gave their Arbequina Olive Oil flavor a shout-out in 2012. The accolade further propelled Salt & Straw into the spotlight and solidified its status as a must-visit destination for ice cream connoisseurs.
As Salt & Straw continues to expand, opening new locations and captivating taste buds across the country, the founders remain committed to their original vision. They strive to create ice cream experiences that are not only delicious, but thought-provoking and memorable. With an unwavering commitment to craftsmanship and community, Salt & Straw has revolutionized the ice cream industry, proving that sometimes the most extraordinary flavors can be found in the most unexpected combinations.
So the next time you find yourself in Portland or at one of Salt & Straw’s locations, be prepared to embark on a taste adventure. Indulge in flavors that push boundaries, savor the craftsmanship, and join the legions of ice cream lovers who have fallen under the spell of Salt & Straw.
– The Untold Truth of Salt & Straw
– Salt & Straw builds an ice cream empire one scoop at a time
– Salt & Straw’s Kim Malek on why you should never chase trends
– Episode 6: Kim Malek, CEO of Salt & Straw, on building a remarkable ice cream brand


Salt & Straw’s ice cream is characterized by adventurous flavors and unconventional combinations. They use locally sourced, organic ingredients to create unique flavor experiences that push the boundaries of traditional ice cream.

How did Salt & Straw get started?

Salt & Straw began as a pushcart operation in Portland, Oregon. Cousins Kim and Tyler Malek began selling their innovative ice cream creations on the street before eventually opening their flagship location. Their dedication and exceptional flavors quickly garnered attention and made Salt & Straw an iconic creamery.

Who is behind the success of Salt & Straw?

Salt & Straw’s success can be attributed to CEO Kim Malek, whose passion for ice cream and community played a major role. Kim’s previous experience at Starbucks and involvement with charitable organizations shaped her vision for Salt & Straw, emphasizing a human-centered approach and support for local producers.

What is the inspiration behind the name Salt & Straw?

The name “Salt & Straw” pays homage to the traditional method of making ice cream, where the cream was churned in salt water and then wrapped in straw. This historical reference underscores the craft and artistry that goes into making exceptional ice cream.

How does Salt & Straw source its ingredients?

Salt & Straw takes a farm-to-cone approach to sourcing ingredients directly from local farms. By building strong relationships with farmers and producers, they ensure the use of sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients, allowing them to create flavors that reflect the unique characteristics of the Pacific Northwest.

Why has Salt & Straw become so popular?

Salt & Straw’s commitment to quality, innovation, and community has been widely recognized. Their unique flavors, commitment to using fresh and organic ingredients, and captivating taste experiences have attracted a loyal following. In addition, recognition from influential figures like Oprah has put Salt & Straw in the spotlight.

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