Lotte's hoeve-ijs (Lotte’s farmhouse ice cream): an ice cream counter offering 7 flavours 60 metres from a cowshed; you can’t get any more traditional than that. Christel and Mark have a farm in Liezele (Puurs), Belgium, and they came up with the idea of making ice cream from their own cows’ milk six years ago. What started as a small-scale experiment turned into popular ice cream that people were willing to queue a long while for. Lotte’s hoeve-ijs, named after their daughter, has now become a household name in this municipality in East Flanders.
Read on for an interview with Christel, the driving force behind Lotte’s hoeve-ijs.
I think it’s important for people to know that our ice cream is made with milk from our own cows. Milk is a key factor in ice cream, which cannot be compared to bottled milk. Plus, our cows are allowed to graze outdoors, which has a direct effect on the taste. Our grass-fed milk is also pasteurised on site, so people get freshly churned farmhouse ice cream from the freshest milk. We feel it’s important to make sure our customers know that.
What’s more, the flavours are great and that makes the difference. We currently offer seven flavours at the counter and fourteen in the tubs. Vanilla is the most popular, followed by spiced biscuit ‘speculaas’ and forest fruits. So, our range is not huge, but customers often come back, which is very pleasing to see.
To be quite honest, we just happened to discover Colac during a demo at the wholesaler’s. What has always appealed to me is the fact that Colac is a Belgian product. Not only that, Colac took us seriously from the very beginning. They don't regard us as that small farm in Liezele; we are as important to them as major ice cream producers. Furthermore, the collaboration was just successful from the start: we churned a first batch of vanilla together and we instantly tasted the difference.
Colac has been there from the start and continues to inspire me now. Lesley from Colac just pops in from time to time. He takes initiative and comes up with new suggestions to break away from conventions. This helps me considerably, as ‘continuous innovation’ is one the greatest challenges in the industry.
We develop new recipes together that go beyond the development of original flavours. They also assist in the creation of sugar-free and lactose-free ice cream, for example. Not only that, I can also count on them for the finishing touches to the ice cream counter. I sometimes look on YouTube for decoration ideas, but when you try this together with Colac, you can instantly notice the difference. For example, they gave us the top tip of trying out a variegato. I would never have thought of that myself – you don't find tips like that on YouTube!
To be honest, we didn’t know we would receive so much support. The guidance is really in-depth and they are creative with feedback. The request to provide variegatos with larger pieces, for instance, was not only positively received, but also actually carried out. That makes Colac the ideal collaborative partner.
‘I sometimes look on YouTube for decoration ideas, but when you try this together with Colac, you can instantly notice the difference.'
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