The pandemic has brought forth any number of unexpected things. For Jeci Casperson it brought about the opportunity to pursue her passion for ice cream and share it with others.
She’s done so through Ruth Galley’s Craft Ice Cream, a fledgling business which offers creatively flavored pints of ice cream delivered direct to peoples’ homes via contactless delivery.
Casperson says the business was born of serendipity. After being furloughed from her corporate project management position early on in the pandemic, she says she found herself filled with uncertainty.
“I was so scared,” she says. “I’d never been unemployed in my life and I didn’t really know what to do. But, after a week of Netflix binging, I found myself making batches and batches of ice cream.”
It wasn’t exactly an unfamiliar activity. Casperson had been making ice cream for years, sharing it with friends and family at dinner parties and conjuring up crazy new flavors for her nephews. But this time it was different.
“I made so much and I couldn’t eat it all myself,” she says. “So I put out a call to family and friends on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to try my ice cream flavors… and the overwhelming response blew me away. I spent the next two weeks running around like a crazy lady trying to fulfill all the orders.”
Shortly thereafter, Casperson was relieved to get called back to work. But she also realized that she’d unearthed a new passion that demanded her attention.
“I’d always had this dream of starting my own business; but there was always something that stopped me from moving forward. This time, I didn’t have anything to lose. So, I decided I’d take on the ice cream business as my side hustle.”
From there, she did her due diligence, acquiring both licensing necessary to start her business and signing on with Chef Pam’s Kitchen, a commercial kitchen space in Waukesha out of which she could work. By September, she says, she was up and running, offering Ruth Galley’s Craft Ice Cream to a growing number of eager customers.
The name of the business is an homage to her late grandmother and grandfather, both of whom played significant roles in her life as she was growing up.
“My middle name is Ruth,” she says. “That was my great grandmother’s name. And my grandfather served in the navy and collected galley ships. As kids we always thought it was so fun to look through his collection… so galley is a nod to him and his passion.”
Casperson says she’s always made ice cream flavors that couldn’t be found in the grocery store. Some like “Cookie Monster” she made for her nephews. Others, like sweet potato marshmallow with pecans, were inspired by classic holiday dishes.
“I just love creating new, unexpected things,” she says, noting that flavors like “Christmas 2020” (charcoal buttermint ice cream) were born of memories of Christmas past. “I remember getting these little packets of coal-shaped gum as a stocking stuffer. When you chewed it, it would turn your entire mouth black.”
Christmas 2020 won’t turn your tongue black, but you might be surprised by the flavor, which knits together the holiday flavor of peppermint with the richness of butter.
Get your pint(s)
Casperson’s ice cream is made from scratch using whole milk, cream, eggs and sugar as a base. And it’s available to customers through her “Pint of the Month Club,” a home delivery service that delivers one pint of ice cream a month directly to a customer’s home for three or six months ($30 or $60; pricing includes delivery).
“Every month I make three flavors,” she says, “And customers pick the one that they’d like delivered. If they decide they’d like to try more than one, they can purchase additional pints for $6 each.
Customers can sign up for a subscription anytime before the 15th of the month. From there, Casperson works with each customer to settle on a good time for delivery.
“I’ve been delivering everything myself using contactless delivery,” she says. “I contact customers to let them know when I am coming and text them once it is at their door. It is like the best game of ding-dong ditch.”
Casperson delivers to locations within a 25 mile radius of of Milwaukee (as far as Grafton to the North, Cudahy to the South and Delavan to the West).
Current pint of the month flavors are “2020 Christmas” (charcoal buttermint); Gingerbread Cookie Dough with cinnamon butter ice cream; and Orange and Clove.
“I’m working on rosemary pear champagne sherbet for New Year’s,” she says, noting that she’s playing around with butterfly pea flower powder (to make blue ice cream) and hopes to come up with a delicious Sriracha flavored ice cream as well. “I like creating things that are unexpectedly good.”
Casperson says she’s also currently refurbishing an ice cream cart so that she can launch pop-up events for Ruth’s Galley starting in the spring.
“And we’ll see where it goes from there,” she says. “I’ll scale up little by little and see where this takes me.”
To try Ruth Galley’s Craft Ice Cream (or purchase a gift card for an ice cream lover in your life), head to ruthgalleysicecream.com to sign up for the Pint of the Month Club. You can also follow Ruth Galley’s on Facebook and Instagram for new flavor alerts and updates.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.