Egg custard (the base of all ice cream flavors) is pasteurized in a 260-gallon vat, then placed in two 500-gallon holding tanks. As this plain dairy mix is piped into two 350-gallon flavor vats, natural ingredients like raspberry, strawberries, and coffee are added depending on the type of ice cream being made.
The combined flavor and cream are emptied into two-gallon buckets by hand. Workers pour those buckets into 16 stainless steel French Pots (one bucket per pot) in the Bond Hill production facility.
The pots, made locally by Woodlawn-based Pak/Teem, are then spun in a saltwater brine chilled to -14 degrees Fahrenheit. Graeter’s makes one flavor at a time, with all French Pots dedicated to that flavor.
As the pot spins, cream freezes to the side. A blade scrapes the frozen cream back into the middle, preventing air from being whipped into the cream.
After 15–20 minutes, the “inclusions”—those tasty bits like Oreos, cookie dough, and chocolate—are added to the cream and allowed to cool. The pot then begins spinning again to break up the inclusions. This generates Graeter’s signature chocolate “chips” (which tend to be more like chocolate slabs).
The ice cream is scooped by hand into pint containers and placed on an assembly line where they’re automatically capped, shrink wrapped, and placed onto pallets for distribution. Graeter’s makes about 3,200 gallons (or 25,600 pints) a day.