J.P. Licks launches vegan ice cream

Will use soy, coconut and hemp

CENTRAL JP—J.P. Licks is launching a menu of vegan ice cream made with non-diary products—including soy, coconut and hemp.

Vince Petryk, owner and founder of the Jamaica Plain-based sweets-and-coffee chain, says the new offerings pass a previously impossible test for non-dairy ice cream: “I’d eat them.”

“We’ve worked on these intermittently for 25 years,” said Petryk, recalling the soy-based Tofutti ice cream fad of the 1980s. Or, as he calls it, “the original non-dairy crap stuff.”

Petryk set up a new test kitchen in the J.P. Licks headquarters at 659 Centre St. to concoct the vegan recipes and make sure they are yummy enough to pass his personal taste test.

The line launches this month with coconut-based ice cream in the flavors of chocolate coconut, pineapple coconut and “coconut almond lace.” All J.P. Licks locations will offer a free sampling on March 6, 3-6 p.m.

The hemp-based line follows in April, and soy-based in June.

All of the ice creams will be non-diary, gluten-free, vegan, kosher-certified and sweetened with brown rice and agave syrups.

Petryk said the vegan line is intended for customers who can’t eat dairy products or choose not to for various social and ethical reasons. The hemp line is particularly attention-getting, as the plant is the virtually drug-free cousin of the marijuana plant.

Petryk said that some J.P. Licks customers already claim to get a buzz off of ice cream flavors that contain tiny amounts of alcohol.

“I’m sure there will be some people who swear we’re using THC seeds” in the hemp ice cream, he said, referring to the drug in marijuana.

The vegan ice creams won’t have identical flavors as the dairy lines, because each base has its own distinctive flavor. Hemp has “almost a sort of green tea flavor,” while soy is “nutty,” Petryk said. And coconut is, well, coconut.

“We try to design flavors to play with rather than battling against the flavor of each of the bases,” he said.

Another ingredient customers won’t taste is elbow grease. The vegan line is being made entirely from scratch in the JP store, unlike the dairy ice cream, whose base comes from a friend’s farm.

J.P. Licks is celebrating its 30th year in business. It now has 10 locations in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Dedham, Newton, Somerville and Wellesley. For more information, see jplicks.com.

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