Still time to scream
Cool off from August heat with purveyors of homemade ice cream
By Matt Kirouac and Christina Nyquist firstname.lastname@example.org
After weeks of the breezy 70s, we’ve finally had several days of uninterrupted summer.
And everyone knows scorching heat means one thing: ice cream.
Although New Englanders are known for enjoying their ice cream year ’round, summer is the season when companies all across the area crank out seasonal flavors to the eager public.
No summer memory of ice cream would be complete for a Manchester-area local without the Puritan. Located at 245 Hooksett Road on Manchester’s north side, the Puritan’s ice cream is what began its business way back in 1917 (first on Hanover Street; not until 1938 did the business move to D.W. Highway). To this day the Puritan follows its original ice cream recipes, producing a line of more than 30 flavors. Some new selections for summer include golden Oreo (French vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies), watermelon sherbet and strawberry cheesecake (cheesecake ice cream laced with graham cracker and bursting with fresh strawberries).
Blake’s is the New England chain born and bred in Manchester on South Main Street. This original location is where all Blake’s ice cream shops and restaurants get their frozen confections made. It all began in 1963, when the owners started using local dairy farm milk and cream to produce a 14-percent butterfat ice cream product. With more than 40 flavors to choose from, there is no shortage of scoops. Some of the refreshing summer options are chocolate cherry cordial, red raspberry revolution, lemon meringue pie, graham cracker central and the made-before-your-eyes blend that is Copacabana banana (French vanilla ice cream with banana slices, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs).
Many consider Cremeland to be a godfather in the world of summertime ice cream. An entirely seasonal operation, Cremeland offers flavors such as orange pineapple and strawberry peach. With the pink berry colors of the strawberry ice cream and the chunks of fresh peaches blended in, this is what seasonal ice cream should truly be made like. Ever since the establishment opened in 1947 under its original name of Mimi’s, Cremeland has been creating a house-made ice cream served in portions huge enough to satisfy any appetite.
If it is the back-woods dairy barn atmosphere you desire, then head right on over to Kimball’s Farm in Jaffrey. Originally from Massachusetts, the owners of this farm have been selling its ice cream for more than 50 years. There is a long list of flavors — banana, peach, chocolate mint Oreo, Pralines and cream. On the lighter side, Kimball’s offers a mean selection of sherbets and sorbets including lemon sherbet and strawberry sherbet. Key lime sorbet and Valencia orange sorbet also are low-calorie options.
A stone’s throw from Concord is another classic dairy farm making its own ice cream. Beech Hill Farm has an astounding list of more than 75 flavors. They also offer frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbets. True-blue blueberry is a phenomenal summer selection; it is packed with so much fruit it almost feels healthy. The farm also has a make-your-own sundae bar to tantalize any tastebud.
The folks at Arnie’s Place at 164 Loudon Road in Concord have been churning up their own ice cream on site since 1992. Molly Lanigan, daughter of owner Tom Arnold, said customer favorites include cookie dough, black raspberry chocolate chip and coffee Heath Bar. New and resurrected flavors this summer include a more peanut-buttery peanut butter cup, as well as blueberry and banana. Lanigan said the new peanut butter cup has been received warmly by the fans of the old peanut butter cup. According to Lanigan, homemade ice cream is worth the effort, because unlike certain brands, theirs is a fresh product containing no preservatives, and is served within a month of being made. Makers are able to see firsthand what goes into the ice cream they sell, and can choose better individual ingredients, which leads to a higher-quality ice cream. For more information on Arnie’s, visit www.arniesplace.com or call 228-3225.
While the soft-serve experts at King Kone at 336 D.W. Highway in Merrimack don’t make their ice cream entirely from scratch, they do whip up their own specialty flavors on site. Using a vanilla ice cream base delivered from Oakhurst Dairy, they create flavors such as peanut butter, mocha, strawberry, black raspberry, banana, cake batter, banana berry and strawberry. George Sofforn, who has worked at King Kone for six years, said their most popular flavors include vanilla and chocolate twist and coffee. New flavors include a different, more natural recipe for strawberry this summer, and strawberry shortcake and a chocolate peanut butter cup and peanut butter twist introduced at the end of last summer. Sofforn said their soft-serve is 95 percent fat-free. King Kone celebrated its 35th anniversary recently. For more information on King Kone, call 424-6848.
Bill Croteau and his wife Dawn opened the first and only New England chapter of Bruster’s Real Ice Cream at 621 Amherst St. in Nashua five years ago. Bruster’s is a franchise started in 1989 with more than 300 locations throughout the country, but Croteau’s ice cream is homemade on site nonetheless. He said some of Nashua’s favorite flavors include cake batter, white turtle, which is a vanilla ice cream with caramel and pecans, and chocolate raspberry truffle. This summer Bruster’s has introduced a new line of real fruit sorbets including strawberry, peach, black raspberry and pineapple. They are also offering a parfait made from their new sorbet mixed with soft vanilla ice cream.
While it is more costly for makers to manufacture their own wares, Croteau said that Bruster’s pumps less air per gallon and uses a higher butterfat content, which leads to a denser, richer, creamier and better-tasting ice cream that doesn’t melt the moment it’s scooped onto the cone. For more information on Bruster’s, visit www.brusters.com, or call 881-9595.
Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream is well into its third summer at its new location on Route 101A in Amherst. Roni Vetter bought the business four years ago from its previous owners in Milford, where it had been delighting customers with its homemade creations since 1989. Vetter has continued the tradition, however, and the ice cream, which boasts a higher butterfat content and lower air content than mass-produced ice cream, giving you more ice cream per scoop, continues to be made on site and sold year ’round. Vetter says customer favorites include Huckleberry, which is a black raspberry with dark chocolate chunks, Birthday Cake, which has marble cake and rainbow sprinkles mixed in, and Mount Marshmallow, which is a chocolate ice cream with a marshmallow swirl that rather resembles a ski slope. She says Jake’s changes its selection of flavors often, and features seasonal specialties. Peanut butter is a recurrent presence, while Oatmeal Chocolate Chip makes an appearance in the fall. Currently, customers can look forward to the fact that peach season is approaching in New Hampshire. Jake’s also recently introduced “Vermont,” a dark chocolate ice cream with white chocolate shavings, in opposition to the popular “Granite State,” a vanilla chocolate chip ice cream. The two are displayed next to each other in the viewing case, which gives new meaning to the joke that Vermont and New Hampshire have been “spooning” since 1791. Vetter says Jake’s ice cream parlor format makes it more personable; the folks there get to know customers — their favorite flavors, their likes and dislikes — and often get suggestions for new flavors. For more information on Jake’s, visit www.jakesoldfashionedicecream.com, or call 594-2424.
Van Otis Chocolates, 341 Elm St. in Manchester, serves its own homemade gelato and sorbetto at its café. There are nearly two dozen gelato flavors in rotation including amaretto, caramellatte, cinnamon, almond and honey, white mint and espresso. The company makes some 19 sorbettos flavors (sorbet is juice-based rather than milk- or cream-based), including blackberry, kiwi, limoncello (the popular Italian lemon liqueur), wild strawberry and pink grapefruit. In addition to its wholesale business to ice cream shops and eateries, the Van Otis Café serves seven of its gelato and sorbet flavors. Since the display case can only fit seven trays and new trays are finished all the time, the flavors are constantly changing. On a recent trip, the flavors were mango and raspberry sorbet and peanut butter, cheesecake, green tea, mint oreo chip and vanilla gelato. The gelatos (which are made with milk rather than the cream that is the base for ice cream) had a rich creamy mouth feel and an intense flavor. The sorbets are also surprisingly creamy (rather than icy, as some store-bought sorbets are) and have an almost fluffy consistency and deep, rich flavors. For more information on Van Otis, visit www.vanotis.com, or call 627-1611.