Some ice cream places are just outright cold. They claim to sell homemade ice cream, but don’t bother to tell you that it’s shipped in from somewhere else.
Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, many factories turn out good to excellent ice cream to ship to ice cream stores and stands throughout New England. Some local ice cream stands that rank among the best in New England do not make their ice cream on-site.
The ice cream places that go the extra mile, however, by making their own homemade ice cream on the premises almost always turn out a superior product.
An ice cream business that creates super-premium ice cream with 16 percent butterfat and either sources locally or from high-quality vendors clearly benefits the customer most. Additionally, the ice cream creator has to know what to do with the ingredients. Usually, that involves curing the ice cream for many hours, putting into a holding freezer to make the ice cream more “scoopable,” and selling the ice cream in a fairly quick amount of time to keep that freshness intact.
Fortunately, most ice cream places that make homemade ice cream on the premises don’t have to worry about their ice cream not selling. People usually come in crowds to these type of places.
I know of many ice cream parlors and stands that actually make their ice cream on the premises and thought I’d share a few with you. Check back in often as I will be updating this page with more ice cream destinations that do it the right way!
Hayward’s Ice Cream, Nashua, N.H.
Hayward’s Ice Cream owner Chris Ordway proves that coming from an ice cream family and possessing strong work ethic can do wonders for creating some of the best ice cream in New England. Ordway, a third-generation Hayward grandson of the family that started the ice cream stand in 1940, always tries to make traditionally great ice cream even better.
Unlike many other ice cream places, he just doesn’t throw all the ingredients together. He realizes there are an art and science to ice cream making. That means a crucial multi-step approach to combining ensuring proper ice cream temperatures to avoid freezer burn and achieve full flavor.
“They’ll make ice cream and throw it right into the dipping freezer,” said Ordway, 48. “There has to be multiple stages of freezing at the right temperatures. If the ice cream is at the wrong temperature, you will see ice crystals or a product that doesn’t taste as good as it should. With sorbet, if it is too cold, it will numb the taste buds. Too much citric acid and cold temperatures can result in a taste that feels like it is burning the tongue. It’s not just about making it fresh. The process has to be exactly right.”
Now all this wouldn’t mean a thing if the ice cream tasted horrible. On the contrary, Ordway backs up his painstaking ice cream production methods with the freshest tasting ice cream. It’s also better tasting than many years ago, which is noteworthy given all the delicious ice cream created here through the generations. Read the full story on Hayward’s
Mystic Sweets, Mystic, Conn.
Mystic Sweets owner Rita Lara is a genius at creating fine chocolates — the best seller in her wonderful little shop — but she has this deft skill at making delicious ice cream right on the premises. She makes the ice cream with local Connecticut dairy, uses premium toppings including fruit and has the know-how to create true-to-form, accurate-tasting flavors.
While Mystic Sweets might not be known primarily as an ice cream shop, this sweet store often surpasses the best businesses that only sell ice cream. Read the full story on Mystic Sweets
Schoolhouse Ice Cream, Burlington, Mass.
Rob and Betty Stanley had quite the learning curve when open Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Burlington, Mass., more than 15 years ago. Rob worked in the construction industry and Betty in banking. Both were looking for new, meaningful careers, however, so they decided to open Schoolhouse Ice Cream. It made sense: Rob’s mom, Sue and stepfather Jack, found tremendous success with their original Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Harwich, Mass. Rob and Betty worked tirelessly through trial and error to quickly achieve hall of fame homemade ice cream making status.
The locals have responded with up to 25-minute waits and lines forming outside the door during peak season. The ice cream parlor is a delightful place to enjoy a cone, too. Kids can write on a blackboard and watch movies on the TV in a colorful place that also features a huge gumball machine and cozy red booths. Read the full story on Schoolhouse Ice Cream
Gray’s Ice Cream, Tiverton, R.I.
Gray’s, in business since 1923, seems like part of the quintessential New England landscape. Located in an area that beautifully combines the coast and farms, Gray’s is like a rite of passage into a Rhode Island summer. Sitting on the stone wall while eating ice cream and watching the cows graze is the type of experience that creates those special New England summer memories.
Yankee Magazine once named Gray’s as one of the “Top 10 Spots to Visit in New England,” as well as in its “New England Favorite Spots to Visit” article.
The homemade ice cream is, fortunately, just as special as the surroundings. I highly recommend the pistachio, coffee, blueberry, cherry vanilla, strawberry cheesecake and butterscotch. Good news, too: Gray’s is open year-round, knowing that New Englanders love their ice cream even on the coldest winter days. Read the full story on Gray’s
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, Waterbury, Vt.
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour is one of the most obvious ice cream places when it comes to making its own ice cream on-site. It’s a factory; therefore, they make ice cream there!
Ben and Jerry’s is known for making some of the best ice cream available at the supermarket, but even better is its factory experience in Vermont. Yes, you do get a guided tour and free ice cream sample here (although there is a nominal admission charge), but better yet, order something at the ice cream stand window. This is where you can experience the true genius of Ben and Jerry’s flavors.
The flavors taste so much more fresh than what you’d buy at the market. Plus, you get to enjoy a cone in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont! Whatever Ben and Jerry’s flavor you love at home tastes that much better at the factory ice cream stand. More info on the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory tour
Four Seas, Centerville (Cape Cod), Mass.
A long-time Cape Cod tradition, the seasonal Four Seas stands as one of the oldest ice cream places in Massachusetts dating back to 1934. They have always made ice cream on the premises with some innovative flavors over the years. Some examples of offbeat flavors: lemon crisp, cantaloupe and fresh peach. Additionally, if you like the more traditional, no worries: Four Seas does a fabulous job with old standbys like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry (made with fresh local strawberries in June). In addition, they make fabulous sundaes, root beer floats and frappes. Four Seas also does a nice job with its sandwich selection including ham and cheese and lobster salad. Four Seas is so good, I would often prefer it than going to the beach! That’s saying a lot, given Cape Cod offers some of the best beaches in New England! Read the full story on Four Seas Ice Cream
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