In 1984, then-president Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation making July National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday of July as the official “National Ice Cream Day”. That means this Sunday is THE day, fellow ice cream lovers!
The average American consumes 22 pounds of ice cream annually. (Since I consider myself to be above average, this is considerably more in my home.) We have been forced to venture into alternative arenas, since half of our family have dairy-free restrictions, but we almost always have ice cream on hand.
As the kids were growing up, we often made ice cream by hand at home, and have experimented with dairy-free versions, multi-flavored versions and different bases. I can tell you from experience that a quality ice cream is not only a challenge, but it’s costly and hard work.
These days, unless I need something very specific for a recipe, I prefer to purchase my ice cream locally. I’ve become a connoisseur of sorts and will often try new products with some trepidation (I’m pretty picky – it drives my family nuts). We had one such occasion at the Bangor Home Show a couple of years ago. On the way out of the auditorium, there was a gentleman hanging out around a large cooler with the Stone Fox Farm
Creamery logo. I looked at my better half, and he chuckled, knowing I wouldn’t be swayed until I had tasted the ice cream. While I was skeptical, I was truly blown away by the creaminess and flavor of the coconut ice cream. It wasn’t the fake, metallic, suntan-lotion-tasting flavor I was expecting. Instead, it was unbelievably creamy and rich (but not heavy), and had a genuine, luscious coconut flavor. Not overly sweet either – there was definitely no corn syrup in this mix. Natural flavors, and natural ingredients, just the way I like it – a great tasting ice cream.
Fast forward a couple of years to when I was researching local businesses, and Bruce & Kathy Chamberlain came to mind in the form of a pleasant memory of creamy coconut ice cream. This week, I met with the owners of Stone Fox Farm Creamery in pastoral Monroe, Maine. We chatted about their products and business, and how they decided to become ‘Glaciers’ (frozen dessert chefs).
If you’ve followed this column at all, you know I am a huge advocate of shopping and sourcing locally whenever possible. The Chamberlains subscribe to this same philosophy, and acquire local products seasonally, as often as possible. Their goal is to make ice cream they like, without compromising on the quality they would expect themselves.
Their milk and cream are purchased from local farmers, very close to their own farm. You can’t get any fresher than that! Seasonal fruits come from friends and farmers with properties nearby as well. The only items that are purchased from outside Maine are the ones that are not available locally or where it’s simply not cost effective.
In addition, to local, fresh core ingredients, the batches of ice cream are made quickly after the ingredients are received, making the ice cream that comes out of Stone Fox Farm Creamery some of the freshest and richest in flavor.
Bruce had grown up with ice cream socials at his house, since his father was an employee of Sealtest Dairy ‘back in the day’. One of their main product lines was ice cream, and very often the family would have huge get-togethers where ice cream was the focal point.
As Bruce got older, he began testing his own recipes on his growing family, using the same small, hand-operated machine that most of us have used at one time or another. With Kathy’s help, his dream began to develop and take shape.
Stone Fox Farm Creamery got its name from the unique history of their own neighborhood. Way back in the day, there used to be a fox farm (for pelts) up the road from their homestead. Rumor has it, during a storm some of the many-colored foxes escaped to the woods. Kathy already had an affinity for them, and when her sister-in-law brought a stone version by as a gift, they figured it was meant to be.
Bruce and Kathy worked with Eastern Maine Development Corporation, the University of Maine and many other resources (including family) to bring their dream to fruition. They started with one truck and have since expanded. They still do some of the deliveries themselves, while others are through a distributor. They have plans to expand their operation even further, allowing for greater production, storage and distribution throughout the entire state.
This weekend, if you want to celebrate National Ice Cream Day or Month in style, Stone Fox Farm Creamery will be at the Maine Celtic Celebration in Belfast, along the waterfront. You NEED to try this ice cream, trust me – it’s seriously some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. (I’ll be over at the field watching the Better Half participate in the Heavy Games – come by and say hello!)
In addition, Stone Fox Farm Creamery participates in numerous farmer’s markets, fairs and other events throughout the state, as well as being available at fine vendors up and down the coast of Maine.
For more information on events, shopping or rental of their mobile services for your event, please visit their website at www.stonefoxfarmcreamery.com .