Fill Up on Locally-Made Walpole Creamery Ice Cream
From cow to cone – a look at New Hampshire's noteworthy ice cream options
Each week brings a special new sundae offering at Walpole Creamery with two or three scoops of ice cream set in a house-made waffle dish.
In a world filled with chemical additives and over-engineered food, it’s nice to find a simple blend of ingredients that is so pleasing. Walpole Creamery in Walpole takes in milk from local cows and pumps out about 5,000 to 9,000 pints of naturally flavored ice cream labeled as super premium. It earns that category with a butterfat content of about 16 percent for a rich, smooth and very satisfying taste.
One could consider the two most important parts of ice cream-making the quality of the base mix and the pedigree of the flavorings. Most ice cream scoop shops that claim “home-made” ice cream buy a pre-made base mix and add packaged flavorings or flavoring concentrates from a large manufacturer. Freshness is an important factor — it’s nice that the product is “made” on site, but mixes are packaged somewhere else and usually sweetened with corn syrup and maybe a few unsavory stabilizers.
At Walpole Creamery, they not only make their own base mix, they pasteurize and homogenize the raw milk straight from Elm Island Farm down the road. “We are really a milk processing plant,” says Bobby Dorman, president and production manager. “We pasteurize at the lowest and slowest level possible. Ultra pasteurization — those boxes of milk on the shelf or creamers — are processed at a high temp, 170 degrees, for a short time, but everything good has got to be gone,” he adds.
I questioned the fact that Elm Island only has 37 Holstein cows. Eric Landfried, director of delivery, replied, “Their milk can make a lot of ice cream.” Let's see — 37 times 6 (gallons each day for each cow) times 7 (they work every day) equals 1,554 gallons a week. A gallon of milk would be eight pints, so that would equal 12,332 pints. Since ice cream is only about half milk (the rest is cream from Hatchland Dairy, powdered milk and cane sugar) that would be 24,664 pints. More than enough, so whew, there is room for growth.
After chilling overnight, the base is run through batch mixers where the flavorings are added. One of Walpole Creamery’s premier flavors is the Sweet Cream. It’s just the beauty of the base — the freshness of the mix. Nothing more is added.
Line up at the window or eat inside at the scoop shop in front of the production facility.
The creamery ships 17 standard flavors, but the chocolate is outstanding. The cocoa is added right to the hot base mix so it melts before the batch cools. Dorman says, “It smells like Switzerland in here when we are making the chocolate.” Ginger is Landfried’s favorite and he is working on marketing it to Asian restaurants. Pumpkin spice and a few others are added seasonally.
Dorman is constantly experimenting with new flavors. Tastes in the pipeline include lemongrass, vanilla honey almond, and cinnamon and pepper for the bite of a Fireball candy.
Special flavors, like strawberry-lemon, are available only at the scoop shop at the production facility in a ’50s-style strip mall on Rte. 12 in Walpole. Look for the sundae of the week. A past favorite was a scoop or two of strawberry-lemon ice cream atop a lemon square topped with warm lemon sauce. Sorbets, packed with the fruitiness of mango or lemon, are served in dishes, house-made waffle cones or added to Squamscot soda for a drinkable Freeze.
Two years ago Dorman went to ice cream school — how painful could that be? Pennsylvania State offers Ice Cream 101, an intense weekend attended by ice cream makers from around the world. “I learned everything from milk to nuts to cow to cone and getting the product delivered. It’s not that easy to produce an all-natural product on a large scale. The peanut butter flavoring sold to scoop shops is pretty good,” says Dorman, “but it’s not all-natural. They add ingredients to smooth it out when it’s frozen. I’m working on perfecting one with just all-natural peanut butter.”
What makes an ice cream “all-natural?” Dorman says, “A lot of work. It’s much easier to use pre-made flavoring products. We make sure cookies, or anything else we add, are a natural product without preservatives or additional chemicals. Our vanilla extract is one of the best in the world.”
Rob Kasper, left, and Bobby Dorman are the working owners of Walpole Creamery.
Would Dorman ever make the step to organic? “With so many ingredients involved, it is hard to concoct an all-organic product,” he says. “It would be a different animal … and a big step.”
The creamery has only a handful of other employees. Cartons are hand-filled and labels are applied by hand too. “We consider ourselves to be like Ben & Jerry back in the ’70s,” says Dorman. Now owned by Unilever, that ice cream giant sells most of their product to China and Europe.
The production process at Walpole Creamery is fairly unique. The problem for most local ice cream makers is lack of milk supply. According to Landfried, milk distributors want a farm’s entire production, leaving none to sell to a small account. Landfried actually bought the business from Tom Beaudry via a listing he saw on Craigslist. Beaudry, owner of Elm Island Farm, is able to still supply Walpole Creamery for a truly local product.
The operation has had several shifts in financial partners and ice cream makers over the past six years. Dave Westover, a former partner, opened his own outlet two years ago, calling it The Walpole Scoop Shop. Dare to compare? Frankly, with super premium ice cream, satisfaction comes pretty quickly and round two can be unnecessary.
In season, Walpole Creamery expands to Keene with their ice cream truck parked at the Monadnock Food Co-op. Both are open 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Pints are available at fine food outlets across the state.
Noteworthy Local Ice Cream
The Mill Fudge Factory & Ice Cream Café Bristol
Small-batch ice cream is made totally from scratch. The hot fudge sauce is their own Mill Fudge Factory chocolate fudge simply melted.
The Sandwich Creamery Sandwich
Farmstead cheese-maker also makes ice cream from scratch and sells pints at the farm. Unusual flavors include Birch Bark, Cranberry and Lemon Squeeze.
It's scooped at K&L Candy Boutique in Weirs Beach and available by the pint at a variety of locations.
Annabelle's Natural Ice Cream Portsmouth
Super-premium ice cream with natural ingredients and 16.5 percent butterfat
The original shop is on Ceres Street, but their ice cream is also scooped at Arctic Dreams in New London and Frank Jones Restaurant & Pub in Barrington.
Granite State Candy Shoppe Concord and Manchester
Both the Concord Shop at 13 Warren St. and the Manchester Shop at 832 Elm St. scoop their own ice cream made from Contoocook Creamery milk.
Morano Gelato West Lebanon and Hanover
Not officially ice cream because it is made from milk, but the process makes it creamy and delicious. They use imported Italian ingredients and local fruit in season. Each bite is packed with flavor and there are 14 of them every day.
Want even more? Check out our local ice cream shop listings for the entire state!