July is a fitting month for National Ice Cream Month—there’s no better way to refresh yourself in the heat and humidity than with a delicious dairy treat. All ice cream aficionados from the amateur ice cream lover to the pro taster know that the best ice cream is handmade in small batches with fresh ingredients to create creamy textures and delicious flavors, and in the Berks County area of Pennsylvania, there’s no shortage of local shops and creameries churning up their own takes on this classic treat.
BAD Farm in Kempton, PA is one of those places, and despite the name, they’re local experts on some of the best ice cream around. Here’s what they have to say on ice cream and local dairy, along with some of the best places to get small batch ice cream in the area!
Cow to Cone
When you can clearly follow the path that the ingredients in your food took to reach you, you’re almost guaranteed to be getting a delicious, high-quality dish, and ice cream is no exception. Many of the sweetest, creamiest, and tastiest ice creams out there are from creameries that make it themselves from their very own milk. “We offer a variety of products that are all raised and produced on our farm,” said Kacey, a member of the family team at BAD Farm. “Today we farm around 600 acres of cropland, milk about 50 Holstein cows and raise our own replacement heifers.”
The ice cream and other offerings at BAD Farm are handmade on site, similarly to The Great American Creamery, which has a location in Reading, PA and can also be found at public and private events all over the area. Lucine Sehelnik, the owner of this micro-creamery, also has a passion for cow to cone models, and you can rely on the GAC to provide some of the best ice cream around!
Getting mass-produced ice cream often means that apart from the occasional holiday-themed flavor, you miss out on the unique seasonality that this treat can offer. Getting local ice cream, however, keeps things fresh and interesting by letting you get a taste of what’s flourishing in your area right now! “We switch out some flavors seasonally,” said Kacey. “We currently are offering our Blueberry Blast and Peaches and Cream, but will switch those out for Apple Pie come the fall.”
Another local ice cream spot that understands the importance of seasonality is Plum Creek Farm Market and Creamery, where the menu of rotating hand-scooped ice cream flavors is packed with options like Eggnog, Pumpkin Pecan Pie, Peppermint Brownie Blast, S’mores, and Blueberry Cheesecake that allow you to appreciate what’s in season in Bernville, PA!
The importance of shopping local isn’t only about supporting your community and the people and businesses there. It’s also about the quality that comes from small businesses who focus on detail! “Buying local to us is about knowing where your food is coming from,” said Kacey from BAD Farm. “With our farm, when customers stop at the store they can see the animals, they can see us harvesting or working on equipment and can get a glimpse at what it takes to produce our milk, meat, and eggs.
“Buying local also means our customers get to know us, whether it is at the farmers markets with Beth and Dave or when they are at the farm and we stop to talk with them while we are restocking the store or feeding our calves. This builds a relationship and a trust in where their food is coming from and how it is being produced.”
Local loyalty is also important to the team at Candy’s Homemade Ice Cream in Shoemakersville, PA, where they promote the closeness of a tight-knit community and serve up delicious and unique ice cream offerings, including tasting flights of multiple flavors that come with waffle cone chips!
Fresh Farmers Markets
Small-batch dairy products from local creameries and farmers markets go hand in hand, and there’s no better place to find fresh, high-quality food than the farmers market right in your own area. The team at BAD Farm knows how important it is to have a presence at local markets. They attend two on a weekly basis– one in Lehighton on Saturdays and one in Emmaus on Sundays.
Another great local market to get delicious ice cream at is the Way Har Farm Market in Bernville, PA. Here you can find handcrafted frozen treats like sherbets, ice cream nachos, and more, plus fresh milk, bakery products, and deli sandwiches and subs!
With so many great local creameries and markets to try out, you can spend not only National Ice Cream Month but the entire summer tasting new flavors and finding new favorites! This short list is just a start: make sure to check out the Berks County Ice Cream Trail for more inspiration!