Contributed by Fair Food member Andrew Satinsky of Weckerly's Ice Cream
In preparing to write this piece I asked for some advice from the folks at Fair Food. With a few simple words of direction from Emily Kohlhas came an opportunity to explore the essence of our product and reflect on the relationships that are continuing to grow out of making small batch ice cream. She said, "focus on how you integrate local ingredients into your products." I thought about how local dairy and produce are at the core of every batch we make. It struck me that we have to exercise the most consideration with imported ingredients like sugar, cocoa, and vanilla, adding these items with care so as not to overpower the wonderful-and often subtle- flavors from our local farms.
Weckerly's Ice Cream was born out of my partner Jen's experience as a pastry chef. Creating desserts for ever-changing seasonal menus, she always felt a great affinity for ice cream. Few other desserts allowed her to focus on building an experience around the flavor of one or two perfect ingredients.
Every step of creating an ice cream flavor starts with one ingredient. In the beginning that ingredient was cream. As we experimented with ice cream mixes and commercially abundant dairy there was something missing in our base. The plain ice cream lacked a depth of flavor that would be an important building block. In discussing our sourcing with Fair Food Director Ann Karlen she suggested that we try Seven Stars' organic grass-fed cream from Phoenixville. At first taste we knew we had found the missing piece. From there the process was simplified. The other base ingredients-sugar, eggs, and salt-were integrated to accent the unique qualities of the milk and cream.
This approach carries through to every flavor. From spring to early winter the ingredients that inspire each flavor come from local harvests. Heirloom cranberries from Paradise Hill are framed by caramelized white chocolate, and lavender's herbal sweetness is complimented by raw wildflower honey. Our responsibility in crafting the ice cream is to allow each ingredient room to work its magic.
The guidance and advice provided by Fair Food has been invaluable to a small operation that pours a great deal of time into production. Making the connection between producers and the best local farm sources completes an important link in the chain. As our company grows, that resource extends to helping create lasting relationships throughout the supply chain. When we came looking for more information about small-scale dairy production, Product Manager Alex Jones introduced us to some of Chester County's farmstead cheese makers. This network has a thorough understanding of what goes into producing great quality milk, and through this relationship we can grow with dairy from pastured cows that live happy, healthy lives.
Weckerly's Ice Cream produces small batch French-style ice cream with local and organic products in West Philadelphia. Find their seasonal specialties in the freezer case at the Fair Food Farmstand or consider pre-ordering your favorite flavors for pick up or delivery through their Pint of the Week program!
Photos courtesy of Ted Nghiem.