Cornish Ice Cream – A Reminder of Childhood

Cornish Ice Cream

Who doesn’t love ice cream?  I know I’m biased, but surely Cornish ice cream is amongst the best in the world.  So, let’s discover if my bold statement is true!

It’s a beautiful day here in Cornwall.  The sun is shining and spring is in the air.   Although it is only mid March, our thoughts turn to summer. 

With daffodils nodding in the breeze, we are dreaming of holidays.  This year more than ever, we are eagerly anticipating the time we can relax on holiday and enjoy the freedoms we have given up over the past year.

One of them is eating ice cream whilst sitting in the sun!

What a luxury to indulge in.  Simple pleasures, satisfying thoughts.

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

ice cream in the sun

As might be suggested by Cornish Ice Cream, one of the key ingredients in our brands, is the inclusion of clotted cream.  

Most people will connect clotted cream with a Cornish Cream Tea.  Moreover, there’s nothing better than a large dollop of thick, golden cream on top of fruity jam spread over freshly baked scones.

However, add clotted cream to the basic elements for ice cream and you suddenly have the makings of a very fine dessert indeed.

Many of our ice cream producers use a base recipe of either French or Italian origins. The recipes are custard-based with a generous proportion of eggs to sugar and fat ratios. Not only do these methods yield a smooth, creamy texture all on their own, but the addition of clotted cream increases the flavour exponentially.

Childhood Memories

Harts Ice Cream parlour
Hart’s Ice Cream Parlour, The Wharf, St Ives

One of my earliest memories of ice cream has to be from Hart’s in St Ives.  The iconic wall in front of the parlour on The Wharf, still there today, cements recollections of childhood treats.  Their banana splits were legendary.  

It wasn’t something we did very often, so the rich flavour of this creamy mixture stands out in my mind.

However, this much-missed shop has long gone and with it the recipe for their beautiful ice cream.  What has not gone, though, is the passion for using local ingredients to produce a superior product.  This theme is repeated throughout our ice cream makers to this day.

The Oldest and Most Famous?

Kelly's of Bodmin ice cream van
Kelly’s of Bodmin

Kelly’s is possibly the oldest manufacturer of Cornish ice cream.  Based in Bodmin, they are instantly recognisable throughout the county by their traditional yellow, red, and orange vans.  You will see the vans at beaches, beauty spots and events, delivering the perfect antidote to a hot day. The van above is one of their vintage vans – iconic.

Having been in business since the late 1800’s when Joseph Staffieri relocated from Italy, their ice cream tubs can be found in many supermarkets throughout the country.  At least you can grab a small piece of Cornwall even when unable to travel down to the South West.

The Legend of Moomaid of Zennor

strawberry ice cream

Moomaid of Zennor has also incorporated a little Italian know-how and blended it with Cornish heritage for their range of ices.  Four generations of family have milked Frisian cows at their farm perched on the cliffside at Zennor, along the coast road out of St Ives.

It wasn’t until 2006 that they diversified into ice cream making, though.

The farm is the most westerly in Cornwall producing ice cream.  Together with a sprinkling of legend, their ice cream range now tops 39 flavours.  

Traditional Jelbert’s of Newlyn

old fashioned milk churns

It is a different type of legend that keeps people returning to sample Jelbert’s ice cream.  Approaching the fishing village of Newlyn, you could be forgiven for overlooking the tiny shop tucked in on the right hand side.

Apart, that is, from the queue outside.  

The shop looks as if it may well have been swept up along with Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz, as it harks back to a time long forgotten.  The legend here is Jim, the owner.  Jim’s grandmother used to make the ice cream each day during the summer season, selling it from a small kiosk on the corner of Paul Hill.

Returning from the Second World War, Jim’s uncle took over the business.  Moving the shop across the road to its present premises, the ice cream lost none of its intensity or originality.  

It is possibly the closest you will get to home-made anywhere in Cornwall. 

Due to the nature of the traditional processes and high quality ingredients, there is only enough ice cream made on each day to satisfy demand.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone!   Hence the queue.

Unlike many other producers, Jelbert’s ice cream only comes in one flavour – vanilla.  Changing up your options include the addition of clotted cream and a chocolate flake. 

But their recipe is a hit that keeps us all coming back for more.  For me, it is reminiscent of my childhood.  The dense richness and flavour of a bygone era, perfectly presented today.

Star of the Show Roskilly’s Cows

Jersey cow

Travelling eastwards along the coast from Newlyn, we head towards The Lizard.  Passing through the most southerly point in the British Isles, we reach the home of Roskilly Jersey cows.

Tucked into the shelter between St Keverne and Coverack, with pastures stretching down to the sea, the farm is a hive of activity.

Jersey’s are well-known for the richness of their milk.  So it is no surprise these pretty cows produce some of the best cream in Cornwall.  

Once again, Roskilly’s use their own clotted cream in their recipe, as well as their milk.  Grazed on pastures farmed in a traditional manner, it’s easy to taste the freshness.

My favourite has to be the organic chocolate.  However, I love the fact that Roskilly’s make most of their flavourings themselves; at least all the sticky, nutty, chewy, crunchy and saucy bits!

And what better way to have a Cornish Cream Tea than in a waffle cone?  Strawberries and clotted cream blended with love.  The perfect way to cool down on a hot, summer’s day.

One More Ice Cream Scoop – Innovation at it’s Finest

ice cream cones

My journey around the ice cream producers of Cornwall would not be complete without a mention of Callestick.  Based close to Healey’s cider farm, this family run enterprise encapsulates the heart of Cornish produce.

Unless you are tasting their Levi Roots range of Caribbean inspired flavours.  Yes, even Mango & Hot Chilli Sorbet!  

What could be better? A blend of Cornwall and the Caribbean. Now that’s what I call standing out from the crowd.

I would love to hear your stories and what your favourites are in the comments below.  Or why not join the conversation on Facebook.

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