Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 14, 2013

Scoops of summer

Enjoy national ice cream month with a cool treat

by JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BURKE‚ÄôS GARDEN, Va. —  Mattie Schlabach, an Amish resident from Burke’s Garden, Va., knows the difference between homemade and store-bought ice cream. Her first taste —homemade, of course — was when she was a child, “just knee high to a grasshopper,” she said.

“We always had homemade ice cream growing up,” Schlabach added.

Owner of the Burke’s Garden Country Store since April 1, Schlabach, along with her husband David, are giving residents and tourists a taste of summertime.

“We make chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and peach,” she said.

The fruit-based flavors depend on the growing seasons.

This summer, the Schlabachs have been bringing their homemade treats to local fairs and festivals, including the Fiddlers’ Convention, Cedar Bluff Heritage Festival and the annual Varmint race in Burke’s Garden.

When folks try their ice cream, Schlabach sees all kinds of different expressions.

“They just say it is so good,” she said.

Her favorite ice cream at home is butter pecan; the family will also add toppings and fruits to vanilla. They enjoy the treat all the time, but in the summer, its extra special.

“I think summertime is just ice cream time,” she said. “July is just hot. We like it year round, but the summertime has always been an ice cream time.”

The Schlabachs use a 1940s hit and miss John Deere tractor; the engine runs the ice cream freezer, which makes about five gallons of ice cream. In a wooden bucket, it takes 15 minutes to freeze the dessert. In a plastic bucket, it can take up to 30 minutes. After the first batch, it takes about 10 minutes.

They hope to begin offering ice cream at the store, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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July is national ice cream month in America. The celebration started in 1984. According to the International Dairy Food Association, 90 percent of the U.S. population enjoys ice cream every year and the average American eats 48 pints a year. But ice cream wasn’t always accessible until the 1800s and more modern inventions started to develop in the food industry. By the 1940s, ice cream was a consistent treat in the U.S., and could be found in stores and shops.  

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com.