Surrey ice cream - St Joan's Farm, near Reigate
PUBLISHED: 13:14 20 October 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 20 February 2013
If you want to make the most of the late English summer sunshine, you could do no better than to try some of the fresh dairy ice cream produced at St Joan's Farm, in Leigh, where you'll find some of the friendliest, most laid back cows you could e...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine 2007
If you want to make the most of the late English summer sunshine, you could do no better than to try some of the fresh dairy ice cream produced at St Joan's Farm, in Leigh, where you'll find some of the friendliest, most laid back cows you could ever hope to meet...
By Jane Garrett
Granted, it hasn't been the best of summers - well, okay, if we're honest, it's been one of the worst on record - which is all the more reason to make the most of the last few warm days before autumn takes hold.
When it comes to summer foods, one of the great treats at this time of year is tucking into an ice cream - and here in Surrey we have our very own home-made brand produced at St Joan's Farm in Leigh.
Caroline Davies has been making ice cream on the farm now for four years, winning the Surrey Business Link Farm Business Award in 2004 - and demand has been growing and growing. Not surprising when you consider that you simply cannot get a fresher ice cream - from cow to freezer in under an hour!
She invested in their Italian ice cream making machine in order to give the family farm an extra income stream, and to enable her brother to carry on the farming tradition. "It has made a substantial difference," says Caroline. "The bank manager is happy because he can see we are doing something positive - it helps the wheels go round. We can go out and buy machinery and it has given my brother a future on the farm.
"I am using 1,000 litres of milk a month at the moment, and each year, I seem to double the amount of ice cream I make. The milk is still warm when we make it, which is better because the fats are still suspended in the milk. We separate the cream here as well so we have lots of happy calves getting fed on skimmed milk.
"Ice cream can be made from almost anything but the most common ingredient is vegetable oil; yuk! That's why by law it's called 'ice cream' not 'dairy ice cream'.
"Here at St Joan's Farm, we add a blend of sugars and other natural ingredients to produce hand-made Italian artisan-style ice cream. We ensure that anything we use is of a natural origin, free of artificial colours and use flavours such as whole cocoa paste and whole strawberries in a natural syrup, which is why our strawberry ice cream isn't an unnatural bright pink."
The farm's herd of 65 black and white Friesians grazing the meadows beneath the North Downs at Leigh are some of the friendliest and most relaxed you could ever hope to meet. Recently joined by three biscuit coloured, doe-eyed Guernseys, with an equally gentle nature, these particular girls will be helping to make the St Joan's ice cream even creamier.
One of the reasons St. Joan's Farm cows are so relaxed is that they are milked on demand in a state-of-the-art automated milking parlour. They just amble in when they are ready. "It makes the girls very contented," says Caroline. "We use low-intensity farming methods, free of growth promoters, artificial hormones and stimulants. This way is natural for the cows, better for the environment and healthier for humans."
The seed for the ice cream enterprise was originally sown by Fanny Maitland, who runs Fanny's Farm Shop at the top of Reigate Hill. Caroline's brother, William, and Fanny's daughter, Nelly, are both senior members of the Guildford Young Farmers Club, and the message came through that Fanny wanted a supply of local ice cream for her shop. Caroline spotted a business opportunity and St. Joan's Ice Cream is now a best seller.
These days, she produces her fresh ice cream in a whole host of different flavours, which can be enjoyed on their own or with fresh fruit or hot puddings. As well as the classic vanilla, Caroline makes strawberry, chocolate, toffee fudge, coffee, rum & raisin, chocolate chip, mint choc chip, lemon, pistachio, coconut, raspberry, diabetic vanilla, Christmas pudding and her latest sensation, honey & ginger, which was launched in May this year and is already very popular.
"Try chop chip in a pavlova," suggests Caroline, "Or vanilla ice cream with strawberry shortcake." In the meantime, here are two of her own favourite recipes...
Surrey ice cream suggestion...
Ingredients (Serves up to eight people)
1 large fresh pineapple
500g coconut ice cream
- Remove the leaves and all the outer skin of the pineapple
- Cut the pineapple into thick, even slices, ensuring that you also carefully cut out the woody central core.
- Either place over a hot barbecue for approximately 1-2 minutes per side or place under a hot grill taking care that the pineapple doesn't burn.
- Serve immediately with a generous scoop of coconut ice cream
Ingredients (Serves six people)
10in chocolate sponge cake
Family block of choc chip or vanilla ice cream
8 large free-range egg whites
15oz castor sugar
- Using a round pastry cutter, cut the chocolate sponge up into roughly six round cake bases and place them on a heat proof serving dish.
- Carefully position one scoop of ice-cream on top of each chocolate cake roundel.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until they form stiff peaks.
- Gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is shiny and thick.
- Spoon into a piping bag and then pipe over the top of the ice cream ensuring all the ice cream is covered. Blow torch, or grill on a high heat for five minutes until golden all over.
- Serve straight away.
St Joan's Ice Cream is available direct from the farm in Flanchford Road, Leigh, and at Farnham and Ripley Farmer's Markets. Caroline also supplies Fanny's Farm Shop at Reigate Hill, the Jolly Farmer at Betchworth, Priory Farm Shop at South Nutfield, the Wise Old Owl at Kingsfold, Tan House Farm Shop at Newdigate, Courtyard Farm in Burgess Hill, the EIEIO Farm Shop in Thursle and Village Greens in Ockley. It is also on the menu at lots of local pubs.