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Going Soft on Homemade Hard Ice Cream

August 22, 2017

For those who may have missed the news, last Saturday a bunch of FLB readers headed off into the wilderness to taste homemade hard ice cream from five different places around the Capital District. Some might argue that our path took us down to the top of the Hudson Valley. I’m going to save that argument for others.

I’m just here for the food.

Every time we do one of these tours, the goal is to identify five great places to sample ostensibly the same thing. The idea is that in doing so, slight differences at each stop will become more clear, and in the process attendees will get a deeper appreciation for the range of flavors and textures inherent in the food they are evaluating.

Except sometimes, something goes wrong. And in this case it did. Our final stop was Hill-Over Healthy & Fresh. It was one of the places I was most excited about visiting. Because down in Copake they are known as much for their cows as they are for their fluid milk and the ice cream they make.

However, when we arrived, no cows. It turns out the herd had been sold off in May. There was still milk and ice cream. The milk comes from Battenkill. The ice cream was from Byrne Dairy.

Despite the disappointing ending of the tour, the rest of the day was great! And while there are good things to say about the first four stops, only one place can come out on top. So without any further ado, let me tell you how this went down.

Nine adults and at last four kids gathered at Scoups in Latham. It was a nice mix of people who had been on one of these tours before, and a few fresh faces. But in the end, I collected seven completed adult scoresheets. One was a combined scoresheet, and one participant wasn’t able to see the whole thing through.

Each attendee was charged with trying to keep a theme running through their flavor selections at each stop. For example, mine started off as black raspberry, but then had to expand to summer fruit. Although we tried to keep it as close to black raspberry at each stop.

Fuddley attempted to stick to butter pecan, Isela was going for simple flavors, Paperdiva focused on fruit, Kent went with cookie dough, and the team of Max and Ruth hit the wild card flavors.

How did that play out at Scoups? Well, between the attendees, chocolate, peanut butter, butter pecan, strawberry, cookie dough, coconut, black raspberry, and cherry vanilla were sampled.

Looking at relative scores, the flavors that did the best were butter pecan, cherry vanilla, and black raspberry. Country Chick actually said of her cherry vanilla, “Maraschino cherries — I’m in heaven!!”

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The one thing almost everybody agreed upon was that Scoups offered the greatest value of the day. A kids cup weighed in over seven ounces, and cost just $2.38 coming in at a value priced $.33 per ounce.

Then it was off to Dutch Udder in Troy, where the flavor choices really challenged our group.

Thankfully, Dutch Udder has a handout you can read in line about the different flavors because it’s not always that obvious about what is in each concoction by just the name on the chalkboard. Attendees ordered Vanilla bean, bourbon bacon butter pecan, key lime avocado, pink velvet cookie dough, and chocolate oud bruin.

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Chocolate oud bruin? That would be a chocolate base featuring Ommegang’s Brunetta with cherries softened in amaretto. And it’s clever, because that beer uses chocolate malt and has notes of cherries. However, in the height of summer, this flavor with amaretto soaked cherries was the closest thing we could find in the case that resembled seasonal fruit.

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With that said, it was delicious. For the most part, participants loved the flavors and textures produced by Dutch Udder, with Max & Ruth going so far as to say, “This is how ice cream is supposed to taste”. In fact, two of the seven sheets named Dutch Udder the favorite stop of the day. Fuddly’s Bourbon Bacon Butter Pecan and Paperdiva’s Key Lime Avocado hit all the right notes.

Where Dutch Udder fell a bit short was in their inclusions. There was a feeling that flavors with bits in them didn’t have quite enough. And the bits that were present were not evenly distributed. Max & Ruth had a hard time finding any pieces of candied bacon in their cup, Little Miss Fussy and I had precious few cherries, and Kent was longing for more than the two pieces of cookie dough in his scoop.

Oddly, “one scoop” portions weighed-in at a range of 2.75 ounces to 5 ounces, with a mean of 4.28 ounces and a median of 4.75 ounces. Each cost $2.50, so the least expensive scoop cost $.50 per ounce and went up from there.

Then we were off to Samascott, which I only recently learned makes its own ice cream.

With two samples under our belt, the 30 minute drive out to the country was a blessing. So too was the menu board, as we were treated to a host of delights. Attendees ordered the blueberry, apple cinnamon oatmeal cookie, corn, snozberry (a blend of raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry), raspberry, honey, and chocolate. It should be noted that the produce is sourced directly from the farm.

Wow.

The winning flavors here were blueberry, raspberry, honey, and apple cinnamon oatmeal cookie. With four participants declaring this stop the favorite of the day, Samascott earns the designation of a must visit destination for homemade hard ice cream.

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Which isn’t to say the place is without its drawbacks either. Texturally, some found it to be lacking, whether that’s from choosing not to strain more of the corn pulp out of the corn ice cream, or all of those hard little seeds from the raspberry. I found the ice cream to be a little hard and stiff. But Country Chick’s blueberry ice cream tasted “like a bowl of the real deal” and Max & Ruth’s Honey tasted like it was “really cream & honey”.

A kids size was only $2.25 and just a fraction of an ounce smaller than a small, weighing in at 4.4 ounces. Small ranged from 5 ounces to 6.9 ounces, and cost just $3.

The last stop of note was Village Scoop in Hillsdale

Have you ever been to Hillsdale? This was my first trip there. What a cute little hamlet this is. I have no idea how it became so precious, but it seems to be able to support this small, gourmet ice cream shop. The shop may be small inside, but it has a back deck, and grounds where you can sit on an outdoor couch to take in all the beauty that surrounds you.

Even those people who weren’t crazy about the ice cream still acknowledged that it’s a “fun place to hang out”. Technically, this shop doesn’t make it’s own ice cream, but it’s one of the few places to carry Jane’s Ice Cream from Hudson. So I figured it was close enough, especially since Jane doesn’t have a dedicated scoop shop.

The flavors we tried included lavender, black raspberry, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate chip cookie dough. Country Chick went a little crazy and got the strawberry yogurt, which was fine. But no yogurt will ever win an ice cream contest.

This stop was the favorite of Isela, who praised the peanut butter fudge for its flavor, chunks, and creaminess. I noticed that when the Jane’s Ice Cream had melted, it was clearly the thickest richest liquid of the bunch. Those who tried the lavender really enjoyed its intense but balanced flavor. There was a floral character to the black raspberry as well, which was unexpectedly delightful.

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Still, it didn’t quite rise up to the creativity of the Dutch Udder, or the simplicity of Samascott. My bowl was $3 for 4.9 ounces making it the most expensive of the day. But it’s not going to break the bank. And for the sweet setting, it feels like a reasonable premium to pay.

So, what did we learn?

I learned that I’m not really into black raspberry.
Scoups is an incredible value for hard ice cream, even if the flavors are a little muted.
Dutch Udder is delicious, and offers out there flavors, but bits can be hard to find.
Samascott is worth a drive to try the blueberry and the oatmeal cookie flavors.
Village Scoop is a lovely place to visit should you find yourself out in Hillsdale.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out and lent their bodies to science. It was about four hours of ice cream eating, ice cream talking, and country driving. I had a great time, as always, and Little Miss Fussy enjoyed her very first tour. For the record, her favorite spot was Dutch Udder, as she was blown away by the richness of their chocolate.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Fussy Little Tour, you won’t want to miss it.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2017 10:31 am

    Scoups is great. I would like to just sit there all afternoon and eat five ice cream cones instead of driving all over the place. Then pass out.

  2. Chantelle permalink
    August 22, 2017 10:59 am

    I’m so happy Samacott’s was appreciated! The blueberry sounds delicious. I’m going to a food truck festival Thursday in kinderhook so I’ll make sure to stop!

  3. August 22, 2017 11:21 am

    So… who won? (That was a question.) Normally you wind one of these things up with that little detail. It appears Samascott got four “favorite” votes but I am sure you had other categories that might have pushed another establishment to the top.

    • August 22, 2017 11:26 am

      Samascott.

      I guess saying:
      “Samascott earns the designation of a must visit destination for homemade hard ice cream.”

      Is a little different than:
      “Congratulations to Samascott, for being the top rated stop on the tour, making this a must visit destination for homemade hard ice cream.”

      But I thought it was clear, even if maybe it requires some closer reading to pull out the ultimate result.

      • August 22, 2017 4:07 pm

        The rewrite is better. You should also put it, or a variation, at the end for us tl;dr folks.

  4. Beck permalink
    August 22, 2017 12:21 pm

    I live right up the road from Scoups and we go there occasionally, but I have to say, I’m always disappointed. I want to love their ice cream, but the flavors aren’t strong enough, they’re aren’t enough mix-ins, and it’s not as creamy as I’d like. I’ve had their cookie dough, black raspberry, and peanut butter recently. The best was peanut butter, but it wasn’t great. Those who love it, am I missing something? Ordering wrong? I’ve yet to find homemade hard ice cream locally that I love.

    • Beck permalink
      August 22, 2017 12:23 pm

      Sorry for the grammatical errors! I even double checked! In my defense, I have a newborn and my brain is a little addled from sleep deprivation.

    • Susan permalink
      August 22, 2017 1:42 pm

      That’s kind of how I feel about Scoups. The price is right and is fun to stop at if I am in the neighborhood, but I’m not driving from Albany just to go there.

  5. Kyle permalink
    August 23, 2017 9:45 pm

    it’s too bad Dutch Udder’s “Udder Death” Death Wish Coffee ice cream wasn’t on the menu during your visit.. that flavor is amazingly delicious

  6. August 24, 2017 7:47 am

    While you are in Hillsdale on a Saturday, you should definitely go to the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market in Roe-Jan Park in art 22. It’s only a short hop from the village. Open from 9-1 every Saturday. The last weekend if the month is also Artisan Weekend with great local crafters and vendors to view. The market carries a wide variety of premium produce, meats, baked goods, and other locally produced and sourced food and specialty items. With a trip from anywhere.

  7. Benjamin permalink
    September 1, 2017 12:41 pm

    I love Scoups, though I am bit biased as I live about 30 seconds from them. I love the fact that it is homemade, that we can see (and pet) the cows, and that their ice cream is low sugar. I don’t mean that in a healthy way, nor do they claim to be low sugar. But, the flavor of cream and mix-ins comes through unlike other places that are just “sweet.”

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