July is national ice cream month, and the blazing heat has been drawing customers to The Berry Patch in Ellerbe for a cool treat.
What many customers don’t know is how Lee Berry’s homemade ice cream is made.
“It really is homemade, we make about 60 to 70 gallons of it every day,” said Berry. “Once it’s in the churn, it takes about 45 minutes to make.”
Berry has two 10 gallon churns that aren’t like any most people around here have seen.
“These churns were hand-made by an Amish man in Ohio,” said Berry, who came across an advertisement for the churns in a magazine about nine years ago. “I had to leave a message for him, since he didn’t have a phone or anything. He went to town once a week to check messages, and I had to wait for him to get back to me when he was in town.”
The stainless steel drums are encased in wooden shells, and are electric.
“They were originally designed to run off a hit and miss engine, but he built these so I could plug them in inside — an engine would just be too noisy here,” said Berry.
It’s not just the unique churns, spinning the old fashioned treat around in rock salt, that give the Berry Patch ice cream a leg up on the store-bought stuff. The ingredients are what make the popular produce stand’s ice cream stand out.
“Well, we use strawberries from our farm for the strawberry ice cream,” said Berry. “We don’t grow peaches, but we buy peaches from local growers. We always use the most local fruit we can find for the ice cream.”
Anyone who has ever eaten ice cream from The Berry Patch has probably noticed the rich, creamy texture.
“Most soft serve ice cream uses four percent butter fat milk, most store bought brands will use 10 percent — but we use 14 percent,” said Berry. “That’s what makes it so smooth and delicious. It’s real ice cream. A lot of love goes into making this.”
Strawberry and peach compete for the top selling spot, and butter pecan is always a strong second on the list.
The ice cream shop offers 19 flavors, from traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla to more interesting twists like orange pineapple, vanilla fudge ripple, peanut butter, banana and pistachio.
“I’m a fan of the chocolate,” said Lori Jarrett, from West Virginia. “My family stops here for ice cream every year on the way back from the beach. It’s the best ice cream ever.”
The Berry Patch churns out ice cream from March until November.
The Berry Patch is located at 351 Cargo Road, in Ellerbe, just off Exit 8 on Hwy. 220. For more information, call 910-652-3276.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.