For the love of lavender: homemade ice cream adds flavor to an aromatic collaboration

Lavender ice cream fills a lavender cone at Round Top Ice Cream in Damariscotta on Monday, June 27 (Photo by Bessie Cameron Yee)

Ice cream lovers can enjoy the intensely local floral flavor when they visit Alna’s SeaLyon farm on Saturday trains on the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway in July. This year’s celebration of all things lavender adds Round Top Ice Cream to the burgeoning partnership between farm and rail.

Now in its second year, the Lavender Pickin’ Dinnertime Train is gearing up to join Pick Your Own Pumpkin and Steam and Sleigh as a signature collaboration between the two Alna establishments. New vendors such as Round Top and Wiscasset’s Maine Tasting Center will complete offerings from Grandpa’s Kitchen in Pittsfield and the farm shop.

After last year’s much-welcomed lavender Saturdays, ranchers Don and Marcia Lyons wanted to build on the momentum. Marcia Lyons approached Stephanie Boland, owner of Round Top Ice Cream, about bringing lavender ice cream to the party.

Lavender ice cream made its Round Top debut in 2021 when Poland, looking for ways to incorporate more local produce into the nearly 60 flavors of ice cream that can be found in Round Top, began fiddling with mixing simple lavender syrup into cream. .

Poland remembered looking at the menu boxes that hung above the counter at the ice cream stand and thought “What else do we need? More chocolate-based flavors?” When I looked at the entire menu, lavender was the flavor I felt was missing.

Poland said it has come across lavender in many culinary venues, from lavender honey to cocktail recipes to the unforgettable scallop dish served with lavender syrup.

To create the new ice cream, Poland has started using a grocery store food grade lavender product, but said it doesn’t have “that extra punch” you want. When a friend introduced her to SeaLyon Farm Lavender, she found the strength she was looking for.

“It really is a good cooking lavender,” she said. “It makes a really great simple drink – strong.”

The fragrant flower, intense in the syrup, becomes more delicate and delicate in the final product, imparting a fresh, clean and unique flavor to ice cream.

Poland’s parents have owned Round Top, a staple in the community since 1904, and she grew up on an old farm helping with the family’s business while still in elementary school. Poland has had the company since 2010 and now making ice cream is almost self-explanatory.

“There are really no recipes—it’s all just here and I just throw it all together,” she said.

To make lavender ice cream, I made a large amount of simple syrup, and boiled dried lavender kernels with sugar and water. Then she added a slow stream of syrup to the cream, sampling it until she got the taste she was looking for.

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Poland said it eats about 15 gallons of lavender ice cream a week and expects to sell 200 gallons during the summer. The ice cream soon became a favorite of the staff. Natalie Kahler is a fan of the classics and loves how the lavender-vanilla ice cream settles down, and how the subtle flavors harmonize with one another. Amanda Taylor described it as “creamy, with a bit of a pop.”

Poland plans to conduct further experiments with locally sourced products and ingredients. She envisions ice cream flavors like sweet corn, rhubarb, and honeycomb joining Maine Raspberry and Farm Fresh Lavender on the menu.

Poland strongly believes in collaborating, learning from other producers and sellers and exchanging ideas about new opportunities. This Maine made gift shop is another new addition to the flagship store in Damariscotta.

For Don and Marcia Lyons, the lavender crop is a major source of income, despite the short harvest period. It has already become a constant part of their agri-tourism plans, and they have created a variety of value-added products using lavender from jams and jellies to candles and lip balms.

The initial farm plan, drawn up in 2017, didn’t even include agritourism, but when WW&F proposed destination-based events, Don and Marcia Leon saw the possibilities. The 15-minute train rides through the woods to the farm have become part of what defines SeaLyon Ranch and have helped fuel growth that will allow the couple to scale their offerings — when they can provide the staff to make it happen.

Approximately 150 people attend the lavender picking events, many by train, but also. Don Lyons said the scent of lavender, known for its comforting inclinations, so invigorates the air that “it’s sometimes hard to get her to leave.” Describe walking the farm at the end of an evening and finding a woman lying next to a patch of lavender missing in a book.

WW&F Visitor Interaction Coordinator Steve Piwarski said that when Don and Marcia Lyons suggested adding the tulip pick-up train to the existing roster of dual events, rail leadership thought it would be another winner. The concept took off last year and Piwowarski expects the trains to sell out again.

The inclusion of Round Top is in line with Poland’s business vision. She wants Round Top to be part of the community that SeaLyon is building in Lincoln County, to support Lyons’ efforts to shine a light on local providers.

“Being a part of something – part of their farm – it’s beautiful,” she said.

Lavender trains will run every Saturday in July at 4pm and 6pm.

For more information, go to sealyonfarm.com or wwfry.org.

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