By: Mindy Waite
I recently learned that July is National Ice Cream Month and July 21st is National Ice Cream Day. Like most Americans, I latched onto the excuse to order up this “sometimes” treat and started my search for local ice cream.
Alas! It turns out that there aren’t any producers in Southern Maryland that are selling ice cream made with local farm milk. Just look at the map of the Maryland Ice Cream Trail to the right, and you’ll see most of the delicious ice cream stops are located in northern Maryland.
It’s Not for Lack of Trying
Southern Maryland does have several commercial ice cream manufacturers who have expressed considerable interest in sourcing local milk for their ice cream. The only problem? We’re missing the milk!
Only one dairy exists in all of Southern Maryland, and that lone dairy is relatively small at about 20 cows. All of the milk it produces is used exclusively to make their aged, raw-milk cheeses. In order to produce any other dairy products for sale (milk, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream etc), a dairy has to be “Grade A” certified, requiring pasteurization equipment and rigorous compliance with many complex food safety requirements, sanitation standards, and production procedures. Sounds like a lot of work, especially for a small dairy!
Maybe Next Year?
Fear not! A second Southern Maryland dairy is in the works. Clover Hill Dairy – Cheese House is an up-and-coming dairy cooperative in St. Mary’s county that is working closely with Maryland Division of Milk Control and SMADC towards certification and production in the very near future. If all goes well, the dairy should be ready to produce milk for use in a variety of cheeses sometime in 2014. The dairy has a long-term goal to certify its products as Grade A, which means Southern Maryland producers and families could soon make their own ice cream from milk produced by local farms.
So despair not, Southern Maryland. We may someday be on the Maryland Ice Cream Trail, and when that day comes, every month can be Ice Cream Month.