Homemade Ice Cream, Truckee style

Ken Blum has turned his passion for ice cream into Tahoe’s newest creamery.

It’s one of those intense, sweltering days and the need to cool off is paramount. The remedy? A crunchy sugar cone filled with rich, creamy, handmade, artisan ice cream.

Ice cream is truly one of summer’s pleasures. The history of this treat dates back to Alexander the Great who sent runners to the mountains to return with snow and flavored it with honey. In Rome, Nero had a penchant for fruit-flavored snow. It wasn’t until the 17th Century in Italy that cream was added to the snow cone, which gave birth to the first sorbet. With the advent of refrigeration, ice cream became more available and by the 19th Century was being manufactured.

Owner Kenny Blum opened the Little Truckee Ice Creamery, located at the west end of Donner Lake, in June. Blum, a climber, who in his former life owned a sea kayak and hiking guide company in Prince William Sound said he has a long history and relationship with ice cream.

He and his ice cream chef, Christina Spittler, have created unique flavors that tempt the taste buds.

“It was a tradition when I climbed in Yosemite and whenever I traveled, I went on an ice cream tour. I was inspired by good ice cream,” says Blum. “I had no idea I’d ever open an ice cream shop even though I thought Prince William Sound needed one.”

Blum went to ice cream school for his current business venture. It took two years of research.

One thing is certain, whether he was eating ice cream in Argentina or gelato in Italy, Blum was passionate about ice cream.

India Welch enjoys the hand-crafted caramel swirl.

“In other countries, the sugar content is higher than the fat content. But American ice cream is lower in sugar and higher in fat,” he says.

He and his ice cream chef, Christina Spittler, have created unique flavors that tempt the taste buds. The homemade ice cream is all natural, made with 16 percent milk fat. They make small-batch artisan flavors.

“Christina is the scientist. She creates the standards,” says Blum.

My partner in crime for this ice-cream adventure was 9-year-old India Welch, who without hesitation ordered the caramel swirl.

“It’s really, really good,” she said.

Blum offered me a taste of almost every flavor of ice cream in the shop. One of his favorites is a white mint chocolate chip. I would say it is definitely one of the best mint chips I have ever tasted — and one of India’s favorites, as well.

The pecan praline was rich with praline pecans and caramel swirl: velvety, crunchy and super tasty. The peanut-butter cup was pretty fabulous, too. Next visit, I’ll mix in a bit of chocolate ice cream. The salted caramel was pretty stellar.

The pecan praline and peanut butter cup.

The shop currently offers 16 flavors that rotate weekly. It also has non-dairy offerings as well, such as a toasted coconut with chocolate chips and sorbet. The sorbet of the day was Marionberry/blueberry lemonade, which was like eating fresh, chilled berries with a touch of citrus — refreshing and delicious. Blum and Spittler have created a watermelon sorbet that is one of their best sellers.

“It’s a light and summery flavor,” says Blum.

In addition to making their own chocolate chips — they melt the chocolate, lay it out on thin sheets and break it up — they also make their own caramel. Blum’s sister owns Carr’s Ciderhouse in Massachusetts. He uses her cider syrup for the caramel swirl ice cream.

Blum says most of the products they use are locally sourced whenever possible, such as Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. For those who love java, the Dark Horse coffee ice cream was incredible, rich and flavorful.

“It took a long time to develop and find the right roast. We went to Dark Horse and it made a huge difference in flavor. We needed a bold, intense flavor,” says Blum. “Anything fresh makes a huge difference.”

In addition to sugar and waffle cones and cups, the Little Truckee Ice Creamery makes ice cream sandwiches with homemade chocolate-chip cookies. Ginger, snicker doodle, and oatmeal cookies are in the works and ice cream cakes can be made to order. The newest flavor coming to the shop is the Truckee Trails flavor made with vanilla ice cream, pine-nut brittle and brownies. The hardest part about this trip is deciding which flavor to order. They are all delicious.

Little Truckee Ice Creamery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit truckeeicecream.com.

Priya Hutner

Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience.
Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle.
She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks.
| priya@tahoethisweek.com