One of the best things about Vermont summers is the creemees. Yes, creemees. Here in Vermont we call soft serve ice cream “creemees”. Soft serve ice cream has a base of milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and stabilizers formulated in a regulated dairy processing plant, but creemees typically have a higher fat content than normal soft serve, making it even creamier in texture and richer in flavor (hence the name!).
The most important factor for creating that amazingly silky texture in creemees is the butterfat content. Most creemee stands use a 5 percent butterfat base, but some use higher levels that require custom mixing at the plant supplying the base. So what’s the difference between soft serve and hard ice cream besides that smooth texture? Soft serve has less milk-fat (3% – 6%) than hard ice cream (10% – 18%), is stored at a warmer temperature (about 20 degrees warmer), and has more air pushed through it while freezing.
There’s are different stories of how the soft serve came to be: the first was a man who liked softer ice cream and just decided to see if his customers did too, and of course, they did! The second story was that a man was selling ice cream from a cart and his cart malfunctioned and wasn’t keeping the ice cream as cold, so instead of panicking, the man just started selling the softer ice cream as a new yummy treat.
Every person you ask is going to have a different opinion as to which flavor is the best (there’s so many!) and which creemee stand makes the creamiest creemee (say that three times fast!). But one of the most popular flavors in Vermont is, you guessed it, maple. Vermonters love their maple syrup and their maple creemees. But it can’t be a creemee made form artificial flavor, it must be made using only the best maple syrup added to the soft serve base in the freezer’s reservoir of the creemee machine. Most maple creemee makers seem to prefer a darker, more strongly flavored syrup for their mixes, but some prefer a more gentler-flavored medium syrup. If a maple creemee is what you’re looking for, the best places are the farms or shops known for their maple syrup. If you’re heading south on Rt. 7 check out the Burnham Maple Farm & Market in Middlebury, and if you’re heading north on Rt. 7 check out Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh and try some other Vermont goodies while you’re there!
If you love fruity flavors – the Charlotte Berry Farm makes berry flavored creemees from their own fruit. In season, visit to pick your own strawberries, black raspberries, or blueberries, and then enjoy a strawberry or blueberry creemee.
Goodie’s Snack Bar is a local all time favorite. They always have multiple delicious hard ice cream flavors, and chocolate and vanilla creemees, but each week they have one special creemee flavor which rotates each week throughout the summer. Maple, black raspberry, orange (my favorite!), coffee, strawberry, and blueberry are all included in the rotation. They may be introducing a new flavor soon, mint chocolate chip! They also have great snack bar food, razzles (think McFlurry’s but try it out with the special flavor), sundaes, milkshakes, and cookie ice cream sandwiches. Just one warning – don’t order a large, they have to lean the tall creemee just to get it out of the order window!
The Village Creeme stand (spelled with only three e’s!) is the most memorable creemee stand in VT. It’s a small shop with a bright yellow and white striped awning. Try out the vanilla creemee root beer float or a creemee dipped in melted chocolate. Stop in for a creemee after swimming at the Bristol Falls or a nice hike at Mt. Abe.
Another local favorite is Vermont Cookie Love in North Ferrisburgh. First known for their freshly baked cookies and frozen cookie dough, they are now one of the best creemee stands in VT. Try out their maple-coffee twist or one of their love-wiches (a creemee sandwiched between two of their cookies) after a day of shopping in Burlington.
All these flavors are best topped off with some rainbow or chocolate sprinkles. The best memories are made when the sun is out and you have sprinkles and creemee dripping down your hand. Enjoy!