Morton's Moo - Ellsworth
If you're a health nut, Morton's Moo on School Street in Ellsworth is for you. This ice cream shop, owned by Kirsten and Steve Henry, will satisfy your cravings without all the guilt.
"We're striving to use better ingredients and [provide] healthy options to people. We use Maine Moo milk and organic milk so we have organic options. We're always striving to make ice cream and our other products without preservatives," Kirsten Henry explained.
The Henrys have been whipping together ice cream, frozen desserts and drinks at Morton's Moo since March of 2011. Before then, Kirsten's mother, Sarah Morton, the original Morton's Moo owner, was the one serving up sweet treats to customers. And although she's in her mid-60s now, 'Nana Morton,' as she's called, still helps out at the business.
"I think our parlor is unique because it is year round, which most ice cream parlors are not," Henry said. "We make ice cream constantly to keep everything in the freezers fresh."
And some of their best sellers are flavors that just can't be found anywhere else.
"Our ginger and nutty bovine are both pretty popular," Henry said. "I think we're actually becoming known for our wonderful traditional ice cream flavors; however, we're also getting a nice niche for our interesting and fun flavors [like] Amarena, [a] cherry chip ice cream and blood orange sorbet."
Another great flavor at Morton's Moo is fudgin curmudgeon, a chocolate lover's dream that was created, Kirsten says, by sheer mistake.
"My husband and I were making ice cream one night and were in deep conversation and put in double the amount of chocolate we were supposed to. As we were taking it out of the freezer we were saying, 'This is really, really dark - what happened?' We were thinking we ruined a huge batch of ice cream. We tasted it and our eyes popped out of our head. Fudgin curmudgeon was born," she explained.
In keeping with their organic, healthy and preservative free (when possible) tradition, Morton's Moo has also created a wheat-free waffle cone for customers avoiding gluten.
"More and more people are becoming aware of what is in the products they eat, and there's a much stronger movement for wheat-free and dairy-free options," Henry said.
Morton's Moo is open Monday through Wednesday 11 to 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 11 to 9 p.m. and closed on Sundays.
Spencer's Ice Cream - Bradley
Another local favorite ice cream hot spot is Spencer's in Bradley. This family-owned ice cream shop located at 77 Main Street has been operated by Matthew Michaud since 2001.
"We make one batch at a time. It's never mass produced," Michaud said. "Making ice cream is not a hard job, it's just time consuming, especially when you can only make one flavor at a time."
Of course it's pretty hard not to taste test your own inventory when you own an ice cream shop. Some would say that's just a perk of the job.
"I eat it all the time, every day. My daughter is 10 years old and she has an ice cream every day whether she needs it or not," Michaud admitted.
There are eight employees at Spencer's, half of which are Michaud's family members. The day I stopped in his mom, Cherie, was working.
"I had two college girls last year whose goal was to have one of every flavor by the time summer was over. They worked from one side of the board to the other," she said.
Spencer's attracts a lot of locals, but this place also draws people in from all over the state and beyond.
"We have more locals definitely. But people will travel out of their way to get an ice cream [here]," Michaud explained. "People who moved away that come back say when they visit they have to come in because they can't get ice cream like this where they live."
Leithea Porter traveled from Island Falls to Bradley to get her favorite Spencer's ice cream on the first day of summer.
"Coffee is my favorite. Today I'm going to have one scoop of coffee and one scoop of orange pineapple," Porter said. "When we come to Bangor we always stop at Claudia's for a crab roll and here for ice cream."
Lynette Boudreau and Jacqueline Foss also stopped by Spencer's to enjoy one another's company and a cone.
"This is the best. I just ate pistachio, but butter pecan is my favorite," Boudreau said.
Spencer's most popular flavor is French vanilla.
"It's definitely a good product; it's good and sweet and it goes with everything including pies, desserts and brownies," Michaud explained.
But there are many customers who will tell you they are avid fans of this shop's grapenut, strawberry rhubarb and black raspberry ice cream.
"They're all delicious. The grapenut is so good," Foss said.
Spencer's is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from now until Halloween.
One scoop is $2.50, two scoops is $3.25 and for a large three-scoop ice cream, it's $4.
Stone Fox Farm Creamery - Monroe
Bruce Chamberlain of Monroe joked for years about making ice cream and having his own ice cream company. That joke turned into reality in 2009 when Stone Fox Farm Creamery was born.
"We started out with really no plan. [My wife] Kathy did catering for horse shows so she had a vending trailer and we started selling ice cream out of there. [The ice cream] was doing better than the food items and we decided to switch entirely to all ice cream in 2010 and have been doing it ever since," Chamberlain explained.
Bruce and Kathy still use that vending trailer, or mobile cone as they now call it, for area farmers' markets. And unlike Morton's Moo and Spencer's, Stone Fox Farm Creamery ice cream is available at more than 15 stores around Maine including the Natural Living Center in Bangor and Jonathan Edwards market on Main Street in Ellsworth.
"Some of the people at the farmers' markets own stores and asked us about selling it, so that's how we started selling wholesale," Chamberlain said. "We get calls weekly from stores wanting to sell our ice cream and we've done no advertising at all."
However, supplying stores with their product has had its challenges.
"The most popular by far is the salted caramel; we can't even keep it in stock," Chamberlain explained. "I think if I made the salted caramel and nothing else, we'd do well."
Fortunately for customers, Bruce and Kathy make close to 30 different flavors, including pumpkin ginger and Maine raspberry.
"We have a pretty loyal following. It's almost cult like," he said. "I'm always amazed and appreciative when people tell us how much they appreciate our ice cream."
Chamberlain said it's that loyal following that has catapulted this part-time retirement job of his into a full time position.
"Right now, I'm working harder than I ever have. Every year so far, our business has doubled in size," Chamberlain explained. "It's not always a good time in a recession to start a business, but ice cream is one of those things I guess that people can afford three or four dollars for a cone [even in hard times]. I can't imagine what business will be like when we get out of the recession."
For more information on Stone Fox Farm Creamery including locations that carry their products, log onto stonefoxfarmcreamery.com.
We asked you, our readers, what some of your favorite flavors and places are in Maine to order a scoop or two of ice cream. Here are a few responses we received back via our Facebook page.
Laurie Paul Savageau: I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of Pete's Pretty Good Ice Cream in Holden! Being the chocolate lovin' Maine-ah that I am, whoopie pie gets my vote!
Laura Wolfson: Frozen custard in New Gloucester, Maine, is by far the best summer spot for ice cream. While it's actually frozen custard, and not ice cream, it hits the spot every time.
Selbi Blake: Houlton Farms Dairy. I really love anything they have, but a couple of my faves are black raspberry and grapenut soft serve...Yum!
Justin Lizzotte: Black raspberry. Spencer's ice cream, Bradley, Maine.
Larry Sawyer: I'm definitely partial to soft serve black raspberry at Wahl's Dairy Port in Bucksport.