This is where they make ice cream

To wrap-up National Ice Cream Month, The Social Silo visited traveled to Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster, Ohio, to learn the ins and outs of America’s favorite chilled treat.

John Merriman, general manager, and Dan Steiner, production manager, are both passionate about Hartzler’s products, which include more than just ice cream. Hartzler Family Dairy produces milk, too. In fact, Hartzler’s is the only dairy in Ohio that still sells its milk in glass bottles.

“We were organic before organic was a big thing,” said Merriman. He’s been with the company for seven years. Though Hartzler isn’t a certified organic dairy, the dairy does things, “as nature intended,” as Merriman would say. Hartzler uses certified organic fertilizers on its crops and uses hybrid strains of corn rather than genetically modified varieties.

Step 1: Get the Milk

The milk is delivered from a tanker to Hartzler’s processing facility every day. Before the milk can be pumped into the holding tank, it must be tested for antibiotics. If the milk tests positive for antibiotics, then the whole batch must be disposed of.

If the milk gets the all-clear, then it’s pumped into holding tanks until it’s processed.

Step 2: Process the milk (store, separate, pasteurize)

All of the milk that you buy on store shelves must be processed. Processing includes separating the milk from the milk fat (this is what gives us 1%, 2% or skim milk) and pasteurizing the milk.
This process is important for making ice cream because Hartzler Family Dairy uses the cream that’s separated from its skim milk to make ice cream. The dairy can only make as much ice cream as it makes skim milk.
Pasteurization kills all of the bacteria that may be present in the milk. Pasteurizing makes the milk last longer on the shelf and prevents things like yeast, mold and other bad things from entering the food supply.


We process milk to rid it of bacteria
Hartzler Dairy uses a special kind of pasteurization, called low-temperature vat pasteurization. This kind of pasteurization heats the milk at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. This method leaves important milk enzymes intact.
Usually, at this point in the process, most dairies homogenize their milk. Homogenization is a complex sounding word for breaking down all of the milk fat in the milk. If your milk isn’t homogenized, then it separates in the bottle and you’d have to shake it up before drinking it. Hartzler Dairy chooses not to homogenize its milk.

If you’d like to know more about the processing…process…visit our friend at Agricultured. She has a great post about milk processing.

Hartzler can pasteurize up to 600 gallons at a time. The company processes their milk three times a week.

Step 3: Making the Ice Cream

Hartzler must first make the ice cream mix. The mix contains natural ingredients including milk, cream and sugar. The dairy stores its mix in 2 gallon bags.

The machine that churns the cream

Dan pours the mix into the machine

This ice cream machine churns the ice cream mix while it cools the mixture. It doesn’t freeze the soon-to-be ice-cream because that would make it tough to mix in the other ingredients.

At this step of the process, Dan is adding a mixture that flavors the ice cream. This particular flavor is butter pecan. The butter pecan base is used in the dairy’s “Cowboy Crunch” flavor. Cowboy Crunch has other ingredients too, but they can’t be added to the ice cream machine, they have to be added later.

One batch of ice cream takes around 12-14 minutes to mix. During that time, the machine makes the ice cream chilly, but not freezing.

After the mix is at a good and frosty consistency, Dan pours some into a 3-gallon bucket. Though Hartzler Dairy serves hard ice cream, the mix comes out looking like softserve, that’s because the machine doesn’t chill the mixture to 32 degrees. In case you were wondering, 8 gallons of mix makes about 15 gallons of ice cream!

Cowboy Crunch is a Heathbar based ice cream

Making the ice cream

Here’s the rest of the ingredients for Cowboy Crunch. Dan will add those a little at a time until his bucket is full of delicious looking ice cream.

He pours in a bit of ice cream, then adds some of the ingredients. He continues layering the ingredients so the ice cream has Heath Bars and chocolate throughout. Hartzler Dairy has about 20 different ingredients they use in their ice creams including strawberries, bananas, peanuts, chocolate chips and brownies.

Dan now has the tough job of mixing all of those ingredients into the ice cream. He takes a large spatula and mixes the ice cream by hand, making sure that there’s some ingredients in every bite.

The ice cream is then labeled with a date and put into the freezer to freeze. Then, eventually, the ice-cream is sold to customers in cups or cones.

Step 5: Enjoying

Ice cream magicians The dairy’s storefront location serves roughly 700 customers a day during the week and 1,000 on the weekends — that’s a lot of milk! Harzler Dairy used to get all of its milk off its own farms, but since demand has been so high, Hartzler has added one other farm of dairy cows. Don’t worry, the new farm raises the cows the Hartzler family way.

Hartzler offers over 30 tasty flavors to choose from. Many flavors have a unique name like Ditch Tea and Blushing Bessie. I tried Heifer Trails, a peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cups, chocolate chips and a peanut butter swirl.


Watch our short video



Here’s some great ice cream facts from Icecream.com:

* It takes 12 lbs. of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.
* The U.S. enjoys an average of 48 pints of ice cream per person, per year.
* It takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone.
* In 2003, Portland, Oregon, bought more ice cream per person than any other U.S. city!

Will is Farm and Dairy's newest writer. He's recently moved to Lisbon, Ohio where he lives in a church turned community theater. He enjoys writing (of course), theater and hiking.
Will Flannigan
View all posts by Will Flannigan

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