Mrs Dowsons ice cream: from farm shed to fine dining
Using raw milk and cream from their own family dairy farm, Mrs Dowsons Ice Cream has come a long way from its origins in a ramshackle farm shed to become a favourite with visitors and residents alike, as well as top chefs from around the country.
Amanda Dowson and husband Eric, a third-generation farmer in the Ribble Valley, have created an award-winning brand that reflects their family values and honest approach.
And their natural, real dairy ice cream is bucking the trend: a Which? survey last year found that seven of the UK’s most-loved ice cream brands contain no fresh milk or cream; of the 24 brands surveyed, including Ben & Jerry’s, Walls and Häagen-Dazs, nine contained no fresh milk and ten had no cream.
Mrs Dowsons is something totally different, a dairy-packed treat that’s described on their website as the “sweet legacy of the finest ingredients, extraordinary recipes and an obsessive attention to detail”.
“In 2001, using honest local ingredients and the freshest milk, Eric and I took the plunge and bought our first little ice cream machine. The whole family sat around the kitchen table, sampling the first tubs of ice cream which we produced,” recalls Amanda, now the company's managing director.
Using a small disused farm building they opened a makeshift ice cream parlour and painted a sign for the farm entrance – and they haven't looked back since. Thanks to word of mouth, the delicious Mrs Dowsons range is now in demand from eateries across the region.
The family-run firm has now invested in new ice cream-making equipment as part of a major long-term plan to transform the farm’s ice cream production and support the dairy farm in a time of uncertainty around British farming.
“This spring we invested in increasing our production four-fold to keep up with the demand and meet our aims of expanding as the North West’s best-loved ice cream,” explains production manager Ethan Dowson.
“The new ice cream equipment will help us to continue our award-winning ice cream production right here on the farm, including providing more jobs for our local community as well as amazing ice cream for some of the region’s top restaurants and chefs.”
The raw milk and cream arrive at the Old Dairy on the farm in Clayton-le-Dale where they’re mixed with skimmed milk, sugar and stabilisers before being pasteurised and homogenised, then aged to build the flavour and body to resemble a thickened custard. Next, it's time to add the jams, purees, extracts and oils that are just a fraction of the ingredients used to create the mouth-watering range of flavours, and then the finished recipes are churned and frozen – before making their way to a bowl or cone near you.
The process may sound deceptively simple but the result is a light and pure-flavoured ice cream, with smooth, consistent texture and a rich, velvety texture.
“Our vision has always been to create and promote great-tasting, honest ice cream and I'm so proud of what we've achieved,” adds Amanda. “We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our flavours, with local sourcing and family values.”
For more information, see www.mrsdowsons.co.uk/ice-cream