Ice cream sold at Fish Family Farm Creamery in Bolton has a freshness edge because it doesn’t have far to go from the cow to the cone.
The milk that goes into their ice cream comes from 70 Jersey cows on the farm and the all important “base” of the ice cream — or core recipe — is processed right there in their bottling plant, both conditions a relative rarity.
“It’s creamy and it feels good in your mouth. there’s no after taste,” owner Don Fish said of his farm’s premium, 16 percent milk fat ice cream.
He said milk from the Jersey cows as opposed to the more common Holstein cows is higher in fat, protein, milk solids and calcium.
“It’s more nutritious,” than other milk, he said.
He also uses an old school “batch pasteurization” process that “locks the flavor in,” he said.
Stringent public health regulations require ice cream base be made in a processing plant, so some ice cream shop owners who say they make their own product actually can’t say they make it from scratch because the base is made elsewhere, albeit using their own recipe.
Fish Family Farm makes their base, as well as the base of other ice cream sellers.
With added swirls of flavor and chunks of ingredients, the creamery’s farm fresh ice cream takes taste to another level.
Fish’s grandson Justin Levesque, 36, took over the farm’s ice cream operation five years ago, and kept his grandfather’s “great recipe,” he said, but “went rogue,” on flavor creativity.
“The smile on their face after they take that first bite, I live for that,” Levesque, 36, said. “If you have a solid base you can do anything.”
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Fish Family Farm Creamery & Dairy in Bolton on Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (Aaron Flaum/Hartford Courant)
Levesque said they scoop eight to 10 flavors at a time in the farm store and now have a rotation of 53 flavors.
Some customer favorites are: Jersey Droppings, an espresso based ice cream with chocolate covered espresso beans; Jersey tracks, a peanut butter base with chocolate covered espresso beans; Calf Tracks, a banana base with peanut butter swirl and miniature chocolate chips; and Mojo, a salted caramel mixed with chocolate covered pretzels.
Levesque said he’s finally created a cotton candy flavor with products containing less sugar that makes the eater “Feel like they’re at a carnival.”
To this day, vanilla and sweet cream remain overall customer favorites, he said.
A child’s wish fulfilled
Fish, 77, bought the 211 acre gentleman’s farm at 20 Dimock Lane in 1981 when he was 35 and already owned a successful business, DW Fish Real Estate Co.
He turned the property into a dairy farm, although he has remained in the real estate business and other endeavors as well.
It was the same farm he told his brothers while riding the school bus at age 6 that he wanted to own someday.
In 1988 Fish added a bottling/processing plant at the farm that cost $1 million back then to be able to bottle and sell their milk as well as the milk of others.
It was also in 1988 they started selling ice cream.
It takes milk, cream, sugar and few other ingredients to make the base required for ice cream.
Fish, a big Jersey cow fan, said they use the superior “batch pasteurization” process in which the base product is cooked in stainless steel vats and cooled immediately. It’s the way they did it in the 1950s, he said.
The more common shortcut method is to flash pasteurize the mix at high temps, he said.
“If buying the mix somewhere else. they would not pasteurize the base the same,” Fish said.
Embracing the community
The farm is about much more than cows, milk and ice cream to Fish. The community visits the cows, walks around looking at other farm animals, plays frisbee on the lawn, relaxes at picnic tables, and attends special events.
One reviewer wrote on the farm’s Facebook page: “Beautiful farm in a setting that takes you out of the stressful time we’re living in. Very therapeutic to come here…The ice cream is to die for, especially enjoy the maple walnut.”
Visitors can even watch milk being bottled through a huge window in the farm store.
“When you have a dream at 6 years old and you buy it at 35 you want to share it,” Fish said. “My biggest joy is watching the joy of other people.”
Fish still milks cows on Sunday mornings so he doesn’t get “rusty,” he said.
Levesque graduated from college and became a social worker, spending some time in the career, but didn’t feel it was his calling.
As for the ice cream business, “It feels like home,” he said.
Levesque said he wants to carry on his grandfather’s legacy of wanting to make other people happy.
The farm store where the ice cream and other items are sold is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer and until 6 p.m. during colder months.
Even though Sunday is a good day to sell ice cream they are closed then, Fish said, because he grew up believing that was “the Lord’s day,” and you shouldn’t do any work you don’t have to.