PLAINWELL, Mich. — As we melt away in these hot days of summer, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t like ice cream. It doesn’t matter what flavor everybody loves ice cream. It helps us cool off, it helps us celebrate special occasions, it goes perfect with hot apple pie, in a cone, with a cake, or just by itself in a dish for a baby or to share with best friends.
Plainwell Ice Cream Company has been making the creamy treat since 1978. While the building they’re in was built as another company in 1953 for the same purpose, Art Gaylord and his son Dave are at the helm making 65 different flavors…compare that with the only eight they had to offer when they started. Art says the biggest change in the ice cream business came when smaller shops went from a batch freezer to the continuous freezer.
There are several steps involved in making ice cream. It’s certainly not complicated, but it can be time consuming. The first step is to load a specially made mix in to a refrigerated bulk storage tank. 350 gallons of mix will generally yield about 700 gallons of ice cream. The mix is especially made for Plainwell Ice Cream Company.
After mixing, the product is pumped over to flavor tanks where things like vanilla or chocolate are added. It then travels to an ice cream freezing machine where air is added. Dave Gaylord says “you need air in the ice cream to give it texture so it’s not icy.” After mixing, freezing, and adding air, the ice cream flows through an ingredient feeder where things like cookies, candy, or nuts are added. The whole process takes about 30 to 40 minutes, but much longer to fill the boxes that get shipped out.
The company makes ice cream two days a week (on Tuesday and Friday) and five different flavors are made each day. After packaging, the ice cream goes in to the deep freeze (actually a freezer called a hardening room) for about 24 hours where the temperature is a frigid 30 below zero.
Plainwell Ice Cream Company in Allegan County is open from March through October at their retail store in downtown Plainwell on Bridge Street. They have banana splits, cones, dishes, malts, shakes, etc. You name it…you’ll find it there! They still produce ice cream and wholesale it as well as fix/repair/replace equipment during the off months, but things tend to slow a bit. Click here for more information. Click here for their Facebook page. Enjoy!