The Season Of Ice Cream: Tips From The Top

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Host Scott Simon talks about the quintessential summer treat, ice cream, with Barb Zapzalka, owner of Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis, Minn. It ranks as one of the "Top 25 Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.," according to Food and Wine Magazine.


Now, to our occasional WEEKEND EDITION series Taste of Summer.


SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: (Singing) Hot fun in the summertime.

SIMON: A few weeks ago, Alton Brown shared some grilling secrets with us. Today, it'll be ice cream. Whether plain old standard vanilla, or artisanal organic squash blossom rhubarb poblano crunch - a flavor I just made up, by the way - summer is the season of ice cream. And so today, we head to the Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So, do you want a single scoop?

SIMON: Food and Wine magazine says it's one of the top ice cream spots in the nation. Barbara Zapzalka owns Pumphouse Creamery, and joins us from the shop. Thanks so much for being with us.

BARB ZAPZALKA: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Is there a flavor of the moment? Or flavor ingredient of the moment?

ZAPZALKA: We just are wrapping up with our fresh rhubarb ice cream.


SIMON: I just - oh, I - you will attest, I put rhubarb in there before we spoke, right?

ZAPZALKA: Yeah. So it's very, very popular.

SIMON: I want to take a look at some of your other flavors, if we can.


SIMON: Reviewing the menu. Homemade Shortbread and Chocolate Truffles with Roasted Salted Pecans. How do you come up with these flavors?

ZAPZALKA: Ah, that's my favorite part of the job. I like being creative, figuring out what's the trend, what's popular.

SIMON: So, like, do you wake up in the middle of the night and go, oh, my gosh - habanero?

ZAPZALKA: I do sometimes in a way. Like, I'll be driving in to work and all of a sudden I have two flavors I just thought of. Or in the shower. It's very random. It's why I'm in the business.

SIMON: How does your mind work when it comes to concocting new flavors? Do you look for contrast? Do you look for similarities?

ZAPZALKA: You know, it really depends on the ingredients. And it also depends, you know, what is seasonal. During the summer it's obvious, like, there's really good berries going on. It's also about what flavors do go well together. Like, there's chocolate goes well with raspberry.

You know, like there's also the tangy ice cream, a lemon ice cream people like. So it is about figuring out the contrast as well and how it's going to work with dairy, with milk and cream.

SIMON: Forgive me, Ms. Zapzalka, but have you ever come up with a flavor that was, although brilliant, I'm sure, just didn't go over well with your customer base?

ZAPZALKA: We have had cantaloupe ice cream out two different times and it just does not want to sell for me. So we're not putting that out again, but it's nice to put out flavors you're questionable about during the off-season.

SIMON: Do you offer any tips to people who are trying to make ice cream at home?

ZAPZALKA: My advice is if you want some nice creamy ice cream, to use just a little bit of guar gum. It acts as a liquid binder in a way that it makes the ice cream very smooth. Typically, when you make ice cream at home it can be a little bit more frozen, hard.

SIMON: Yeah.

ZAPZALKA: Chunky. But using just like two pinches in a batch of ice cream at home of guar gum is key.

SIMON: Is there a great white whale of flavors that you would like to work into an ice cream one day?

ZAPZALKA: Boy. I've been looking for chokecherries which I grew up with and I can't find chokecherries anywhere now here in Minnesota. So I was thinking about what other ingredients are out there that I can use.

SIMON: Forgive me, poblano and lemon?

ZAPZALKA: Poblano and lemon?

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

ZAPZALKA: Like a sorbet maybe. That sounds really good.

SIMON: It does, doesn't it? If I say so myself.

ZAPZALKA: I'm going to try that. I'm going to try that.


SIMON: OK. Please. We could go into business together and run these Powdermilk Biscuits people out of business.


SIMON: Well, Barbara Zapzalka is owner of the Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks so much for being with us.

ZAPZALKA: Thank you.


STONE: (Singing) Hey, hey, hey, hoo. Hot fun in the summertime. Oh, yeah. Hot fun in the summertime...

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