Guy Warner: The heat is on!

Enjoy an artisan ice-cream on those hot summer days in the Cotswolds

Enjoy an artisan ice-cream on those hot summer days in the Cotswolds - Credit: Archant

Competition is fierce amongst the Cotswold’s ice cream makers

Well, quite a few people it seems, if the recent explosion in artisan ice cream makers is anything to go by – according to some reports there are now over 1,000 artisan ice cream sellers in the UK. With our rather temperate climate, I always assumed going into the ice cream business in this country was asking for trouble, but maybe I’m wrong. There are more luxury ice cream makers in the Cotswolds than ever before, many of them producing delicious ice creams that are increasingly innovative in flavour; Damson & Sloe Gin from Just Rachel, Cappuccino and Pistachio from Spot Loggins, Rhubarb Crumble from Winstone’s Cotswold Ice Cream, Passionfruit Curd & Toasted Marshmallow from Harriet’s Jolly Nice… I could go on.

However, I’ve tried quite a few ‘artisan’ ice creams and rather disappointingly, they are not all as ‘luxury’ as they might suggest. There are plenty of occasions when I’ve treated myself to a rather decadent-sounding, locally-made salted caramel or organic dairy ice cream and wished I’d opted for the rather more reliable Ben & Jerry’s instead. Sacrilegious I hear some say, but with ‘ice cream days’ being so few and far between in the UK, bland ice cream can feel such a let down and just because it’s ‘local’ isn’t enough; when I do indulge, I want it to be absolutely, gob-smackingly, mind-blowingly the best I’ve ever had because you never know when you might get the chance again!

Once local company that gets it spot on (pardon the pun), is Spot Loggins, which in my mind, is ice cream as it should be. The Honeycomb is a family favourite in our household, and my children ask for it on a daily basis – no sub-14°C off switch in their minds! Made using milk from organically-fed cows, the ice cream is naturally rich and creamy and where possible, fruit is sourced locally. It’s all churned by hand in small batches by owner, Nicola Appleby and her mother-in-law, plus two full-time ice cream makers: when the weather is good, they can make 300 litres of ice cream a day.

If I’m feeling a bit more health conscious, I love a really punchy sorbet and Just Rachel, based in Ledbury, is the place to go – their Gooseberry & Elderflower is knockout, though the Herefordshire Cider sorbet is rather fun too.

These new-style artisan ice creams may be more expensive than the ice creams of old but it seems we don’t mind paying for a bit of luxury. Sales of cheaper ‘stick’ ice creams have actually fallen in recent years, while sales of grown-up ice creams and frozen yoghurts have continued to increase.

The thing about ice cream is that it should feel indulgent and as far as I’m concerned, the more decadent the better. That said, if you start to add up the cost of these little indulgences, not to mention the calorific content, for once, I can truly say I’m rather grateful for our temperamental British weather!

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Dream ice creams

Spot Loggins: this family-run dairy in Bretforton makes indulgent ice creams using organic milk and seasonal, foraged fruits. They have 12 main flavours including the popular Cookies & Cream, plus seasonal variations which include Asparagus ice cream, once featured on The One Show.

Harriet’s Jolly Nice: based in the old filling station on the Cirencester to Stroud road, this café and farm shop has made a name for its creative range of ice creams and sorbets which include Sloe Gin & Tonic or Pimm’s sorbet, and Coffee, Honey & Almond Brittle or Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate ice cream.

Chedworth Ice Cream: indulgence is what it’s all about for these gelato ice cream makers who use the thickest yellow cream and the freshest whole milk in all of their scoops. New for summer is a Beer ice cream, in collaboration with Cotswold Lion Brewery, and The Bounty – a coconut and dark chocolate chip version.

Click here to read about some of the Cotswold’s best ice creams!