You’d never guess Karen Colombo’s first batch of ice cream was a disaster after tasting her Favorite Brand Ice Cream, made in Vineyard Haven and sold only on the Island.
“Years ago I was milking cows on Martha’s Vineyard at a few farms, ended up with excess milk, and started making ice cream at home with a small machine,” Ms. Colombo says. “Really, the first batch was terrible, it had egg shells in it. But I just stuck with it. I thought ‘this could be a good idea.’ I developed the recipes, got a bigger machine, and rented a kitchen last year.”
A bigger kitchen has allowed Ms. Colombo to sell five main flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and ginger) and seasonal favorites such as blueberry, key lime, burnt sugar, pumpkin spice, and perhaps maple walnut this fall, to Cronig’s Market, Waterside Market, and Fiddlehead Farm.
Sold in pints (and 4 oz. cups at Waterside), the base vanilla recipe is made with all natural milk and cream, organic evaporated cane juice, eggs, and vanilla. Burnt Sugar is made the same way, except the sugar is burnt (not burned, Ms. Colombo notes, as there is a big difference). For ginger, she uses fresh ginger root; for coffee, whole coffee beans; and for fruity flavors, whole fruit, not flavoring.
Making about 24 quarts per flavor at a time, it takes Ms. Colombo about two hours to make the batter, and another two hours to spin it through the machine and package it. “From opening my first container of milk to putting it on the store shelf, it takes about four hours.”
Where did the name come from? “I use all my favorite brands,” Ms. Colombo says. “I use my favorite brand of organic sugar, favorite brand of cocoa, and my favorite brand of vanilla. My favorite brands include fair trade and organic products. I use milk, cream, and eggs from New England dairy farmers, and everything else is organic and fair trade.”
Ms. Colombo is open to special flavor requests for events and restaurants. Just last week, if you dined at Zephrus, you may have tried Favorite Brand’s chocolate jalapeñ;o ice cream, specifically requested by the restaurant.
In general, she gets good feedback. “What a lot of people say is ‘I like it because it’s not too sweet. It tastes like what it really is.'”
Find Favorite Brand Ice Cream at Cronig’s, Fiddlehead Farm, and Waterside Market. Pints sell for approximately $7; cups for $4 (found only at Waterside).