We all scream for Petaluma ice cream

With at least seven producers, Petaluma has a flavor for everyone.|

Where to find them

Petaluma Creamerypetalumacreamerycheeseshop.comThree Twinsthreetwinsicecream.comStraus Family Creamerystrausfamilycreamery.comLaLa's Creamerylalascreamery.comClover Sonomacloversonoma.comFru-tafru-ta.comMariposa Ice Creameryfacebook.com/Mariposa-Ice-Creamery-426491960759440

621 Western Ave, Petaluma

134 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma

Plaza North Petaluma

Petaluma produces a lot of great ice cream. After an exhaustive search, I can reveal which flavors seemed to rise to the top of the list of everyone on my food crew.

There are few foods more universally loved than ice cream. Luckily, everyone on my food crew is a fan of ice cream, so we were well equipped to dive into the more than 50 flavors we accumulated in preparation for our master tasting. Local ice creams we tasted came from Petaluma Creamery, Three Twins, Straus Family Creamery, LaLa’s Creamery, Clover Sonoma, Fru-ta, and Petaluma newcomer, Mariposa Ice Creamery.

Needless to say, I was like a kid in a candy store as I headed into Petaluma Market to begin this endeavor. I was only looking for local delights, but alas, even those are so vast and varied that my budget would not allow me to buy everything. With plenty of Clover, Straus and Three Twins to choose from, I selected flavors that either piqued my taste buds, or that I thought would give us a nice mix of flavors to choose from.

After leaving Petaluma Market, we were off to Mariposa Ice Creamery, which as luck would have it, was having one of their rare warehouse sales. With no retail outlet, the majority of Mariposa’s business is wholesale, catering and special events, so catching them selling their overflow stock is a special treat.

Owner Pilar McGoldrick-Bernard comes from the world of corporate sales, but as she approached 53 years old, she read Jess Jackson’s book about how when he turned that same age, he left a successful law practice and started what would become one of the most successful wineries in the country, Kendall Jackson.

Entering her third year of production, Pilar usually sources her milk from Straus Family Creamery, and because of her small production, offers small-batch custom orders. She offers both ice cream and fruit juice bars, and once opened, Penngrove Market will carry her ice cream.

Fru-ta was next on the list, where we picked through a large assortment of Michoacan-style ice creams, most of which are also available in bar form. Although a highly polished operation, Fru-ta makes all their ice creams on-site, and is just a three-shop operation, all owned by the same person.

Next up was Petaluma Creamery, which is simply known as “the Creamery” to locals. My favorite creamery, you will find stacks of their ice cream freebie punch cards littering the center console of my car. Ranging from their single scoop all the way up to three gallons, I have been hoarding my punched out cards with designs on throwing a big free Creamery ice cream party one of these days.

Handmade in three-gallon batches, this ice cream is creamier than the others, in large part because they use Jersey cow milk, which has a higher butterfat content than the Holstein milk usually used for ice cream.

Coming in at somewhere around 18 percent butterfat, the Creamery’s is clearly more dense than commercially produced ice creams, which also include a lot of mixed in air, which acts as a filler of sorts, making those ice creams lower in calories, but often also less vibrant in flavor.

I owe Petaluma Creamery owner Larry Peter, his assistant Molly, and ice cream maker Tanya a special thanks for not only allowing me a tour of their tiny ice cream making facility, but also for supplying us with one of every pint they offer, on the house. If I did not already love their ice cream, that kind of generosity certainly would raise their stock in my eyes.

Unfortunately, by the time we made it to LaLa’s Creamery, we were running short on funds, but made sure to get a pint of their vanilla, which rated quite high in our vanilla challenge.

Of special note is the only non-locally produced ice cream in our tasting. Juan Gutierrez, owner of Quinua, introduced me to Lucuma ice cream last year, and I have not stopped craving it since. It is definitely in my top five favorite flavors, being a cross between caramel and coffee.

When choosing flavors, I started with every vanilla available from each producer, because they have to have a good vanilla in order to have any kind of ice cream street cred.

The winners? Well, there were definitely cartons we kept returning to, but all the Petaluma producers make excellent ice cream, which is what one should expect from a town so well known for its dairy industry.

We started with just the vanillas, which all did well. Although Fru-ta and Straus seemed to be the favorites, I would not kick a single vanilla, French vanilla, or vanilla bean out of my freezer.

My personal favorite did not change from Petaluma Creamery’s Toffee Crunch, although some of the new flavors we tried certainly gave it a run for its money.

Along with their Toffee Crunch, Petaluma Creamery’s Meyer Lemon and Lavender were also big hits, garnering the most confirmations when I asked my Facebook friends for their favorite Petaluma ice creams. Relying heavily on their rich creamy base, the flavors, which are mixed into each three-gallon batch by hand, by Tanya, are subtle yet sustaining.

Three Twins has some unique flavors, which everyone enjoyed, including Lemon Cookie, Butterscotch Pecan, Banana Nut Confetti, Bittersweet Chocolate and Chocolate Orange Confetti. Two attention grabbers were their Milk Coffee, which beat out all the other coffee flavors, and their Dad’s Cardamom, which makes for a great food-pairing ice cream. We look forward to trying two flavors that I was not able to find in the store, which were Brownie Batter Chunk and Land of Milk & Honey.

Straus was the most consistent across all their flavors. Along with the already mentioned excellent vanilla, we tried their Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream, and Dutch Chocolate. Flavors we missed were their Caramel Toffee and Lemon Gingersnap.

Clover too was very solid, offering two different lines of ice cream - one organic, and one regular. The coffee lovers were excited to try the French Press flavor, but being well trained to reject coffee grounds, it was hard to get over the ground texture in this one. But the flavor was excellent.

Although Fru-ta’s Rose Petal was a bit too soapy for all, the rest of their flavors were real hits, including their vanilla, tequila, and as odd as it sounds, their Cotija cheese ice cream. We were also impressed with the huge number of ice cream and fruit bars, and dipped strawberry and dipped banana offerings.

Last, but not least, was Mariposa Ice Creamery, which likely is the most fancy, yet least expensive of the bunch. Their Peanut Butter Pretzel and Etude Brandy infused Caramel were hits. But one of the clear standouts of the evening, was the Spicy Mexican Chocolate, which had hints of cinnamon and drew its heat from cayenne pepper, which is flavorful back of the throat heat, as opposed to most peppers which burn your tongue from front to back.

Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the happily crowded LaLa’s Creamery, prefer the relaxing hum of activity at Petaluma Creamery, or simply enjoy a pint on your back patio, Petaluma’s ice cream choices are clearly the cream of the crop.

From a plethora of vanillas, to ice cream sandwiches, to flavors you never would have dreamed of, there is a pint for every person and palette.

Where to find them

Petaluma Creamerypetalumacreamerycheeseshop.comThree Twinsthreetwinsicecream.comStraus Family Creamerystrausfamilycreamery.comLaLa's Creamerylalascreamery.comClover Sonomacloversonoma.comFru-tafru-ta.comMariposa Ice Creameryfacebook.com/Mariposa-Ice-Creamery-426491960759440

621 Western Ave, Petaluma

134 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma

Plaza North Petaluma

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