Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Dec 19, 2012 07:34 PM

artisan ice cream in Boston?

Hello Boston Chowhounders! My family recently relocated to the Cambridge area from the SF Bay Area and I am seeking some high quality ice cream. Creative flavors are nice but what I am really after is fresh ice cream that doesn't have weird fillers in it. Many people have recommended Toscanini's but according to the ingredient list on their cartons at Whole Foods it has some kind of gum product added to it. I've enjoyed "Batch" which meets these criteria but would love some other local options. Any ice cream shops out there (along the lines of Bi-Rite, Ici and Mr&Mrs Misc. in the SF area, or the Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ)I should try?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. This isn't strictly to the point, but ...

      Use of a gum as a gelling or thickening agent in ice-cream isn't necessarily an indication that the product is an example of industrial chemistry that bears no resemblance to real ice-creams that are based on creme anglaise.

      Not all industrial techniques have the sole purpose of reducing costs: gums, glucose syrups, etc can actually improve the product (with those examples, to improve the texture or inhibit formation of ice crystals). Techniques used by modernist chefs often have their origins in industrial food manufacturing and preparation, and we celebrate their use by chefs; when used by an industrial manufacturer, they're no less beneficial.

      If the full list of Toscanini's ingredients resembles the below (a Unilever product), then certainly it is probably better not to eat it; otherwise, try it and see whether you like it.

      Dairy ingredients (reconstituted buttermilk and/or skim milk, whey powder)(cream and/or milkfat), cane sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil, glucose syrup (from wheat, contains preservative 220), peanuts, cocoa, emulsifiers (471, soybean lecithin), vegetable gums (412, 410, 407, 401), gelatine, salt, flavours, colour (160b), malt extract (from barley).

      1. Besides Toscanini's, there's Christina's in Inman Square. There's no shortage of great ice cream in the area -- Richardson's, JP Licks, Emack & Bolio's.

        If all else fails, you can find Jeni's Ice Cream (winner of the "Best Ice Cream in America") at several shops in the area.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Boston_Otter

          I'd put Rancatore's Christina's and Toscanini's a step above Richardson's, JP Licks, Emack & Bolio's, though I like them all.

          Not sure what "artisan" ice cream would be. You're just dumping cream, salt and ice into a machine. Does using a hand crank make it an "artisanal" technique?

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Where can Jeni's be found in the area? I don't think I've seen it? Thanks

            1. re: catsmeow

              Is that the ice cream from Columbus, OH? I think I saw it at Formaggio. Or was it Pemberton? One of those places. They're close to each other, so if it's not at Formaggio, swing over to Pemberton! Or, just call them, I guess.

              1. re: Alcachofa

                Jeni's is definitely at Formaggio and definitely not cheap.
                Graeter's is good too, available at Whole Foods.

                1. re: rknrll

                  I've had the latter one. It is very good.

          2. I don't know the ingredient list but Picco in the South End makes incredible ice cream -- really pure flavors (their coffee and cinnamon flavors come to mind).

            1. Nothing quite like Batch here - that stuff sounds like the bomb.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Isn't Batch made in JP? I tried a few pints a few years ago. The flavors were a bit too muted for my taste. Although the flavors seemed promising, they didn't deliver, especially for the price.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    The texture of HS's product just doesn't hold up compared to Tosci's. I'm sure you can make equally smooth and creamy ice cream that would be a worthy competitor without the use of nondairy/egg ingredients, but you'd have to handle it differently than they do at HS.