The inside scoop: 3 of Devon’s best frozen dessert makers

Bye bye Mr Whippy. These Devon frozen dessert makers are showing us how to create something a little bit different and delicious

1. Delphini’s Gelato

Forget chintzy British seaside ice cream parlours, Delphini’s in Totnes is a much more artisan affair. This cute emporium on Fore Street knocks out all kinds of delicious gelato, freshly made each day. Owner Johan’s ethos is to make the business as sustainable as possible. Many of his ingredients are sourced within a five-mile radius, and at least three of the flavours are entirely plant-based.

“We have vegan and gluten free waffle cones. We use only 100% biodegradable tubs, spoons and take-home containers,” explains Johan. Rather than class themselves as ‘ice cream makers’, where milk is the main ingredient, Johan prefers to be called a gelato maker.

Great gelato can contain milk and cream, but need not,” he says. “People who don’t identify as vegan often try our vegan gelati and find it tastes as good or even better than the milk-based ones. We simply want to create the best gelato we can, and much of it happens to be vegan. This reflects the preferences of our customers, especially in Totnes, and the way our society’s values are developing.”

When it comes to flavour, Belgian  Chocolate, Amarena Cherry and Sicilian Pistachio have been bestsellers from day one, while the Dark Belgian Chocolate (vegan) is also flying out the door. “It’s just the richest and smoothest Cioccolato Fondente this side of Turin,” says Johan.

2. Dartington Dairy 

Jon and Lynne Perkins took on the tenancy of the Old Parsonage Farm on the Dartington Estate back in 2015. Since then, they’ve founded Dartington Dairy and have a herd of over 180 goats, producing milk which is made into small batches of yoghurt, kefir and ice cream.

“Our ice cream is lower in fat and lactose and more easily digested than cows’ milk ice cream, which makes it a great alternative for people with a dairy intolerance or sensitive tummies,” explains Lynne.

In-keeping with Dartington’s ethos of ethical farming, all the goats are kept with the nanny until natural weaning and are free-range. “We aim to share our passion for ethical farming and high animal welfare with consumers looking for premium quality dairy products,” says Lynne. Dartington Dairy offers milking experiences and you can even sign up to be a farmer for a day, but, if you’d prefer to forego the hard work and just consume the produce, crowd-pleasing flavours include Gin, Elderflower and Honeycomb and Dark Belgium Chocolate. Stockists include Darts Farm, Lifton Farm Shop and Ben’s Farm Shop.

3 Salcombe Dairy

Salcombe Dairy has pedigree, having been knocking out artisan ice cream for a whopping 40 years. Still based on Island Street in Salcombe, they’re famous for their ice cream, premium vegan sorbets, luxury frozen yoghurts and last year launched a bean-to-bar Peruvian chocolate range, all of which are made using only the finest natural ingredients.

“The factory is entirely nut, gluten, egg, palm oil and artificial colour and flavouring free. Everything we make is 100% natural. That’s probably why our customers have been asking for our ice cream for the past 40 years,” says owner Dan Bly, who runs the business with his wife, Lucia.

Salcombe Dairy now makes over 50 flavours, using milk straight from the same local farm the guys have used from the beginning. “We’re exceptionally proud to still use the same base ice cream recipe created back in 1979, with only the best ingredients added, such as Arabica coffee and Alphonso mangoes,” says Dan. Popular flavours include Honeycomb, which Dan reckons has “achieved almost a cult fan base”, and Alphonso Mango sorbet. Stockists include Darts Farm,The Shops at Dartington and National Trust properties across Devon.