Ice cream inspired by the Aran Mountains

29 July 2015

At the heart of the Aran mountains in the tranquil magical setting of Rhydybod farm Llanuwchllyn, super creamy, tasty ice cream is being churned and once it has tantalized your taste buds you must be warned you will be hooked.

What makes this ice cream so special says the owner Karen Bisby is the amount of double cream in each recipe and Karen travels weekly to Tomlinsons Dairies in Wrexham to collect. Tomlinsons support small Welsh dairy producers and it's this cream combined with the homemade recipes prepared at Rhydybod Farm like gooseberry and ginger and homemade ingredients like honeycomb is what makes the ice cream so unique and special.

So far there are 14 different flavours with more on the way.  They have been a big hit with people around the Bala area since being available through local shops from April this year.

Inspiration for the name of the ice-cream came from the Aran mountain range overlooking the farm, Hufen ia Aran Ice cream and as Karen prepares all the ice cream and different flavors in her own farmhouse kitchen she has fantastic views of the Aran range.

New flavors are being introduced every week to the Aran ice cream menu, and local friends and farmers in the area are overjoyed to being stopped on the road to try and to give their opinion on a new addition.

“They are my official testers” says Karen

Karen and her husband John first saw Rhyd y bod farm in 2007 during a visit to see family at Furnace near Machynlleth.

“We couldn't believe how beautiful and special the area was” says Karen. The 400year old small working grade 2 listed hill farm was in need of renovation and for three years the couple travelled backwards and forwards from Yorkshire to Llanuwchllyn renovating their new home. Moving into a caravan on site and then the house in 2010.

Originally from Derbyshire Karen fell in love with the farmhouse in Wales.

“I literally fell in love with the place the moment I set eyes on it.”

 She was made redundant in 2012 from a long career in the civil service and she had to think of a career change.

“For the the first time in my life I had some time to think about what I should do next. I needed to generate some income and as importantly wanted to do something that contributed to the local community.

“Making and selling ice cream to the hot and weary summer cyclists and walkers who passed the farm seemed a good idea. So I set about developing recipes. The following summer in addition to selling at the farm gate I started to sell the ice cream at Dolgellau and Dinas Mawddwy farmers markets and to holiday makers staying on a local holiday park.

“I try and keep the recipes simple and free of additives and preservatives says Karen. “There's always been a tradition of baking at the farm. The lady of the house before me was Mrs Catrin Jones she lived here up until the 1980s. She was a good cook and won a lot of local awards for her butter and bread. I like to think that i’m keeping the Rhydybod cooking tradition alive and that Catrin would be proud of the ice cream,” says Karen.

Karen’s ice cream is available to buy from TJ Roberts butchers and delicatessen, Gorwelion café, Llanuwchllyn garage and steam railway station, the Eagles, and Mary Jones world.

Unique to other ice cream producers, Karen has also bought two ice cream bikes and is hoping to expand her business by being a regular visitor to events in the area.

“I would love to expand and offer ice cream at events and weddings and moving forward we hope to offer a personalised service where people can hire a bike for special occasions, parties and weddings and have their favourite ice creams personolised made especially for them on their special day.”

Welsh learner Karen enjoys being her own boss and is up at the crack of dawn enjoying her new venture.

“I’m having new ideas for flavors every day and I love experimenting. Two new ideas for this summer season is Strawberry and prosecco range, and something I'm calling mermaid ice cream which is limoncello with the new super food a dried sea weed dressing.

Help to establish the business came from Cywain, a Menter a Busness initiative for farm and food businesses.

Karen said that Alwen Eidda, Development Manager of Cywain took her seriously and her business developed following their valuable advice.

“Cywain has been amazing, we are so lucky to have such a valuable resource.  They have helped me so much by keeping me focussed and helping with practical and useful advice as well as ensuring branding and a bilingual service which is very important to me.”

Alwen Eidda said “Working with Karen has been amazing. I have had a great time, and tasting all the different flavors has been wonderful.”

All visitors at the Royal Welsh Show had the chance to taste and buy this delicious ice cream at the Cywain stand in the Food Hall on Monday at the Royal Welsh Show.

Visitors to the show were glad to hear that Karen had thought of everything,if you fell in love with her ice cream she has also developed a new recipe in response to requests last summer from visitors to the area who wanted to take some ice cream home with them but couldn't because of it melting during the journey.

“The recipe which I've called magic mousse lets people transport it like cream in a cool box and freeze it when they get home.  We will bring some to the show for people to try.”

“We had a great response to the ice cream in the Royal Welsh Show”, she added.

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