LUCEDALE, Miss. (WKRG) — You will find a lot of smiles at Havens Down Home Creamery in Lucedale.
The shop has only been open since the summer, but it’s drawing big crowds that rave about the ice cream.
On the Havens family farm, about 20 minutes outside Lucedale, you will find 30 cows that produce 98 gallons of milk a day. They are the source of the ice cream and other dairy products that Havens makes. And it’s the first step of the production process that sets Havens apart from 99 percent of other ice cream makers around the country.
“We use low-temperature pasteurization,” said Kristen Havens, founder of Havens Down Home Creamery. “The milk is heated to 145 degrees and cooled 30 minutes,” she said explaining that the milk is heated less and cooled off more slowly than during standing pasteurization or homogenization.
Kristen first tried that process 12 years ago, with the one dairy cow she had at the time after her then 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed as lactose intolerant.
“I had an older lady tell me, ‘Honey. It’s not the milk, it’s what they’re doing to it.’ And I thought, ‘hmm,” she said.
Kristen found her daughter could drink the low-temp pasteurized milk and went into business producing it.
“We found out a lot of people were lactose (intolerant), but they could digest our milk.”
And after a couple of years of selling milk, Havens expanded into ice cream.
She now has a couple dozen workers who make 92 different flavors.
Initially, she sold the ice cream directly at the farm. She then opened the store in town where you can get the ice cream dipped or take it to go, along with some milk if you want.
“The ice cream is just awesome and we also keep the milk, the chocolate and white milk,” said Victoria Varner, who describes herself as a loyal Havens customer. “We have three kids and a big family so we’re buying gallons of milk twice a week.”
Kristen said it’s the low-temp pasteurization process, born of necessity, that makes all the difference.
“Whenever you don’t really change the nutrition and leave it at its original state, it’s better,” she said. “It’s just the creamiest.”