Pumphouse Creamery: I Scream For Local Ice Cream

pump-logo Tucked quietly beside Turtle Bread near the corner of 48th and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Pumphouse Creamery doesn't really scream for ice cream; rather, like its owner Barb Zapzalka, Pumphouse wins you over one locally made, organic, scrumptious ice cream scoop - and, as of this spring, one locally made, hearty, 9-grain organic cone - at a time. When Pumphouse opened near my home in 2003, I rushed over for peanut butter chocolate and butter pecan, proudly proclaiming them the best I'd ever eaten. The story of the place is more than perfect. Barb Zapzalka, a successful analyst at a big insurance company, gave up life in the fast lane for the chance to create and serve homemade, organic ice cream. Barb's sister and brother-in-law supply summer berries for certain flavors. The milk comes from Crystal Ball Farm in the St. Croix Valley.

Sorbet flavors are available as the seasons and harvests pump-coneallow. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream with local peanut butter (made in Coon Rapids, MN) and sea salt. By all accounts, Barb is a bit of an extremist when it comes to local, organic ingredients. If there's a berry in your ice cream, it came from a local farm. If there's candy in your ice cream, it was made by a local candy maker. If there's maple syrup in your ice cream, Barb can probably identify the tree that was tapped to produce it.

Pumphouse Creamery serves about 20 flavors, many of them rotating based on what's seasonal. My favorite (and by far the most popular, according to the handout I've got) is sea salt, caramel, and praline pecans. (Is it made with cream, or is that butter? It's oh, so creamy.) Here are a few others:

  • Kulfi, a local version of the Indian ice cream featuring rosewater and cardamom
  • Banana, made from organic, fair trade bananas
  • Malt chocolate with handmade brownies, featuring brownies from Minneapolis' Fireroast Mountain Cafe.
  • Coffee, made from City Kid Java coffee beans

A quick warning - the ice cream at Pumphouse doesn't tend to be as sweet as ice cream from other places, and the flavors tend to be a bit more subtle. Chocolate and caramel sauces are available, but in their more rich, buttery, homemade forms, not what you'd get from a can. There are no sprinkles. Cones are homemade, and the bottoms have holes. Ice cream sodas (and root beer floats!) are made from a terrific selection of bottled brews in the case. The seating is limited to a single table and the window ledge inside, with several benches outside. And on a nice day, there's often a line out the door. People are willing to stand and wait.

My kids love the place at least as much as I do, and they don't care beans about what's local, sustainable, or organic (as I've mentioned in the past). The ice cream is simply, and most importantly, delicious. If you go, chances are very good you'll see not only Barb, who works there most days, but me too. I somehow seem to end up at Pumphouse at least once a week. Pumphouse Creamery is Located at: 4754 Chicago Avenue South Minneapolis, MN (612) 825-2021