Sweet Willows Creamery owner Brent Lebouitz pours a vanilla ice cream mixture into a mixer while demonstrating his craft last month to a Golden Age Group
Sweet Willows Creamery owner Brent Lebouitz pours a vanilla ice cream mixture into a mixer while demonstrating his craft last month to a Golden Age Group from Quickel Lutheran Church. Seniors from the Conewago church group took advantage of the factory tour offered by the creamery. (Bill Kalina photo)

Gloria Martz watched as milk, cream and sugar were mixed, and she had one question.

"Is there real rum in the rum raisin ice cream?" she said.

Brent Lebouitz, owner of Sweet Willows Creamery, assured her there was not.

Martz is a member of Quickel Lutheran Church's Golden Age Group, which toured the York Township creamery in May.

She and 17 other members got an up-close look at how the creamery's ice cream is made at 2812 East Prospect Road.

The Emery Thompson churning machine made in the Bronx, N.Y., works much like the old hand-crank ice cream makers, Lebouitz told the group. Both the machine and hand-crank system use dasher blades to make the ice cream.

Quickel members Joyce Murphy of Mount Wolf, left, and Gloria Martz of Manchester Township share a laugh during the presentation.
Quickel members Joyce Murphy of Mount Wolf, left, and Gloria Martz of Manchester Township share a laugh during the presentation. (Bill Kalina photo)

The difference is found in the time and volume. It would take 25 minutes with the hand-crank maker to produce ice cream in a one-gallon bucket, and the machine produces 10 gallons in 12 to 14 minutes.

To begin making the ice cream, Lebouitz starts with about 6 gallons of mix, made with milk from Pennsylvania dairy cows. The mix is an unflavored blend of milk, cream and sugar.

The flavors: Sweet Willows sells 30 flavors at a time, and most of them have an artisan flair, such as lavender, chocolate lovers peanut butter and Tahitian vanilla grapenut yogurt and wild Maine blueberry.

On the day the Golden Age Group toured, Lebouitz made a basic vanilla bean. But he promised it was anything but boring and ordinary.

He uses a 100-percent pure Madagascar bourbon vanilla -- a mix that costs $75 to $85 a gallon.

"This is what makes it so good," he said.

Lebouitz also adds in exhausted vanilla beans, which provide an aesthetic benefit but offer no flavor.

While waiting for the flavors to marry together, he talked about the invention of the ice cream cone in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair, how to preserve ice cream in the freezer without getting a build-up of ice and the history of his business.

"Toughest" part of the job: Lebouitz opened Sweet Willows Creamery 10 years ago for a very simple reason.

"Ice cream always makes you happy," he said.

As the finished product started to pour from the machine, tourists of the facility were indeed happy.

Using a spoon to taste-test the vanilla bean ice cream, Lebouitz joked that taste-testing was "the toughest part of the job."

Once he was sure the ice cream was the right consistency, he filled small bowls for members of the Golden Age Group.

"I loved this trip," Martz said. "It's so fun to learn new things. My large mouth asks a lot of questions."

Other visitors will soon have a chance to ask Lebouitz many more questions.

Upcoming tours: Sweet Willows is a new stop on York County's annual Made in America Tours, which will be held Wednesday, June 19, through Saturday, June 22.

New Grounds Roasting Co. and Walk-Le Holsteins Dairy Farm are also new to the event this year, which gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at nearly 30 businesses across the county that touts itself as the "factory tour capital of the world," according to Allison Freeman, spokeswoman for the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Because many of the tours are free, it's hard to gauge the economic impact of the event, she said.

The tours are typically well-attended by both local and out-of-town guests and offer an inexpensive way to spend a day learning about companies in York County, Freeman said.

"It's definitely one of our biggest events of the year," she said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.

Made in America Tours:

Free Factory Tours:

George's Furniture Inc., 9 Reichs Church Road, Marietta; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Martin's Potato Chips Inc., 5847 Lincoln Highway West, Thomasville; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday

New Grounds Roasting Co., 284 W. Market St., York; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Revonah Pretzel, 507 Baltimore St. (rear), Hanover; 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Sonnewald Natural Foods, 4796 Lehman Road, Spring Grove; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Sunrise Soap Co., 29 N. Beaver St., York; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; evening tours available by appointment

Utz Quality Foods, Inc., 900 High St., Hanover; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday

Weldon Solutions, 425 E. Berlin Road, York; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday

Wolfgang Candy Co., 50 E. Fourth St., York; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to noon Friday

York County Solid Waste Authority/York County Resource Recovery Center, 2651 Blackbridge Road, York; 10 a.m. Thursday

York Time Institute LLC, 312 W. Market St., York; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

York Wallcoverings Home Design Center, 201 Carlisle Ave., York; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday

Factory Tours with a Fee:

Bluett Bros. Violins, 122 Hill St., York; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, $5

Miss Lucy's Dog Treats, 5241 N. Salem Church Road, Dover; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, $1

Perrydell Farm and Dairy, 90 Indian Rock Dam Road, York; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, $5.50

Sweet Willows Creamery, 2812 E. Prospect Road, York Township; 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, $5 (includes fresh ice cream)

Walk-Le Holsteins, 6898 Oak Lane, Thomasville; 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday to possibly help feed a baby calf; $5

Free Attractions:

Indian Steps Museum, 205 Indian Steps Road, Airville; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Shoppe American Made, 55 W. Canal St., Dover; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Wallace-Cross Mill, 15759 Cross Mill Road, Felton, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday

York Barbell Company, 3300 Board Road, York, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

Sovereign Bank Stadium/York Revolution Baseball, 5 Brooks Robinson Way, York; 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday

Attractions with a Fee:

Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village, 1258 Muddy Creek Forks Rd., Airville; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Adults $5; Children $3

National Watch & Clock Museum, 514 Poplar St., Columbia; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Adults $8; Seniors $7; Group rate $5

York County Heritage Trust Agricultural & Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, $5

Free Winery Tours:

Adams County Winery, 251 Peach Tree Road, Orrtanna; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

Winery Tours with a Fee:

Naylor Wine Cellars, 4069 Vineyard Road, Stewartstown; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, $3 for tasting