ROCK ELM, WI – The pretty white church on the hill, Rock Elm United Methodist Church that is in the small rural community of Rock Elm, six miles west of Elmwood, Wisconsin held the third and last of their popular “Homemade Ice Cream Socials” for the 2017 season.
ROCK ELM, WI – The pretty white church on the hill, Rock Elm United Methodist Church that is in the small rural community of Rock Elm, six miles west of Elmwood, Wisconsin held the third and last of their popular “Homemade Ice Cream Socials” for the 2017 season.

ROCK ELM, WI – The pretty white church on the hill, Rock Elm United Methodist Church that is in the small rural community of Rock Elm, six miles west of Elmwood, Wisconsin held the third and last of their popular “Homemade Ice Cream Socials” for the 2017 season.

This was the 123rd year the church has held the socials that offer the signature homemade ice cream that is served ala carte with a sandwich, hog dog or pulled pork, a slice of homemade pie or cake and a beverage. They only missed one the first time in 1918 with the flu epidemic and one other in the late 1940’s due to the polio epidemic. The first recorded Social was in 1894 and back in the day they served crackers with the ice cream.

The Homemade Ice Cream Socials are held on summer Thursday evenings with the serving starting at 5 p.m.; but the events are so popular that when many people arrive early they are given a numbered ticket that assures their place in line. Once a number is secured then one can take a seat up in the church sanctuary or in the churchyard and visit with family, friends and neighbors. Or go around behind the church to the little white wood garage like structure where you can buy an ice cream cone or reserve a pint or quart of the fantastic homemade ice cream to take home.

This is the same building that houses the 2 ten-gallon and 3 5-gallon wooden line-shaft belt-driven ice cream makers, the steam powered pasteurizer and the cold holding tank; and in a separate locked part of the little shed is the wood fired 16 horsepower steam boiler to heat the pasteurizer. The oldest 10-gallon ice cream maker was salvaged from a Maiden Rock, Wisconsin hotel that closed in 1940 and the steam boiler came from a junkyard in Elmwood.

Many of the good folks that work the socials are longtime Rock Elm United Methodist Church members. For some the work starts early on Wednesday morning when a crew gathers to start making the custard that will be the basis for the ice cream.

They start with 20 pounds of whole milk, 10 gallons of heavy cream, 5 gallons of egg yolks and whites and 35 pounds of sugar mixed into the pasteurizer that is brought up to 150 – 160 degrees to pasteurize for 10 minutes.

The mix is then cooled with cold water and transferred to a holding tank.

The crew meets at 7 a.m. (except crew chief Fred Koehler who gets there sooner) the next morning on Thursday and transfers the mix to the wooden ice cream makers where it will be made into the final batches of one of seven flavors. For this last Social it was: Vanilla, Chocolate, Maple, Cherry Nut, Butter Brickell, Lemon and Peppermint. There is a You Tube that you can watch of the whole process.

All totaled they made 105 gallons for this last “Homemade Ice Cream Social” for the 2017 season, with 150 units of it hand packed as quarts and pints of the sweetest, most delicious ice cream you ever tasted on a nice summer evening out in the country in the beautiful old Rock Elm United Methodist Church. Put this annual event on your calendar for the summer of 2018!