It was 1985 when Brooklyn-bred, New Jersey-reared Jane Keller abandoned fancy restaurant kitchens to open a cozy Phoenicia café serving, among other things, homemade ice cream. At that time, her sister, Amy, took a hiatus from the hotel-management world to join her in the Hudson Valley. Thirty years later, Amy and her husband, Robert Guidubaldi, have transformed Jane’s Ice Cream (Jane left to become a teacher) into a wildly popular Kingston-based wholesale operation that churns out creamy, robustly flavored confections to establishments throughout the tri-state area and beyond, including the Beacon Creamery and the Wallkill View Farm Market. The pair ditched their Kingston storefront in 2005, but continue to be a popular fixture at the Kingston Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. As Jane’s Ice Cream approaches its momentous 30-year anniversary, Amy — in the midst of perfecting a new, super-secret Birthday Bash flavor for the occasion — gives us the scoop on the beloved family-run biz.
Where did the Keller sisters first get their love of ice cream?
Our grandfather started a chocolate syrup brand for egg creams, and our dad and his two brothers took over the business, making and distributing high-end niche products. Although we didn’t join the company, ice cream was always a big part of our lives, so Jane’s was a natural evolution.
How did those ice-cream cakes become so iconic?
We started making the house special — layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry with chocolate chips on the side, cookies on the bottom, and fudge on top — for family celebrations. Once you have one, it’s like a chain reaction. Soon, everyone started calling to order cakes. We think people love them because they are especially dense.
Jane’s crafts more than 80 flavors of ice cream. What are some favorites that will never go away?
The Killer Chocolate, Cappuccino Kahlua Caylypso, Coconut Almond Joy, and Vanilla Bean are all top sellers. Some of my own favorites are more unusual, like Apricot Orange Blossom and the Seeduction with toasted sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds in vanilla ice cream.
What do you think makes your ice creams stand out from the pack?
Our flavors are extremely bold. Everything is made in small batches, so we have a hands-on approach that allows us to be consistent. We’ve never cut corners.
Jane’s Ice Cream uses quality ingredients from the Hudson Valley (and maybe a little dash of fun) to make their frozen treats
In addition to using quality ingredients like milk from New York State cows and whole fruit, you embrace Hudson Valley purveyors whenever possible.
Yes. For example, we source currants for our beautiful royal purple-swirled Currants & Cream from Crop Pharms in Staatsburg. We also had a flavor that incorporated crumb cake from Deising’s Bakery [in Kingston].
Any big celebrations to mark this year’s major milestone?
On July 18, we’ll be at the Kingston Farmers’ Market giving away ice cream and letting folks make their own sundaes with ingredients supplied by Kingston Candy Bar. There will be street performers and costumed characters, but mostly it will be fun. The ice cream business is a pretty happy one to be in. Everybody smiles.
Love locally made ice cream? Try cooling off with one of these other artisanal Hudson Valley creations:
Greenfield Ice Cream
So passionate about the good stuff are the folks at Tuxedo-based Greenfield Ice Cream that they transformed their company into a New York State-certified dairy. Here, they pasteurize their own base of real cream, milk, eggs, and sugar, which spawns such rich flavors as Salted Caramel, Cinnamon, and PB’n Chip. These custardy French-style pints (which will set you back $7.99 at upscale retail stores) also embrace organic herbs and spices. Hosting a big bash? Skip the cake and serve up their perfectly sized ice cream “Party Cups,” complete with little wooden spoons. www.greenfieldicecream.com
After a career in accounting and finance, Paul Nasrani succumbed to youthful memories of ice cream savored at the Silver Bay Store on Lake George and started Adirondack Creamery at that very fabled spot. Later, he joined forces with Kingston-based Boice Bros. Dairy, where his team makes all-natural flavors including U-Pick ’Em Chocolate Cherry Chip, Caramel Apple, and Kulfi Pistachio Cardamom with fresh, hormone-free milk from local farms. www.adirondackcreamery.com