homemade teaberry ice cream

Homemade Teaberry Ice Cream

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Teaberry ice cream; it’s a Pennsylvania thing

My absolute favorite flavor of ice cream when I was a kid was Teaberry. My absolute favorite flavor of ice cream five decades later is…Teaberry.

Some things never change and that’s a good thing! Say “teaberry” and in my mind, I am at Heisler’s Dairy Bar in the picturesque Schuylkill County farmland of the Lewistown Valley.

A trip to Heisler’s always involved a cone of teaberry ice cream, a round of miniature golf, and a ride on the fire truck that took adventurous kiddies — and my Dad — through the woods and fields surrounding the Dairy Bar. On special occasions, a trip to the Waffle House for fresh waffles topped with Heisler’s own-made ice cream and fresh fruit toppings was in order. But my old stand by – teaberry ice cream in a CONE – NO DISH for me!!– was never fully out of my mind.

Firetruck at Heisler’s Dairy Bar, circa: 1960s

If you have an ice cream maker, here’s one for you to try to bring back your own memories of PA and the Coal Region, or to start a new batch of fans among members of your family who have never had it before. The teaberry, also known as the checkerberry, boxberry, or American wintergreen, is a small red fruit found throughout the Eastern U.S.

Talking Teaberry

Teaberry is a true taste of The Coal Region; a native plant, an indigenous people’s “medicine”, a chewing gum, and in Pennsylvania — a much beloved ice cream flavor! Listen to my chat with Alfredo Mercuri, host of Coal Region Campfire podcast as we talk all things teaberry.

Homemade Teaberry Ice Cream

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: DessertsCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate

Makes approximately 1 1/2 quarts.


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon teaberry extract

  • 3 drops red food coloring (adding 1 drop blue can give you a more authentic commercially prepared teaberry ice cream color)

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • pinch salt


  • Place 4 cups of ice cubes into a large metal bowl and fill about a third of the way with cold water. Have a mesh strainer over a glass bowl nearby.
  • Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until it just begins to bubble; do not let it boil.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow. Once the milk bubbles, turn off the heat. Stir in the extracts. Take a ladle of warm milk and drip it into the egg yolks. Whisk together. This brings the egg yolks to the milk’s temperature so they won’t curdle when added to the saucepan. Now pour the yolks into the saucepan, turn the heat back to low, and stir with a rubber spatula—scrape the sides of the pan as well. Cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 170 degrees F.
  • Pour the custard into the strainer over the glass bowl. Put the bowl into the ice water. Stir the custard with the spatula until it cools down. Once cool, wipe the bottom of the bowl, cover with plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
  • Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


  • Teaberry flavoring is available at some markets in PA and on the internet.