Thursday, July 4, 2013

REVIEW: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla

To commemorate The Ice Cream Informant’s second time celebrating July 4th, I’ve chosen another American classic to review. July 4th, 2012 brought us a review of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream, but for 2013, I’ve decided to stick with something more traditional.


After trying over 25 different flavors from Blue Bell over the past year, I realized that I had yet to try their pride and joy: Homemade Vanilla. A reader of mine had sent a few emails suggesting I scoop Blue Bell’s best seller, so when I saw a pint available for under two dollars, I finally pulled the trigger. According to their website, Homemade Vanilla is, “Our most popular ice cream and with good reason. It’s rich, homemade tasting vanilla ice cream with a special hand-cranked flavor that’s the best in the country.” Staking a claim for the country’s best vanilla ice cream isn’t something that should be taken lightly and I can imagine companies like Graeter’s, Jeni’s and even Ben & Jerry’s might have something to say. Regardless of my bias towards super-premium ice cream, I decided to give Blue Bell’s premium version the benefit of the doubt.


Unlike many of the other heavier vanilla options available, Homemade Vanilla contains only 160 calories per serving or a little over 600 calories for the entire pint. With the gold lid removed, the manila colored first layer lacks the specks of vanilla bean you’d expect from a pint featuring vanilla and free of any other mix-ins. The density of Blue Bell’s ice cream is pretty consistent across their entire lineup and this is no different. The base is more substantial than low-fat ice cream, but has a fluffier feel than the heavier, high-butterfat options mentioned in the previous paragraph. Despite the lack of super-premium consistency, the effectiveness of the flavors is undeniable.


As an ice cream traditionalist, I’ve grown to appreciate simplicity in ice cream and Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla embodies this. Even though the flavors aren’t overly complicated, the subtle sweetness released as the ice cream melts down can certainly compete with its super premium counterparts. I thought I’d quickly grow tired of the monotony, but I continuously found myself going back for another bite. Although I wasn’t able to give this an A without the assistance of any mix-ins, Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla had no problem holding its own.


Where I Found It: Ingles Markets
Grade: B

16 comments:

  1. I've noticed Blue Bell have three standard vanilla flavors: this, French Vanilla and Natural Vanilla Bean. I personally love the latter, but all of them taste great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah they have a few different variations. I'm always curious as to which they use when they just describe the base in some of their flavors as "vanilla" considering they have a few different varieties in their arsenal.

      Delete
    2. I'm pretty sure they use this one since it seems to show up the most in stores (around here at least). It'd probably be easier to pick out a French Vanilla taste and I've only ever seen Natural Vanilla Bean in the half-gallon size, which might be their way of saving money since my guess is the "natural," more simplistic ingredients would cost more. Just my guess.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I'm not completely sure either. I would love to get some clarification from anyone that actually knows.

      Delete
  2. So glad to see you finally review this. Maybe it's because I grew up with it and there is a certain nostalgia associated with it, but I have always loved Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla. It is perfect for topping warm brownies, cakes, pies, or adding your own mix ins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed all around. I had a reader that was avid about me adding this up and I finally decided to take him up on it.

      I'm glad I did too. Considering it's a B all on it's own, add it to a brownie, cake or pie and you're in for a real treat.

      Delete
  3. Mix-ins are overrated. I know the rating system is posted, and some base only are probably given As. But to say you didn't give it an A because of mix-ins rather than just saying other flavors are better is just something that annoys me. Each their own sure, but a mix-in bias for or against is sure to annoy some.

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    Replies
    1. The base only flavors that receive A's from me are better than Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla. That's why I gave them an A and not a B.

      Delete
    2. Like I said I am sure the other flavors were better and that is fine. I just would have been happier had you said it just isn't as good as other flavors. They weren't trying to create a mix-in flavor, so I feel it shouldn't have been brought up.

      I would have liked these fruit loops more if they tasted more like honey nut cheerios is essentially what I read.

      Nothing against you obviously. I just didn't like that thought process.

      Delete
    3. I see where you're coming from. Honestly, it's getting hard to rate all these different ice creams on the same scale. The A-F grading scale is just to keep things simple. Comparing super premium ice creams to low fat options, base only offerings and gelatos isn't easy.

      Delete
  4. Do you Castoreum is an ingredient? Supposedly it is used in a lot of vanilla products. If you are not familiar with this, just Google it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ice Cream quality is 80% of "Butterfat" Content. While BB is "good" it is not nearly the best! This Ice Cream does have attributes such as quntity per container, Density of ice cream (Not all air in it) and is a bit overpriced for its actual quality but not by much......
    My "Buttered Pecan" did not have a Buttery flavor , nor did it have a full pecan in it unlike my actual store brand does and store brand is much cheaper in price and has whole pecans and a rich Buttery Flavor...
    BB has a Vanilla with Strwberries that rules though.. Get Butter Pecan up to "Snuff"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Natural Vanilla Bean is a superior product. In general, there are ice creams that are richer in butterfat content -- some of that is due to the type of milk produced by dairy breeds suited to southern climate -- but Blue Bell's flavor specialists are among the best in the industry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I see that your original post was in 2013. Do you happen to have a record of the ingredients list at that time? Since the return of Blue Bell to our stores, we are convinced that it is different than before, & that there are ingredients that didn't used to be there. We were pretty sure there were only 4 or 5 natural ingredients in the original one.

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  8. I forgot to check the Notify box before sending my other comment.

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  9. Patricia, the Bluebell Vanilla that only has 4 or 5 natural ingredients is their Natural Vanilla Bean. The Homemade Vanilla has always had an inferior ingredient list (artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup AND corn syrup, cellulose gum, carrageenan, and annatto color).

    Here are the Homemade Vanilla ingredients from a web post dated
    Mar 6, 2006:
    Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Natural and Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Cellulose Gum, Vegetable Gums (Guar, Carrageenan, Carob Bean), Salt, Annatto Color.

    Here are the Natural Vanilla Bean ingredients:
    Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Natural Vanilla Beans, Natural Vegetable Gums (Guar, Carob Bean) 

    As far as the question about Castoreum, you will never see Castoreum on an ingredient list; it's hidden under "natural flavors".

    ReplyDelete

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