By 9 a.m. on a recent morning in May, several generations of Prigels are already busy with the process of making ice cream. Robert Prigel, 79, is pushing a broom along the 10,000-square-foot creamery floors. His wife, Carol, 75, stands in a workroom and puts labels on empty quart ice cream containers.
Their son, Bobby, 49, and his son-in-law, Kelvin Castillo, 26, are making a white mix to which flavors will be added. Some days, they make a chocolate mix as well.
Grunting with the weight, they unload a farm truck containing 10 plastic buckets, each holding 6.5 gallons of pale yellow milk from this morning's milking. Jersey cows don't digestbeta-carotene, so the color is passed on in their milk, Bobby Prigel says.
Before starting the creamery, the two men took a course at Penn State to learn the science of ice cream. They then came home and experimented with recipes.
"The milk is the most important ingredient," said Castillo as he poured it into a stainless steel container. "If you have good milk, you'll have a good product. That's why people love our ice cream. It all starts with our milk."
They add whipping cream, granulated sugar, nonfat powdered milk, egg yolks and stabilizer. The 130-gallon batch sits overnight and is pasteurized.
The next day, Bobby Prigel is out delivering ice cream to several Graul's Markets while Castillo works with yet another family member — Mott Connell, 17, whose grandmother was Bobby Prigel's aunt.
Their task is to add flavors to the white mix. They look like twins — each wears a white lab coat, white rubber boots and net over a Prigel Family Creamery cap. They feed the mix into a machine that homogenizes and freezes it.
The two men pour dark brown syrup into the mix for Café Latte. The Cappuccino Chip ice cream gets scoops of chocolate and toffee chips. Some ingredients, like cherries and peanut butter, are stirred in by hand.
As soon as the mix freezes into a soft-serve consistency, Castillo holds a quart container under the spigot and lets it flow.
In a blur of motion, he turns the spigot off just as the ice cream reaches the top of the container, slaps the quart onto a stainless steel table, grabs another container and repeats the process.
Connell stands at the ready, slipping cardboard tops onto the quarts and placing them in an adjacent freezer kept at minus-20 degrees. This week, the two men will churn out 500 gallons.
The Prigels hope to buy equipment to make their own yogurt and butter. But banks are hesitant to loan them money, Bobby Prigel said, until two lawsuits against them are settled.
The Long Green Community Association is fighting a 2008 ruling by Baltimore County Deputy Zoning Commission Thomas Bostwick that allowed a farmer's roadside stand on Prigels' agriculturally zoned land. He also granted Prigels' special exception request to operate a farm market.
The other lawsuit, bought by nearby farmers Susan and John Yoder, deals with Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, which purchased easements Prigels' 180 acres in 1996. The Yoders contend preserved land cannot be used for commercial purposes.
So for now, the Prigels keep churning out ice cream. Seeing kids running around outside with chocolate ice cream mustaches makes the long days worth it.
Ice cream and more
The creamery offers the standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, as well as flavors like chocolate almond coconut, mint chocolate chip and chocolate peanut butter.
It also sells cups, cones, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and cookies and milk. Family member Sarah Connell, 24, makes and delivers homemade cookies every day.
Bobby Prigel's father, Robert has a display of wooden bowls for sale that he creates from downed trees on the property.
And there are Bobby's three sisters who help stock the creamery store. Susan Opdahl and her husband, David, bring in eggs from their free-range chickens and sisters Ann Childs and Carrie Prigel provide handmade soaps.
Bobby Prigel's daughter, Mandy Castillo, 24, is in charge of event planning and has lined up Night at the Creamery, an art exhibit, music and free food on June 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as a Local Flavor Night with live music and food on May 25, also from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bobby's wife, Pam, will work at those events, as well as others her daughter schedules.
"We have found tremendous treasure by working together in the creamery. There are 40 family members living within a mile of here," Bobby Prigel says. "We know we lose a lot of business being closed on Sunday. But that's our family day. And family is what counts."
Prigel Family Creamery is located at 4852 Long Green Road. It is open Monday-Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. For details, call 410-510-7488 or go to http://www.prigelfamilycreamery.net.