Sweet Southern Treats: Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream


Story by Amanda Wells

Photos by Rory Doyle, rorydoylephoto.com

Souther Summers call for sweet treats that beat the heat. 

Well, we’ve got one for you, straight out of the Mississippi Delta. Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream company is decidedly Southern – in name, in service and in origin. Sweet potatoes grown in Mississippi soil, sweet tea flavored like your mama’s big jug, blackberries like you picked as a kid – these flavors and more will make your summertime the sweetest yet.

In an effort to keep his three children cool and happy, Hugh Balthrop of Clarksdale, Mississippi, tried his hand at making ice cream. The kids didn’t object, so he started serving up his creamy concoctions to friends. “This started my quest to learn as much as I possibly could about ice cream,” says Hugh. “I started searching the web and purchased every book that I could get my hands on. My web search led me to taking a course at Penn State University, called Ice Cream 101, where I learned about the science behind ice cream making. This is also where I learned about the different commercial ice cream machines, or batch freezers. It was in this course that I initially learned about gelato, the Italian term for ice cream.”

Hugh then made his way to the French Pastry School in Chicago, where he eagerly learned the art of making gelato. “I purchased a tabletop gelato maker and started making gelato in my home kitchen,” he remembers. Soon, local restaurants in Clarksdale were receiving samples of gelato in exchange for their honest opinions and constructive criticism.

Hugh took the feedback and perfected his recipe and Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream was born. “Over the years, we have honed our skills,” he says. “We now start off with local, organic milk and cream from Brown Family Dairy in Oxford, Mississippi. What sets our products apart from the competition is that we use less sugar, less fat and less air. We are truly an artisan, small batch, locally-source ice cream company.” In addition to his dairy products, Hugh also gets honey, sorghum, pecans, blackberries, blueberries and more from local sources.


“We have over 200 flavors in our arsenal, which is one of the areas where we really shine. We make traditional Italian flavors like Pistachio, Hazelnut, Espresso and Stracciatella. But we also love putting a Southern twist on gelato, like with our Whiskey and Pecans, Banana Pudding, Delta Gravel, Miss Mary’s Pound Cake, Sweet Tea Sorbet and Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet.”

“For me, ice cream is all about real flavor from natural and local ingredients,” explains Hugh. “This is where the passion is for me, and we all know ice cream brings out the kid in everyone.”

Treat your taste buds with these flavors and more at select Whole Foods Market locations; McDade’s Market in Jackson, Mississippi; Rainbow Co-Op in Jackson, Mississippi; and locations throughout the Mississippi Delta and Memphis, Tennessee.

For the Jackson, Mississippi metro area, Matthew Manning has teamed up with Hugh to offer delivery of Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream by the pint directly to consumers through his business, Sweet Life, LLC. Matthew takes orders via phone or text at 601.209.8322.

Learn more about Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream at sweetmagnoliaicecream.com.

Watch these tasty treats come to life…