Today, ice cream can be found in almost every restaurant and corner store, and there are many, many varieties at supermarkets and even specialty shops dedicated solely to this wonderful treat! However, our ancestors weren’t so lucky; the first ice cream machine was invented in 1846.
Before that, frozen milk or cream desserts were enjoyed as far back as 54 A.D. when Emperor Nero reportedly served cream frozen in snow. Even Alexander the Great was known to enjoy snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. During the 17th century, Marco Polo returned from the Far East with a recipe for a fruity dessert that resembled what we now call sherbet. However, this “creamed ice” was only enjoyed by the very wealthy as ice itself was difficult to obtain and to store.
Ice cream wasn’t made available to the general population until 1660! When the Europeans began moving to what was soon to be America, they brought along a recipe for this dessert. The earliest known advertisement for ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777. Later on, Manufacturing ice cream became a booming industry in America, pioneered in 1851 by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell.
How It’s Made
When commercially produced, ice cream is a mixture of cream and/or milk, sugar and sometimes eggs. Most of the time, some sort of plant gum is also added as a stabilizer to improve the texture. Then the cream mixture is pasteurized - heated up for a certain amount of time time to destroy any potential harmful microorganisms. Through the process of homogenization, solid fat globules are incorporated into the liquids in milk to keep them blended.
Make Ice Cream by Hand
Ice cream is very simple to make, even if you don’t have a machine! You’ll just have to use your hands to agitate the mixture instead. Here’s what you’ll need:
- One small plastic bag
- One large plastic bag (have extra ready!)
- 1 cup of half & half
- ½ cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Lots of ice!
- Towel, optional
Step One: Combine the half and half, sugar and vanilla extract in the smaller bag. Seal it tightly, so that none of the liquid will leak out. This is your cream mixture.
Step Two: Fill the larger bag halfway with ice cubes. Sprinkle your salt over the ice cubes. You may be wondering why we put salt on the ice if we’re not eating it - and it’s for the same reason we put salt on the icy roads in the winter! Adding salt lowers the freezing point of the water, allowing the temperature of the mixture around the ice cream to get colder. Since the ice cream isn’t just water, it needs to be a little below 32°F to freeze.
Step Three: Insert the small bag filled with ingredients into the bag of ice and salt. Seal the large plastic bag. If this bag begins to leak, don't hesitate to double bag it to reduce the mess. Then, shake the bag for 5-10 minutes until the ice cream mixture begins to harden. If it’s too cold for your hands, wrap the bags in a towel and keep shaking! Feel the small bag to determine the consistency of your ice cream. Once satisfied with the consistency, remove the small bag from the bag of ice.
You can now enjoy your homemade ice cream! Scoop it up into a bowl and use your favorite toppings for a tasty treat you made yourself - or, you could eat it right out of the bag!
Library of Congress - Newspaper archives
“Spumoni Ice Cream”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 7/18/17 from commons.wikimedia.org
Ong, Maliz. “Two Scoops of Ice Cream”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 7/18/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Guevera, Cristie. “Ice Cream Case”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 7/18/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Guevera, Cristie. “Bowl of Ice Cream”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 7/18/17 from publicdomainpictures.net