By Karen A., Summer Student
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Who doesn’t love ice cream? That’s a silly question, since I’m pretty sure everyone enjoys some flavour of ice cream. And since July is National Ice Cream Month, as recognized by The International Ice Cream Association, the museum has dusted off the ice cream maker in prep for Grandpa Henry’s picnic which features old fashioned ice cream making (and taste testing)!
The origins of ice cream date back to the second century B.C.E. although no specific date can be determined for when this tasty treat was invented. It is known that Alexander the Great enjoyed ice and snow flavoured with honey and nectar. Likewise, Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar sent runners into the mountains to gather snow which he then flavoured with fruits and juice. England started making ice cream during the 16th century, along with the Italians and French. But it wasn’t until the mid-17th century that ice cream became available to the general public because of its expensive cost.
In the Victorian period ice cream was made by hand. With the use of wooden buckets which had hand cranks attached, the mixture was then combined together and frozen. It was difficult however as the Victorians didn’t have access to electric freezers or ice cream machines. A lot of the ice used to make the ice cream and to keep it cold, was collected from rivers and ponds in the winter time which was then stored in ice houses.
At the museum we now have our own hand crank ice cream maker; fortunately it also comes with a motor attached so we are not stuck hand cranking all the ice cream. This ice cream maker allows us to show visitors how Victorians hand cranked their ice cream, but also lets us make enough ice cream for everyone without getting tired!
Here are some recipes on how to make Victorian ice cream;
Lemon Fig Ice Cream
1 c. whipping cream
1 c. milk
1 egg, well beaten
Few grains salt
¾ c. sugar
1 c. chopped preserved figs, and juice
Juice 2 lemons
Combine eggs, sugar, salt, figs and juice, lemon juice, and milk. Pour into freezer. Partially freeze. Carefully fold in whipped cream. Continue freezing until firm. 8 servings.
2 c. water
1 c. sugar
Few grains salt
6 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine water, sugar, and salt. Heat to boiling. Boil 5 minutes. Cool. Add lemon juice. Freeze. 4 servings.