Ice Cream Secrets by Jennifer Farmer
Long ago people realized that cold kept foods were going bad. But eventually, cooks discovered that cold can do much more. Remains of provisions are sometimes found at the backs of caves where Paleolithic peoples lived and the later, food was stored in holes dug in the ground.
The Ancient Romans used ice cream in the food storage. Convoys brought blocks of good compacted snow ice cream or ice to Rome that was buried so it would keep. Nero gave his guests mixtures of crushed fruits, snow and also honey -- the first recorded sorbet. And Seneca were known to reproach his fellow citizens for the expense and also trouble they went to for iced desserts. Even Hippocrates disapproved of chilled drinks, which he thought "generate fluxes of the stomach."
The Chinese may be credited with the invention of the device to make sorbets and ice cream. They poured a mixture of snow and saltpeter over the exteriors the containers filled with syrup. In the same way that salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point it below zero. It is said that Marco Polo observed this practice and brought it home to Italy, traditionally a country that specializes in making ices. Catherine De Medici not only brought to France the fine art of gastronomy from Italy, but also the fashion for sorbets.
Here in America, Dolly Madison is normally credited with introducing ice cream at her husband's second inaugural ball in the year 1812. Actually, ice cream had already been enjoyed half a century earlier. In 1744, a curious dessert called tasty strawberry ice cream was served at the Governor's Mansion in the Annapolis, Maryland. Records also show that George Washington bought a "cream machine for ice" in 1784 to use at Mount Vernon, and that Thomas Jefferson brought back a recipe from France in 1789, well before Dolly Madison's days as First Lady.
I will skip the description of the long arduous task of making ice cream in years past. Let us just say that making ice cream today is a snap, thanks to modern ingenuity and some pretty neat machines, especially the ones that do the churning for you! It almost seems silly to make your own ice cream when Blue Bell and Hagen Daze are so readily available, but those hot summers were always a little cooler when Grandma pulled out the old ice cream machine. Summer still just doesn't feel right without it.
When the peaches start to ripen, it is a signal to get out the ice cream maker. What better way to get through the Texas heat that to cool off with your own ice cream. (I have learned that I can get my kids to do all the work. They think it is pure fun.)