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Sunday, July 9, 2017


July is national ice cream month but personally, I think any month is one for ice cream. You can just have a lot more this month to celebrate! Whatever your choice of flavor might be, just go for it. But have you ever wondered who started making it and how? I thought it was something American made but WRONG! Ice cream making went back as far as 200 BC. Amazing isn’t it and how was it made?

After reading a lot about ice cream, I discovered that in the year of 200 BC or thereabouts, ice cream was made by having servants or peons [to a king or emporer] go up to high mountain tops that were snow-covered. These men had the horrific task of digging out snow and ice and carrying in back down steep mountains by pulling a handmade wagon. Once their destiny was reached, others who served the king or emporer had to take the snow and ice out of the wagon. After doing that, whatever the royal wanted put into it was his choice—such as berries or lemons or the like. And the workers had to stir that by hand into the snow and ice. In China, the emporer liked ice mixed with milk and rice: And that is what the upper-class ate at that time for ice cream.

And as soon as that was done, the king or emporer set out to eat the homemade ice cream [not like today’s ice cream but similar] along with his chosen family and guests. If the king or emporer lived in a hot region, you can guess that the ice cream was devoured quickly! The royals of that time and a little later who lived in cold climates had the pleasure of eating ice cream at their whim but pity the poor workers or peons to them—for they had the disgusting duty as described above.

Forward in time to about 400 AD and Arab countries as well as those in Africa were also making ice cream by using the same method:  Someone had to climb high mountains, retrieve the ice and snow and cart it back to the palace. And once again, whatever the choice of flavoring the royal wanted was added to the ice and snow. If you live in another country other than the United States, google the history of ice cream in your area—might be surprised at what you find out.

When the United States became a country, people here wanted ice cream as well for they as well as their forefathers had eaten it in England. But the United States had no emporer or king in its beginning and still doesn’t as you know well—we have a president. Read that George Washington kept cellars under ground [all Americans did at that time—no electriticy and no refrigeration] as did other prominent and non- prominent people. The recipes for making ice cream in 1776 and years forward came from Quaker colonists who brought their own recipes with them when they came here to settle.  Again some had the grueling task of digging ice and snow [indentured servants] and carrying it down steep hills to a specific place. This ice and snow was kept in  tin containers and put in cellars underground a house or a building nearby.

Cellars were built underneath as a basement is today of sorts. Stairs led the way down to them and it was here that the above was kept till someone wanted ice cream. But a change was made and that was that when the ice and snow was put into tin containers, rock salt was added as a first layer, then ice and snow, then more rock salt and so on till the top of the container was filled. What did rock salt do? It lowered the temperature of the ice and snow to way below freezing. And this fact allowed the ice cream makers to be more variable with types of ice cream made. This was really the first ice cream here in the United States. Some people still do this today!

An African American man named Augustus Jackson made many ice cream recipes and is credited with inventing a way to manufacture ice cream in 1832. Eleven years later, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia got the first United States patent for a hand-cranked freezer for ice cream. From then on, everyone could have ice cream—if they wanted to make it themselves or have someone do it for them. Imagine after the invention of electricity what transpired with ice cream! There were ice boxes in houses and unlimited possibilites.

Fast forward to today’s time and if it’s ice cream you want, all you have to do is to go to a store to buy it—any flavor and any way—slow churned, low-fat and/or with fruit, nuts, chocolate or whatever added is there for the taking.  And since it’s July, go for it! After all, ice cream is wonderful and be so grateful that no one has to climb high mountains anymore to get ice and snow—who’d want that job anyway? Long live ice cream! Enjoy!

Sherry Hill

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Sherry Hill
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