History of Ice Cream

ice cream van for hireIce cream or ice-cream (originally iced cream) is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, combined with fruits or other ingredients. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners. In some cases, artificial flavourings and colourings are used in addition to (or in replacement of) the natural ingredients. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming; the result is a smoothly textured ice cream.

The meaning of the term ice cream varies from one country to another. Terms like frozen custard, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato and others are used to distinguish different varieties and styles. In some countries, like the USA, the term ice cream applies only to a specific variety, and their governments regulate the commercial use of all these terms based on quantities of ingredients. In others, like Italy and Argentina, one word is used for all the variants. Alternatives made from soy milk, rice milk, and goat milk are available to those who are unable to enjoy traditional ice cream due to lactose intolerance or allergy to dairy protein.

Precursors of ice cream


Ancient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. Mesopotamia has the earliest icehouses in existence, 4,000 years ago, beside the Euphrates River, where the wealthy stored items to keep them cold. The pharaohs of Egypt had ice shipped to them. In the fifth century BC, ancient Greeks sold snow cones mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of Athens. Persians, having mastered the storage of ice, ate chilled desserts well into summer. Roman Emperor Nero (37–68) had ice brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings. These were some early chilled delicacies.

Ancient Persians mastered the technique of storing ice inside giant naturally-cooled refrigerators known as yakhchals. These structures kept ice brought in from the winter, or from nearby mountains, well into the summer. They worked by using tall windcatchers that kept the sub-level storage space at frigid temperatures.

In 400 BC, Persians invented a special chilled pudding-like dish, made of rose water and vermicelli which was served to royalty during summers. The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavors. The treat, widely made in Iran today, is called "faloodeh", and is made from starch (usually wheat), spun in a sieve-like machine which produces threads or drops of the batter, which are boiled in water. The mix is then frozen, and mixed with rose water and lemons, before serving.

ice cream van for hireIn 62 AD, the Roman emperor Nero sent slaves to the Apennine mountains to collect snow to be flavored with honey and nuts.

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat asserts in her History of Food, "the Chinese may be credited with inventing a device to make sorbets and ice cream. They poured a mixture of snow and saltpetre over the exteriors of containers filled with syrup, for, in the same way as salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point to below zero." (Toussaint does not provide historical documentation for this.)

In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperors used relays of horsemen to bring ice from the Hindu Kush to Delhi where it was used in fruit sorbets.

When Italian duchess Catherine de' Medici married the duc d’Orléans in 1533, she is said to have brought with her Italian chefs who had recipes for flavored ices or sorbets and introduced them in France.[8] One hundred years later, Charles I of England was supposedly so impressed by the "frozen snow" that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative. There is, however, no historical evidence to support these legends, which first appeared during the 19th century.

The first recipe for flavored ices in French appears in 1674, in Nicholas Lemery’s Recueil de curiositéz rares et nouvelles de plus admirables effets de la nature.

Recipes for sorbetti saw publication in the 1694 edition of Antonio Latini's Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward).

Recipes for flavored ices begin to appear in François Massialot's Nouvelle Instruction pour les Confitures, les Liqueurs, et les Fruits starting with the 1692 edition. Massialot's recipes result in a coarse, pebbly texture. However, Latini claims that the results of his recipes should have the fine consistency of sugar and snow.

 
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