ICE-CREAM: The History & Backgrounds
Ice cream (derived from earlier iced cream or cream ice is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners. In some cases, artificial flavourings and colourings are used in addition to, or instead of, the natural ingredients. The mixture of chosen ingredients is stirred slowly while cooling, in order to incorporate air and to prevent large ice crystals from forming. The result is smoothly textured semi-solid foam that is malleable and can be scooped.
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In 400 BC, the Persians went further and invented a special chilled food, made of rose water and vermicelli, which was served to royalty during summers. The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavours.
Ancient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. The BBC reports that a frozen mixture of milk and rice was used in China around 200 BC. The Roman Emperor Nero, had ice brought from the mountains and combined it with fruit toppings. These were some early chilled delicacies.. Arabs used milk as a major ingredient in the production of ice cream and sweetened it with sugar rather than fruit juices. It was flavoured with rosewater, dried fruits and nuts.
Picture 2: Italian Duchess, Chatherine de Medici, credited for introducing ice-cream into Europe in 16th Century
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat asserts, in her History of Food, that "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. Some distorted accounts claim that in the age of Emperor Yingzong, Song Dynasty (960–1279) of China, a poem named Ode to the ice cheese was written by the poet Yang Wanli. Actually, this poem was named Ode to the pastry is a kind of food much like pastry in the Western world) and has nothing to do with ice cream. It has also been claimed that, in the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan enjoyed ice cream and kept it a royal secret until Marco Polo visited China and took the technique of making ice cream to Italy.
Picture 3: Marco Polo acquiring the recipe for ice-cream from Kublai Khan
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.
Production of Ice-Cream
Before the development of modern refrigeration, ice cream was a luxury reserved for special occasions. Making it was quite laborious; ice was cut from lakes and ponds during the winter and stored in holes in the ground, or in wood-frame or brick ice houses, insulated by straw. Many farmers and plantation owners, including U.S. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, cut and stored ice in the winter for use in the summer. Frederic Tudor of Boston turned ice harvesting and shipping into a big business, cutting ice in New England and shipping it around the world.
Ice cream was made by hand in a large bowl placed inside a tub filled with ice and salt. This was called the pot-freezer method. French confectioners refined the pot-freezer method, making ice cream in a sorbetière (a covered pail with a handle attached to the lid). In the pot-freezer method, the temperature of the ingredients is reduced by the mixture of crushed ice and salt. The salt water is cooled by the ice, and the action of the salt on the ice causes it to...