Ice cream began its history as flavoured ice and had little resemblance to our modern-day creamy cold dessert. Alexander the Great is said to like his snow flavoured with honey, while Emperor Nero had eaten his snow topped with fruits or juices.
Some historians have argued that adding honey, fruits or juices to snow gives us flavoured-ices or flavoured-snow instead of ice cream, which should include the use of dairy products.
Hence, the invention of ice-cream is generally credited to Emperor Tang of Shang dynasty (1675 – 1646 BC), who had his ice cream made by mixing buffalo milk, camphor and flour together, with the help of more than 90 men. The use of camphor gave texture and visual appeal, making the concoction flaky like snow, says culinary historian Elizabeth David. The mixture was then poured into metal tubes before lowering them into icy pools to be frozen, according to food writer Tori Avery.
Ice cream then made its way to Europe. Some claim it was Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) who brought the dessert from China to Italy during the thirteenth century. This theory, however, has been debunked by many scholars. One of the reasons is, they say, Marco Polo probably did not even make it as far as China.
Another story says that it was Italian noblewoman Catherine de Mecini and her ice cream chef, Ruggeri, who were responsible for introducing ice cream to France during the sixteenth century.
Mecini’s ice cream chef, Ruggeri, was a chicken seller before he rose to fame in a culinary competition which she organised. The competition required participants to create “the most unusual dish”, and Ruggeri won with his recipe of “frozen dessert”. She then took Ruggeri along to Paris after marrying Henry II of France in 1533. However, just like the former theory of Marco Polo, there is no concrete evidence to this story.“The first ice cream recipe to be published in English was in 1718 by Mrs Mary Eales.”
The Italians began developing their sorbetto by the middle of the seventeenth century. Anotonio Latini is believed to be the author of the first sorbetto recipe to be written. Latini was a steward for Don Stefano, the first minister of the Spanish Viceroy of Naples. Latini’s book Lo scalo alla moederna, or The Modern Steward, contains a recipe for milk sorbet, which requires cooking milk with water and sugar before freezing the mixture with snow and salt. To most culinary historians, Latini’s milk sorbet has a greater resemblance to the modern ice cream than Emperor Tang’s.
The first ice cream recipe to be published in English was in 1718 by Mrs Mary Eales. The cover of her cookbook reads: “Mrs Mary Eales’s Receipts“, with a subtitle Confectioner to Her Late Majesty Queen Anne, although there is no other evidence to this claim. Mrs Eales’s recipe for ice cream calls for a large quantity of ice: “to every six pots (of cream), you require eighteen to twenty pounds of ice.” Some straws must be laid at the bottom of a pail before placing the ice on top. The pots of cream should also be carefully covered with ice on every side in the pail. This would then be placed in a “cellar, where no sun or light come”, thereafter, “it will be froze (sic) in four hours”, as Mrs Eales advised.
By the mid-eighteenth century, English recipes for ice cream had evidently become well established and less tedious in its procedure as compared to Mrs Eales’s. One such recipe was found in Hannah Glasse’s famous cookbook The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, published in 1747. Glasse advised her readers to add some raspberries, or “whatever you like best” to give the dessert some flavour and colour, before freezing it with ice and salt in “two pewter basons”. The cream should then be allowed to “stand in this ice three-quarters of an hour, then uncover it and stir the cream well together”. This procedure is repeated again half an hour later, after which it should be ready to serve.
It is not certain when Americans learned to make ice cream. However, ice cream began to surface in the New World when European settlers arrived during the first half of the eighteenth century. An early source of evidence came from Maryland in 1744. William Black was a guest of Governor Thomas Bladen when he was being served with what he described as “some fine ice cream which, with the strawberries and milk, eat most deliciously.”
A frozen food that is typically sweetened with sugar or sugar substitutes. Usually made from dairy products and other flavourings such as chocolate, vanilla, etc.
Milk, cream, sugar and other flavourings as desired. Egg yolks are sometimes used to achieve a creamier effect. Ice cream companies such as Ben & Jerry’s created non-diary flavours by using almond milk as substitutes. This is to cater to those who are vegans or lactose intolerant.