July is National Ice Cream month, which is my favorite month. I love ice cream. I think there should be a section on the food pyramid exclusively for ice cream.
I came from a family of ice cream eaters. It all started with my great grandpa, then my grandpa, my dad, then me. I can still remember my grandpa and my dad eating ice cream from large bowls, no half-cup servings at our house. I used to be the same way, but as my metabolism went from slow to none, I have cut out ice cream, only on special occasions.
To mark National Ice Cream Month, for which we have Ronald Reagan to thank, here is the history of ice cream. It’s more interesting than you might think.
As told by the International Dairy Foods Association, the origins of ice cream date back to the second Century B.C. Alexander the Great liked snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East more than a 1,000 years later with a recipe that resembles modern sherbet.
France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France, but it wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public. The Sicilian Procopio introduced a recipe blending milk, cream, butter and eggs at Café Procope, the first café in Paris.
So what about ice cream in the United States?
The first known official reference comes from a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Gov. William Bladen, and the first ice cream advertisement appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, when confectioner Philip Lenzi announced that ice cream was available “almost every day.”
Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington’s death revealed “two pewter ice cream pots.” President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern-day Baked Alaska.
And in 1813, Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House.
Around 1800, insulated ice houses were invented. Manufacturing ice cream soon became an industry in America, pioneered in 1851 by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell.
Like other American industries, ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment.
In addition, motorized delivery vehicles dramatically changed the industry. Due to ongoing technological advances, today’s total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons.
In 1874, the American soda fountain shop and the profession of the “soda jerk” emerged with the invention of the ice cream soda. In response to religious criticism for eating “sinfully” rich ice cream sodas on Sundays, ice cream merchants left out the carbonated water and invented the ice cream “Sunday” in the late 1890s. The name was eventually changed to “sundae” to remove any connection with the Sabbath.
Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War II. Each branch of the military tried to outdo the others in serving ice cream to its troops. In 1945, the first “floating ice cream parlor” was built for sailors in the western Pacific. When the war ended, and dairy product rationing was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. Americans consumed over 20 quarts of ice cream per person in 1946.
In the 1940s through the 1970s, ice cream production was relatively constant in the United States. As more prepackaged ice cream was sold through supermarkets, traditional ice cream parlors and soda fountains started to disappear. Now, of course, specialty ice cream stores and unique restaurants that feature ice cream dishes have surged in popularity.
In 1984, then President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month.
Here’s the official proclamation:
Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food. Over eight hundred and eighty-seven million gallons of ice cream were consumed in the United States in 1983.
The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well being of the Nation’s dairy industry.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 298, has designated July 1984 as “National Ice Cream Month,” and July 15, 1984, as “National Ice Cream Day,” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of these events.
Today, the U.S. ice cream industry generates more than $21 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.
The best ice cream though, I think is homemade ice cream. As kids, we used a hand cranked ice cream maker and a wooden barrel packed with rock salt and ice. Today, as a Personal Chef, I get lots of requests for homemade ice cream at dinner parties. I invested in a small electric one. I have ice cream in an hour.
VANILLA BEAN HOMEMADE ICE CREAM ~ Taken from Cuisinart.com
2-1/3 cups whole milk
2-1/3 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean (about 6 inches in length)
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1-1/8 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine the milk and cream in a Cuisinart® medium saucepan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the blunt edge to scrape out the “seeds.” Stir the seeds and bean pod into the milk/cream mixture. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat until the mixture is thick, smooth, and pale yellow in color (similar to mayonnaise), about 2 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture and discard.
Measure out 1 cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, add the cup of hot milk/cream to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk/cream mixture and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl, stir in vanilla, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard, and chill completely.
Pour the chilled custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.
Don’t forget the homemade fudge sauce ~
HOMEMADE FUDGE SAUCE ~ my great grandma Essman’s recipe
½ cup butter
4oz. unsweetened chocolate
Melt these two in a double broiler. Add 3 cups sugar, adding 3 Tablespoons at a time, stirring until each addition is thoroughly moistened. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 large can of evaporated milk; add very slowly, stirring constantly. Keep over heat and stir until blended.
Keep in covered container.
(Editor’s Note: Kathy Bullerman is a licensed personal chef. She can be reached by calling 850-4356, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about Kuisine by Kathy, visit the website at www.kuisinebykathy.com.)