A Brief History of Ice Cream

history of ice creamEvery wonder what the origins of one of our favorite desserts came from?  Ice cream has been around for centuries, but who invented it?  History indicates that Emperor Nero combined ice with fruit toppings in the first century. The Chinese probably concocted the first ice-and-milk refreshments that made their way to royal courts in France and Italy. Myth claims that Marco Polo brought ice cream to Europe in the 13th century, but historical evidence credits China in the first millennium for using ice and salt to freeze milk and cream recipes. Until ice was stored in insulated underground chambers, consumption of ice cream was limited to times of the year when icy conditions prevailed.

Riches to Rags

England’s King Charles II served actual ice cream made with milk in 1672; only royalty throughout Europe indulged in this luxury because is was so difficult to make. There was no way to store ice cream, so it was made and immediately served. First lady Dolly Madison served ice cream to White House guests in 1812. During the later part of the 19th century, commoners enjoyed ice cream, when immigrants carried their ice cream recipes abroad and processes simplified.

Ice Cream Machines

The first ice cream maker was called a pot-freezer – a large ice cream bowl placed inside of a tub filled with ice and salt to reduce the temperature. Technology advanced the hand crank ice cream maker to a covered pail with a handle attached to the lid. Next came the hand-cranked churn that produced smother ice cream in a shorter amount of time, but still used ice and salt to cool.

Manual ice cream machines operated by hand crank that turned the paddle used salt and ice to cool. Today, ice cream makers are themselves inexpensive, but use of salt and ice makes them costly and messy to operate. Smaller electric ice cream machines are constructed with hollow walls filled with coolant, and operate by hand or automatically with the push of a button, making them extremely simple to use and this is what makes such a worthy appliance to own.  Making homemade ice cream has never been easier as we have surely come a long way in time.