How to make ice cream at home according to a 1789 recipe


Like gunpowder, compass and paper, ice cream was invented in China. And a long time ago – millennia ago. Of course, this proto-ice cream was just snow and crushed ice with the addition of juice and pieces of fruit (today the Italians call this mixture granita). But then in the East they guessed to make cold drinks from kumis or buffalo milk, flour and camphor – the resulting product already looked like something like a modern thick milkshake.

Cold drinks were made by both the Greeks and the Romans. It is true that the Greeks were prevented by doctors led by Hippocrates (he believed that cold food was bad for the stomach) and cases of poisoning (snow was collected on the lower slopes of the mountains, it was contaminated there). Hundreds of sites on the Internet can find stories of Emperor Nero sending slaves to the mountains to collect snow and ice for drinks for him and brutally killing them if they returned empty-handed. Most scientists believe that this is a myth (in any case, ice cream has nothing to do with it): the Romans learned from the bitter experience of the Greeks and knew that mountain snow could hide various infections. It is believed that sometimes they simply placed pots of drinks in the snow to cool them. But, on the other hand, there are Seneca’s “Ethical Letters to Lucilius” – there he criticizes the rich who “melt the snow into wine” (he found it a vulgar luxury).

The Mongols poured milk and honey into wines, loaded them on horses and set off for the Gobi Desert (temperatures can reach minus 40 in winter). The milk was shaken on the horses’ backs and turned into cream, which froze, and the result was something icy … But in general, all this was not serious.

But who taught the Europeans of the new age to cook and eat “real ice cream”? According to a popular legend, the recipe was brought from China by Marco Polo, but this is unlikely: first, many scholars doubt that he was in China at all (there is a version that he wrote his famous book based on the stories of other travelers), second secondly, there is no reference to ice cream in the text. Another legend says that Catherine de Medici somehow took over the secret of making the product in the mid-16th century (but kept the recipe to the deepest secret). The third is that the creator of modern ice cream was Bartolomeo Scappi (1500-1577), the personal chef of the cardinals and several priests (in fact he prepared not gelato, as ice cream is called today in Italian, but gel, which is jelly with additives fruit – it’s all about the mistake of careless readers). Fourth – that the ice cream began to be made in the court of Charles I and the king of England paid the cook a lifetime pension, as long as he did not reveal the recipe …

According to legend, it was Marco Polo who, among other secrets of the East, introduced ice cream to Europeans.  But this is just a beautiful fantasy.

According to legend, it was Marco Polo who, among other secrets of the East, introduced ice cream to Europeans. But this is just a beautiful fantasy.

These are all fairy tales. In fact, in Europe they learned how to make ice cream as soon as they guessed to add salt to the crushed ice, and even better salt. After that, the ice, due to an endothermic reaction, turns into a natural freezer, providing a temperature well below zero. Then it remains to place another container with a mixture of creamy fruits in a container with ice and salt and stir at intervals until the mixture hardens. The process is quite long, but the result is considered by some to be the most delicious thing in the world.

It was not until the last third of the 17th century that Europeans began to seriously apply this wonderful technology to cooking. In addition, at first the fruit juices, water with the addition of aromatic spirits and wine were frozen and only then began to actively use the milk base. English ice cream – literally “creamy ice” – was first mentioned in the description of a banquet held on 28 and 29 May 1671 at Windsor Castle.


It took many more years for the sweet to gain real popularity. Caroline and Robin Weir, authors of the excellent book Ice Cream, Sorbets and Gelato: A Comprehensive Guide, write that the first collection of sorbet recipes was published in Naples around 1695. There were only 12 pages and descriptions for 23 desserts, “quite complicated yet and for modern standards “. And a few decades later, the French began to freeze the creamy mixture, adding eggs (and for some reason it was called “frozen cheese”). Eggs soon replaced the real cream (especially because they were cheaper): in an 18th-century Italian recipe, it was suggested to freeze a mixture of 30 egg yolks, a liter of sugar syrup and a pinch of cinnamon without adding anything. more on that!

Today, anyone can make ice cream at home, but once the recipe for a delicacy was strictly protected royal ...

Today, anyone can make ice cream at home, but once the recipe for a delicacy was strictly protected royal …

A photograph: Shutterstock

The legend that Charles I paid his chef to keep the ice cream recipe a secret has some basis – however, this has nothing to do with rights. In 1789, London confectioner Frederick Nutt began publishing a cookbook containing ice cream recipes. And Natta’s colleagues decided to give him chips and pay him 1,000 guineas for refusing to publish. They were afraid that after that all those who were not lazy would make ice cream and would lose their jobs. By the way, a thousand guineas in today’s money is about $ 25,000! But the brave Nutt resisted and nevertheless released his book (though at first without performance).

Almost nothing today prevents you from making ice cream at home according to his recipe. It is necessary to mix 6 yolks and 220 grams of sugar and at the same time heat “2 bottles of good” (ie greasy) cream in a pot with a thick bottom, adding a cut natural vanilla pod to them. When the cream boils, remove from the heat and add it to the egg mixture in a thin stream, stirring all the time. Then put it all together again in the pan and let it boil again, stirring constantly. Strain and empty into an ice cream machine (Nutt calls it “sabatiere”) and close the lid. Place the champagnes in a larger container filled with ice and salt, so that it almost drowns in them. After a quarter of an hour, start rotating the lighter in this container and continue to do so for 10 minutes. Then open the lid and mix the contents well with a spatula (the mixture should harden on the walls). Close again and place on ice, rotate, then open again and mix well and repeat until you have ice cream. Nutt writes that one hour is enough for everything for everything.

By the way, this does not differ from the recipe from the Stalinist “Book of Delicious and Healthy Food” of the 1952 edition. 1/4 vanillin powder and for every 6-7 kg of ice – 1 kg of salt.

A drawing of the early 19th century depicts the British in Paris after the defeat of Napoleon.  The guests are clearly excited about the local ice cream.

A drawing of the early 19th century depicts the British in Paris after the defeat of Napoleon. The guests are clearly excited about the local ice cream.



* The invention of paper ice cream cups is attributed to Italo Marchioni, who in the early 19th and 20th centuries sold lemon sorbet from a counter in New York. At first he put it in glass glasses that looked like whiskey glasses, but the buyers stole them and even if they returned they had to be washed well. Marconi then decided to make disposable paper cups. In 1903 he patented a machine for their production. His proud descendants claim that he was the first to invent the “ice cream sandwich” (ie a block in which ice cream is squeezed between two waffles).

* Ice cream was invented in the mid-19th century, probably in the town of Plombier-les-Bains. Russian and French ideas for ice cream are very different. To us, it is just ice cream with a high fat content of milk and the addition of eggs. In France – a special dessert: ice cream, to which are added almond extract and candied fruit soaked in kirsch (ie cherry distillate). A real ice cream is essentially closer to Malaga ice cream, to which raisins soaked in Malaga or rum are added.

* In the centuries that have passed since the invention of ice cream, dozens of varieties have appeared. For example, cream ice cream, which in America is called soft serve and is sold in most fast foods (its structure is provided by the fact that during the preparation process it is enriched with air and does not freeze in a completely solid state). Or Turkish dondurma (to be precise, there is a feeling that in Turkey all ice cream is called donut, but the real thing is what is made with salepi, orchid root flour, such a wild orchid and preferably with mastic – the aromatic resin of the mastic tree).

June 10 is World Ice Cream Day.

June 10 is World Ice Cream Day.

A photograph: Shutterstock


“Brain freeze”: why does the head hurt from the cold?

Ice cream (like, for example, cold milkshakes, or just ice water) can cause an acute headache if consumed quickly. It is true that such pain will pass soon. In English, there is an unofficial but well-established term for this effect – brain freeze (“brain freeze”), which was even patented for the use of a popular soda maker in advertising. Officially, in medical language, this is called lumbar neuralgia. In general, the brain reacts immediately to a sudden cold in the palate area, sees it as an immediate danger to itself, and sends hot blood to nearby vessels. Due to this contrast, the front of the head begins to split. It is supposed to be somewhat similar to the mechanism of occurrence of migraine: in any case, during experiments it was shown that the cold often causes headaches in those who have previously experienced migraine pain. By the way, the same pain sometimes occurs in skaters or, for example, in those who, in severe frost, decided to ride a motorcycle, exposing their face to the wind and swallowing cold air. In order not to feel pain from the ice cream, you just have to eat it slowly.

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