If you need a reason to indulge in ice cream, here it is: July is National Ice Cream Month. It has been, since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. Other flavors of summer celebrated this month as well, are baked beans, hot dogs and blueberries.
My favorite ice cream memory is a generous bowl of pistachio gelato my husband and I shared at the ancient town square in Taormina, Sicily, atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, on a summer Sunday. Children played soccer nearby. Families strolled home from church. I savored the crunch of chopped nuts in every bite of that creamy green confection, served in a frosty, stemmed goblet.
Ice cream has been enjoyed throughout history:
- Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (D. 54-86) is said to have frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
- Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call sorbet.
It wasn’t until the 1800s, though, the invention of insulated ice houses and other commercial equipment made it possible for ice cream to be widely enjoyed around the world.
Vanilla is the popular flavor, according to a survey conducted last year by the International Dairy Foods Association. The next four most popular flavors, were chocolate, cookies ’n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.
The trend is toward unusual flavor couplings. For example, The Bent Spoon, in Princeton, N.J., specializes in small batch ice cream and sorbets using local and organic ingredients. Ricotta-pistachio, strawberries and elderflower, banana chunk, crème fraîche, school garden mint nib, pink rose, and lavender and mascarpone, were among the 28 flavors chilling in the display case on a recent day. https://www.facebook.com/pg/the-bent-spoon-132592140111950/reviews/?ref=page_internal
There are plenty of family friendly ways to churn a batch of ice cream at home, ranging from hand crank freezers to electric freezers that create ice cream in about 30 minutes.
Here are two books to get you started:
The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker by Robin Donovan and published by Rockridge Press. It features such time-tested flavors as Cookies and Cream, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Red Velvet. The easy-to-follow recipes are all based on one classic base. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXY0ANB/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_hist_3
Marilyn will return later this month with PART 2 of the history of ICE CREAM.
Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.