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Jun '10

Ice Ice Baby: Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Thomas Jefferson and His Ice Cream Recipe
In Thomas Jefferson’s day, when people wanted ice cream…they really had to want it.

Unlike we moderns who can indulge our ice cream cravings at any hour with a short drive to the supermarket; in Jefferson’s day, homemade was the only way to enjoy the then exotic treat from Paris.

Making ice cream at the time was a very laborious and expensive thing indeed. As it says on The Homemade Dessert Recipes Website:

“Because of the excessive time and labor involved in making ice cream and the requirement of a year-round source of ice, for many years ice cream remained a treat reserved for well-off families that had servants.”

In those days, the ice house was the only reliable way to get ice, which was harvested from nearby lakes and freshwater sources in the wintertime.

Carefully brought to ice houses, then stored using packed straw and sawdust as insulation, the cost of purchasing the ice and transporting it via ice wagons to home ice boxes was considerable.

The first ice house in America is said to have been located at 6th and Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which served as the executive mansion for Presidents George Washington and John Adams. Talk about luxury and convenience!

Most of the home ice boxes of the day were metal-lined, shelved wooden cabinets which were placed in the coldest part of the house. The delivered ice was stored in a compartment near the top of the cabinet to keep the food inside cool.

You can find out more about the history of the home ice box here.

Did I mention yet just how grateful I am for the invention of the modern refrigerator?

You can see Thomas Jefferson’s Original Ice Cream Recipe here, as well as find out the full story of what it took to make it.

If you’re looking for recipes to help you make gourmet ice cream the modern way, please see the delicious links at the bottom of this article.


Hugging the Coast Blog Fast ForwardPlease join us tomorrow to see our latest daily food and cooking article: 7 Seafood Salad Recipe Ideas For Picnics and Parties.

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