Ice-cream is the name given to a sweet confection based on cream or milk, flavoured and frozen.

The Chinese are credited with the in-vention of ice-cream and they passed on the art of making it to the Indians and Persians. Later, travellers and soldiers brought knowledge of it to the ancient Greeks and the Romans – the Roman Emperor

Nero is reputed to have been partial to frozen fruit and honey ices.

Ice-cream was introduced into fashionable Parisian society from Italy in the late seventeenth century and less than a century later was already an essential centrepiece to the grandest of society dinner parties and buffets all year round.

Chefs and confectioners vied with one another to produce the most original and intricate creations.

In olden days ice-cream was a luxury, but with the introduction of mechanical refrigeration ice-cream became easily available and cheaper.

Nowadays ice-cream is accepted as an easy-to-prepare, inexpensive dessert, a treat for children or a pleasant cooling confection on a warm day.

It is possible to make a type of ice-cream, called ‘still-frozen’ ice-cream, in the frozen food storage compartment of a domestic refrigerator or home-freezer, although ice-cream made in this way does not have the velvety smooth texture of ice-cream made in a churn or in an electric ice-cream maker because the ice crystals which form in the freezing pro-cess are not broken up in the same way. Emulsifying agents such as gelatine, cornflour or eggs are usually used to prevent large crystals from forming in ‘still-frozen’ ice-cream.

To make ice-cream in the refrigerator, it is essential to beat it as much as possible during the freezing process. This should be done 30 minutes after first placing the ice-cream in the storage compartment, and again when the mixture is almost solid. All bowls and equipment must be well-chilled before they are used.

An electric ice-cream maker which fits into the frozen food storage compartment of a domestic refrigerator also makes excellent ice-cream. The ice-cream mixture is poured into a container equipped with paddles. The paddles churn the mixture continually while it is freezing, breaking up the ice crystals and aerating the mixture. When the paddles are no longer able to turn, the ice-cream is ready to serve.

One of the best ways to make ice-cream, it is often thought, is in a hand-propelled ice-cream churn. The churn consists of a pail with a central container for the ice-cream, a dasher or paddles and a lid.

To make ice-cream in a hand-operated churn, first pack the pail with ice, broken into pieces, not crushed, and coarse rock salt in the proportion of one part of salt to three parts of ice. (The addition of salt produces a much lower temperature.) Put the ice and salt in layers, packing them down tightly until the container is completely surrounded and two-thirds submerged in the ice. Let the container stand for a few minutes to get quite cold, then pour in the chilled ice-cream mix-ture. The container must not be filled more than three-quarters full as the ice-cream expands as it freezes. Insert the dasher and fit the lid. Turn the handle slowly for the first

5 minutes, then more rapidly as the ice-cream begins to freeze. The ice-cream will be ready in ABOUT 20 minutes. When it is ready, remove the lid and the dasher and scrape down the ice-cream from the sides of the container.

Put the lid on again and plug the hole with a cork. Pour away the melted ice from the bucket, and pack it with more ice and salt. Cover the pail with aluminium foil and leave the ice-cream to freeze or ‘ripen’ for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

There are two basic mixtures for ice-cream – one based on a custard, the other on a mousse. Both may be varied by the addition of flavourings such as coffee, chocolate, praline and butterscotch, or by the addition of a fruit puree. The amount of fruit puree required to flavour the ice-cream is approximately 8 fluid ounces of puree to 1 pint icecream mixture, but this will vary slightly depending on the fruit.

Freezing reduces sweetness and flavour so both sugar and flavouring must be added in a higher proportion than for other desserts. Approximately 2 ounces of sugar will sweeten 1 pint of a plain ice-cream such as vanilla.

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