400 BCAs long ago as 400 BC Alexander the Great was reputedly fond of iced beverages. Ice cream evolved from these, and chilled wines.
62 ADThe early snow cone - slaves of the Roman Emperor Nero were sent to the mountains of the Apennines to fetch snow and ice which were then flavoured with fruit pulp, honey and nectar. One of Rome's most notorious party throwers, Lucullus, even had his food bowls carved from ice.
900 ADSaracens introduced ices into Sicily. Arabs sucked out birds' eggs, filled them with blossom-flavoured water and buried them in the snow to freeze them.
1295Marco Polo reportedly brought the recipe for water and milk ices back from his journey to the Orient where they had been in use for thousands of years. Water ices became popular in Venice and throughout Italy. The Chinese discovered the addition of saltpetre to ice improved the cooling process.
1500Charles I paid his French cook De Mireo 20 pounds a year not to divulge the secret of his frozen milk ices.
1600Procopio Cultelli made a hand-cranked churn for ices.
1700Frozen desserts found their way to America, and in 1700 guests of Governor Bladen, Maryland, were served ice cream.
1812The second Presidential Inaugural Ball was remembered for the sensation created by Dolly Madison when she served ice cream as a dessert.
1846Nancy Johnson invented the first hand-cranked freezer but failed to patent it. A similar type was patented the next year and in 1851 Jacob Fussell of Maryland established the first commercial ice cream plant.
1896Italio Mercioni developed an ice cream cone.
1904St. Louis Wor1d Fair - Syrian waffle maker E. A. Hamwi rolled waffles into a cone shape for the ice cream vendor in the adjoining booth. Millions of cones have been consumed since!

Why make your own?
I have become conscious that we are what we eat. Ice cream has become almost an essential part of the nightly menu in many homes. So if we are eating so much of it, we should make sure that what we do eat is good for us. A 'Grass Roots' article by Pamela Odijik, of Caboolture alerted me to the scary ingredients in ice cream and sent me searching the internet.

Commercial ice cream contains emulsifiers and stabilizers. These are what make commercial ice cream soft and smooth but firm. Algin is one of the emulsifiers used, it is also used to help make plastic. Today there are more than 1400 flavourings, colours, stabilisers, and emulsifiers available to the commercial producer of ice cream - an array of possible ingredients that would have dizzied the old-time ice cream makers who dealt primarily with cream, sugar, and various flavourings.

I have included part of an article that I down-loaded from the internet, for you to read at your own leisure and to increase your awareness of how unnatural commercial ice cream can be, and encourage you to read labels.

"Piperonyl alcohol is used in place of vanilla. This is a chemical used to kill lice. Vanillin is also a chemical used to produce a vanilla flavour. It is made from the wastes of wood pulp and has no relationship to the vanilla bean.

Natural vanilla, in the form of pureed vanilla beans or vanilla extract, is more expensive than artificial vanilla. That explains why many of the vanillas are flavoured artificially, either entirely or in part.

Benzyl acetate is a synthetic chemical that imparts a strawberry flavour. According to the Merck Index, an encyclopedia for chemists, it warns that this substance can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. - This compound having a benzine ring is closely related to compounds found in unleaded petrol and blamed for the carcinogenic (cancer-producing) nature of unleaded petrol.

Ethyl acetate is another chemical used by many manufacturers to give their product a pineapple flavour. This is a substance that can cause liver, kidney and heart damage. It is also used as a cleaner for leather and textiles, and its vapours have been known to cause chronic lung, liver and heart damage.

Then there's amyl butyrate to replace banana. It's also used as an oil paint solvent. Aldehyde c17 is used to flavour cherry ice cream. It is an inflammable liquid which is used in aniline dyes, plastic and rubber.

Butraldehyde is used in nut-flavoured ice cream. It's one of the ingredients in rubber cement.

Diethyl glycol is the same chemical used in antifreeze and in paint removers. Because it is cheap it is used in ice cream as an emulsifier instead of eggs. According to the Merck Index, it is sufficiently toxic to cause liver and kidney damage. Chemical additives as propylene glycol (the antifreeze constituent), glycerin, sodium carboxy methylcellulose (a cellulose), monoglycerides, diglycerides, disodium phosphates, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, polysorbate 80, and dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate are all permitted by law. Most of these additives are used as 'stabilisers' and 'emulsifiers'. Stabilisers make ice cream smooth; emulsifiers make it stiff so it can retain air.

Of course, pumping air into ice cream increases its volume. Two batches of mix weighing the same but containing different amounts of air take up different amounts of space. The batch with more air naturally appears greater in quantity. And since ice cream is sold by volume it is possible to make a little mix fill a lot of two or four litre containers. But air does more than alter ice cream's size. It affects its taste. Each manufacturer has his own formula for the amount of air ('percentage of over-run' in trade jargon) that makes "the best" ice cream. Ice creams contain from 40 per cent to 60 per cent over-run (air).

Too little air makes a heavy ice cream. Too much air makes a foamy ice cream. Under United States law, a gallon of ice cream must weigh at least 4.5 pounds. Home made ice cream and the natural ice creams on the market are heavy and weigh about 7 to 8.5 pounds a gallon.

The next time you're tempted by a luscious-looking banana split (or to let your belly be your god), think of it as a mixture of oil and nitrate solvent, antifreeze and lice killer, and you won't find it so appetising ...



The butterfat content of ice cream is important for:

• Richness of flavour
• Smooth texture
• Helps give body to the ice cream
• Aids in good melting properties

Disadvantages of butterfat:

• High in calories
• High cost
• Very rich

There is always a combination of liquid and crystalline fat - the churning process which adds air to the mixture partially destablises this ratio which gives the texture and structure of ice cream.


These contain lactose, caseins, whey proteins, minerals and ash. They are needed:

• To improve texture.
• Help give body and chew resistance to finished product.
• Allow higher overun (increase in volume) without flaky texture.
• Cheap cost


• Off flavours
• Excess of lactose gives sandiness in taste when lactose crystallises out of solution.
• Excess lactose lowers the freezing point so product is very hard.

This is why in commercial ice cream they use stabilisers. Fruits, nuts, and candy all increase lactose crystallisation.


• Skim milk powder
• Sweetened condensed whole or skim milk
• Fresh milk
• Evaporated milk
• Whey powder


Commercial ice cream has 12-16% by weight sugar minimum.

• Improves texture.
• Enhances flavour.
• Cheapest source of solids.

Sugars plus lactose give a depressed freezing point, which means there is some unfrozen water at low temps. Without this the ice cream would be too hard to scoop. Corn syrup is used in commercial ice cream as it is economical and improves shelf life. The aim is to balance sweetness, total solids and freezing point.


Stabilisers are used to stop the unfrozen portion of water migrating within the product, if this occurs the ice cream is coarse and icy. The smaller the ice crystals the less detectable they are to the tongue. Gelatine used to be the commercial stablliser but now they use:

• Carboxymethyl/cellulose, CMC, obtained from plant material.
• Locust Bean Gum or we know it as Carob Bean Gum.
• Guar Gum from Guar bush.
• Carrageenan - Irish Moss.


• Smoothness in body and texture.
• Retard/reduce ice crystal growth during storage.
• Uniformity of product and resistance to melting.
• Aid in suspension of flavouring particles.
• Produce stable foam in ice cream.
• Produce easy cut off and stiffness for packaging, eg. bars.
• Prevent shrinkage.


• Heavy, soggy body.

Emulsifiers aid in developing appropriate fat structure and air distribution to give smooth eating and good meltdown characteristlcs. The original emulsifiers were egg yolks. Today in commercial ice cream, mono and diglycerides from partial hydrolysis of fats or oils of animal or vegetable origin are used. E.g. pig fat. These are "generally recognised as safe" is the terminology used. Now that we understand what each ingredient in ice cream does, it helps us to produce our own recipes to give the taste we want. It also helps us to understand the different texture of different recipes.

Click for Judy's Ice Cream and Sorbet Workshop Recipes.

Judy Kennedy

DATE: November 2000

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