The Ladies' Tea Guild

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making strawberry ice cream the Victorian way: without a freezer!

image from
I got 3 pints of strawberries at the farmer's market last week, and they've been sitting in the fridge since I brought the home!  A bunch of great strawberries that will go bad if I don't do something with them *right now* is a great motivator to get into the kitchen!  But the house is too hot to make jam, and berries this ripe shouldn't be cooked (much) anyway, I think.  Ice cream sounds good, but I don't have an ice cream maker.  There is a popular recipe for making ice cream without a machine, but it involves cooking an egg custard, and taking the mixture out of the freezer to stir it around every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours.  I think I have a better idea (although it will make more of a semifreddo instead of a soft ice cream texture)!

"Strawberry Ice Cream.--Mix one pound of strawberry juice, strained and sweetened, with one pint of whipped cream; if to be frozen in a mould, add a little isinglass, melted and strained.  If to be eaten in glasses, isinglass is not necessary."  From The Good Housekeeper, by Lydia Maria Child, 1841.

Now, I am not going to do this exactly as Mrs. Child directs (I can't leave well enough alone).  I'm not using isinglass (a kind of gelatin) for one thing.  I'm also not using strained strawberry juice; I'm going to mash the strawberries with the sugar, and fold them into the whipped cream.  Then I'm going to line a baking dish with plastic wrap, pour the mixture in, and just freeze it.  I also inherited some fancy Jello-molds from my grandma so I may line some of them with plastic and make little molded ice creams for fun!  

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)