A Regency-Inspired Lemon Ice Recipe
“The Hattons’ & Milles’ dine here today– & I shall eat Ice & drink French wine and be above Vulgar Economy.”
July 1, 1808
Ice Cream has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Some legends attribute the first frozen dessert to Emperor Nero, of Rome. It was a mixture of snow (which he sent his slaves into the mountains to retrieve) nectar, fruit pulp, and honey. Another theory states that Marco Polo, 13th century bard and adventurer, brought recipes (said to be used in Asia for thousands of years) for water ices to Europe from the Far East.
Whatever the story, it is now an established treat- not just in the summer (or winter when ice is plentiful)- but all year long. Traditional ice cream was not invented until sometime in the 1830’s. In fact, the Ice Cream Maker wasn’t even patented until 1843 (by a woman, no less!) Even still it was a popular treat among those who could afford it. During his reign in the 1600s, King Charles I of England offered a cook a job for life if he made him ice cream and kept it a secret. George Washington loved ice cream so much that he ran up a $200 bill for the dessert treat one summer in the late 1700s and Dolly Madison served ice cream in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.
The key factor in the manufacture of ice cream was ice. Where was it to come from? In the early 19th century importation of ice started from Norway, Canada and America, this made ice cream readily available to the general public in the UK. Ice was shipped into London and other major ports and taken in canal barges down the canals, to be stored in ice houses, from where it was sold to ice cream makers. This burgeoning ice cream industry, run mainly by Italians, started the influx of workers from southern Italy and the Ticino area of Switzerland to England.
While innumerable recipes abound (the first one appearing in 1718, the easiest to concoct are “Ices” similar to today’s Italian Ices. Light and refreshing, they make a perfect summer treat. Ices have no dairy content, where Sorbet has a slight amount of cream and ice Cream is based entirely on diary products.
Lemon Ice Recipe
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
Dash of Salt
- In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, water and lemon rind.
- Boil for 5 minutes. Cool.
- Add lemon juice to cooled sugar water.
- Churn freeze (in Ice Cream maker) or pour into a dish and cover. Freeze at least 6 hours. Break frozen mixture into chunks. Place chunks in food processor; process until smooth. This method produces more of a “smoothy” texture. Makes 1/2 gallon of lemon ice.
If Churn Frozen or slightly stiff, this looks lovely served inside half of a lemon. Simply cut your lemons in half lengthwise before beginning process. Squeeze out the juice to be used in the recipe, cut a small slice of peel off the bottom of the lemon half so that it sits upright. Scoop out excess pulp and membrane, cover in plastic until ready to fill with frozen mixture. Garnish with Mint and berries.
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