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Sweet Treats: Ice Cream Churning

This month's Stepping into the Past Saturday Series programming is ice cream churning. Who doesn't love the simple pleasure that is homemade ice cream in the heat of summer? We are still closed to the public due to COVID-19 and the state's efforts to curb the spread of the virus, so we can't churn up ice cream on site for you, but we can offer up some recipes and methods for making your very own old-fashioned, homemade ice cream!


"I've been reminiscing again, thinking how the world has changed since I was a child growing up in Wilson, North Carolina...Making homemade ice cream using a hand crank. Most of the time it required several people to complete the project, but for some reason the ice cream seemed to taste better when cranked by hand." -Keith Barnes



Image Courtesy Of: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC


In our modern society we can easily go to the freezer section of a grocery store or the drive thru of a restaurant to indulge in our favorite flavor of ice cream, but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many farm families could not so easily buy ice cream so they made their own in a hand-cranked ice cream maker. Ironically, the secret to our favorite sweet treat is salt! Salt lowers the melting point of ice. In an ice cream machine the salt draws away the heat and allows the cream to freeze.


Ice cream in various forms has a long international history. In the United States, Quakers brought along their recipe for ice cream and it was enjoyed by some in colonial times. Nancy Johnson invented the small hand-cranked ice cream freezer in the 1840s in Philadelphia. This allowed people to more easily make ice cream at home.


Below are two "old-fashioned" ways to make ice cream at home, one using an ice cream maker, and one using the "kick the can" method, which uses coffee cans in order to achieve the same effect as an ice cream machine. Both use rock salt, ice, and cream of some sort to make this sweet staple. Check out these videos and let us know if you attempt either recipe!







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