15-year-old Helena wrote a hundred years ago today:
Sunday, February 12, 1911. Pa and Ma went away today and we had the house to ourselves while they were gone. Of course we had a fine dinner for my sister is an excellent cook, or rather she thinks she is. Any way we had dinner. Ice cream consisted of part of it. I had to turn the freezer, which I soon tired of. (I usually tire of anything I don’t like.) Any how I froze that cream so hard that it all crumbled up in big chunks. That surely was a result of labor. Rachel Oakes was a guest for dinner. I went to Sunday school church and catechize this afternoon. By the time I got home, the afternoon was almost over.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I found directions for making ice cream in an old cookbook that was published in 1911.
Vanilla Ice Cream, No. 1—Sweeten one quart of thin cream with three-fourths cup of sugar, flavor with one and one-half tablespoons of vanilla extract and freeze.
Vanilla Ice Cream, No. 2—Add to one egg slightly beaten, one cup of sugar, one tablespoon of flour, and a speck of salt. Pour on one pint of scalding milk and cook for twenty-five minutes in a double boiler. When cool, add vanilla and one pint of thin cream.
In freezing cream and ices, good general rules to be observed are: Be lavish with the salt and have the ice pounded quite fine, thereby involving less labor in turning the freezer and securing a smooth velvety cream. The quickest and best way to pound the ice is to put it in a stout burlap bag, tie up the mouth, and pound it vigorously with a flat-headed hammer or mallet. Snow may be used instead of ice; if this does not freeze steadily, add one cup of water to it. Have the ice and salt already packed around the can before the mixture is put in. Be sure that the latter is quite cold before it is placed in the can and do not begin freezing by turning rapidly and lagging toward the end of the process. Instead turn slowly at the beginning and increase the speed as the mixture thickens. Be very careful that there is no possible chance of the salt or water getting into the can, but do not pour off the water unless it gets too high; when a little may be turned off.
Allow three measures of ice to one measure of salt; if a larger proportionate quantity of salt be used the freezing will take place in a shorter time, but the mixture will have a granular texture.
Never fill a freezer more than three-fourths full, as the mixture gains in bulk as it freezes.
When it is desired to have the cream in blocks or cakes a special mold will be needed. The mold should be set in ice and salt while the cream is being frozen, and when the beater or mixer is removed, the cream should be packed into the mold as quickly as possible. It should be pressed down firmly and smoothly and a piece of stout muslin or buttered paper laid over it before the mold cover is put on. The mold is then packed in ice and salt and kept for a few hours until the cream is ready for use.
The Butterick Cook Book (1911)
Based upon the directions above, it appears that Grandma probably started turning the handle quickly at the beginning and then much slower as it thickened—which is exactly the opposite from what she should have done.
(An old-fashioned ice cream freezer is shown in the January 22 posting.)