Old-fashioned Black Walnut Ice Cream Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, March 1, 1914:

March comes in like a howling lion,

How it goes out, I do not know.

This month at least is a howler,

Or the beginning is for the winds do blow (fiercely).

Went to Sunday School this morning. This afternoon it began to get pretty breezy and by now the winds are howling to beat the band. We had ice cream. Whether attracted by the scent or not, Besse and Curt came out. Besse usually manages to get out when we have ice cream.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Besse and Curt Hester were Grandma’s married sister and her husband. They lived in nearby Watsontown.

Throughout the diary, the Muffly’s made ice cream once or twice each winter. Today we think of ice cream as a warm weather food—but I guess in the days before refrigeration that maybe it was a cold weather food. It would have been easier to get the ice needed to make ice cream during the winter months.

What kind of ice cream did they make? Maybe they made Black Walnut Ice Cream. The previous fall Grandma gathered nuts after they fell from the trees—and Black Walnut is an awesome old-fashioned ice cream flavor.

Black Walnut Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups half and half

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup chopped black walnuts

In a saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in 1/2 of the half and half (2 cups). Stir and cook over moderate heat until thickened. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs, and then add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook 1 additional minute. Remove from heat; add vanilla and additional half and half. Strain to remove any lumps. Chill for several hours. Stir in black walnuts before putting into ice cream freezer.

Follow freezer directions to make ice cream.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 quarts. Recipe may be doubled or tripled for larger freezers.

This ice cream turned out wonderfully—and my husband says that I should have doubled the recipe because it didn’t last long enough.

This is one of my favorite uses of black walnuts. The coldness of the ice cream and the robust flavor of the walnuts combine to create a wonderful taste treat.

Monthly Poem

The first day of each month Grandma included a poem in the diary. For more information see, the following post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

33 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Black Walnut Ice Cream Recipe

    1. mmm. . . I haven’t had black raspberry ice cream in years. Thanks for reminding me of it. I have a couple black raspberry bushes in my back yard. . . . I may have to make some ice cream next summer. 🙂

    1. We New Englanders love our ice cream year-round! There is a restaurant a mile from me which opened in 1917 as a confectioner’s shop and is now a full-service restaurant and function rooms with a year-round ice cream stand inside. They make all of their own ice cream and sell it in single-serve scoops, sundaes, frappes, etc as well as hand-packed pints and half gallons. They do a swift business all year. Another ice cream company a few towns away which also makes their own is seasonal-but they opened their outdoor stands in both towns two weekends ago and are open 7 days a week until 10pm from Valentine’s Day through early November!

  1. Hard to imagine that a bowl of ice-cream would rate a diary entry these days. We are spoilt. Mr B would love this flavour, while I enjoy Tiger Tiger (Orange with Black Licorice)

    1. The name of the ice cream–Tiger Tiger–reminds me of how my son wanted to paint his bedroom Tigeriffic Orange when he was little. Of course, I wasn’t as enamored by the color as he was so it never happened. 🙂

      1. Me too Sheryl, about 8 years ago I started buying mainly whole foods and cooking them for my meals. Even baking at home is better than buying ready-made sweets!
        Diana xo

  2. I remember my dad bringing home black walnut ice cream as a treat when we lived on our homestead in Alaska. It was winter-we were young-5 kids under 9- and we all got sick from eating too much! Grandma must have had a sugar rush because she had lots to say today! Lol!

  3. We.used to make ice cream with a hand-cranked ice cream maker. We put salt and snow in the outer layer. I can still see Dad’s hands as he turned the crank and pressed down the salt and snow mixture. We made rum and raisin! Jane

    1. mmm. . . rum and raisin ice cream sounds good.

      Thanks for the information about how your family made ice cream. I wasn’t sure if they used snow or ice to make it.

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