The History and Recipes: Shaved Ice, Sorbet & Ice Cream

From the days of emperors and royalty, patriots and citizens, scrapings of ice and creamed ice were cool and refreshing delights. Today, ice cream parlors and creameries, festivals and gatherings feature a variety of flavors to encourage patrons to delight in the refreshing taste of this historical pastime: eating ice cream and sherbets, sorbets and shaved ice.  We as a people can also celebrate “National Ice Cream Month,” a July resolution signed into public law since 1984 by President Ronald Reagan.  While many businesses will be offering new flavors and great specials, July is the perfect month to gather the family and make your own!

History of Shaved Ice:  The language was discovered documented on a scroll, dating back to the fourth century.  Roman emperor, Nero, requested large blocks of ice to be harvested from the mountains, shaved, and topped with fruit mixed with a form of milk.

Shaved Ice with Berries and Yogurt Recipe:                                           

  • Ingredients: 3/4 cup yogurt, one packet of Splenda, one handful of berries, seven ice cubes
  • Directions: Pour yogurt into a bowl and stir in one packet of Splenda.  Carefully fold into the yogurt the handful of berries.  With a food processor, place the ice on “pulse” for 30 to 40 seconds until the cubes are flaky.  Once again, fold the shaved ice into the mixture of yogurt and berries.

History of Sorbet:  Sorbet has a wide-ranging documented history, spanning the Arab, Chinese and Egyptian cultures. One story tells of a Pharaoh who offered visitors a cup of ice mixed with the juices of the fruit.  It is believed Marco Polo brought the basic principles of sorbet back to Italy.  It became a simple, refreshing beverage to cleanse the palate between courses.  As Italians made their way to America, sorbet arrived on the streets of New York by the late 1700s.

Fruit Sorbet Recipe:  When you have a wide range of fresh summer fruit, strawberry and peach sorbet, or raspberry rose sorbet, is a wonderful solution.  It requires just a little creative combination and a basic recipe to follow.

  • Directions: Slice two pounds of fresh fruit.  To make a simple syrup, combine one cup of water with one cup of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for five minutes.  You should have a half cup; allow to cool.  Place fruit in a container and pour syrup overtop.  Blend until liquefied.  Strain, but do not force any solids through the strainer; then, stir the bowl.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice. (Take a quick taste to see if the flavoring is bland or too sweet.)   Refrigerate for one hour.  Pour into an ice cream machine for 10 to 15 minutes.  Freeze for four hours until the sorbet has hardened. Kept in the freezer, sorbet can keep about a month in the freezer.

History of Ice Cream:  Second to Emperor Nero is King Tang of Shang, China of the 6th century, who established a method to combine ice and milk concoctions.  Then it was a Sicilian, working at the Cafe Procopio, who introduced an ice cream recipe to the public around the1660s, which comprised milk, cream, butter, and eggs. When the first American ice cream parlor opened its doors in New York in 1790, George Washington himself, had a bill across one summer totaling $200.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe:

  • Ingredients: 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 cups half-and-half cream, ¾ cup white sugar, one tbs. vanilla extract
  • Directions: In a large bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream and the half and half.  Gradually, add in the sugar, whisk until blended. Add the vanilla.  Refrigerate for at least three hours, or until cold. Whisk the mixture to blend, then into an ice cream maker. Transfer to a covered container and freeze up to 8 hours.

Enjoy National Ice Cream month with a topping of strawberries, peaches, blueberries, or just plain vanilla!


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