Ice Cream Made the Old-Fashioned Way

— by Hannah Lee

Have you ever wondered how people made ice cream before Baskin-Robbins and Häagen-Dazs? The latter’s founder was a Polish-American Jew, Reuben Mattus, and he told Joan Nathan for her 1995 book, Jewish Cooking in America, “In those days, we bought the ice from the Great Lakes in the winter and buried it with sawdust in pits in the ground until summer.” Last month, my family was vacationing in Scotland, and there I learned how to make ice cream without a freezer. This would be a great project to do with children or for anyone — like me — who’s intimidated about using an ice cream machine.

This is a recipe from Signe Johansen’s 2011 book, Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking: Combine one kg of crushed ice and 200 g of salt dissolved in 300 ml water.  Put your ice cream custard in a metal bowl and submerge within the larger bowl of icy brine. A mere 30 minutes later, you can serve the ice cream straight from the bowl.

I used a recipe for vegan pistachio ice cream from the May/June 2011 issue of Joy of Kosher that I’d dog-eared for testing. I have my very handy digital scale but not having an automatic ice maker on my refrigerator, I got a large bag of ice (free!) from my friendly kosher grocer, Rob Bender of R & R Produce and Fish. I used kosher salt, which was harder to dissolve, necessitating much stirring and nuking in the microwave.  The result is more soft-serve frozen custard than the hard-packed ice cream. B’Tayavon.



  1. leebarzel says

    The publisher passed on a comment from a chemist friend that while heating in the microwave will help dissolve the salt, it will also heat the water, so it is necessary to let the water cool once it goes into solution.

    I later read that ice cream made in an ice cream machine uses rock salt in its regular shape (not dissolved).

    And, I totally forgot about serving my first batch to my guests!

    Hannah Lee

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