Last week's very hot weather, for some reason, made me think of making homemade ice cream in one of those old, hand-cranked ice cream freezers. Memories of many years ago remind me of the one my grandfather had that was always used to make homemade ice cream on Thanksgiving Day.
His freezer was a large three- or four-gallon one with a wooden tub. The tub had metal bands around the outside for re-enforcing. If it wasn't used for some time, it had to be kept wet for a few days to swell the wooden slats that made the tub. Otherwise, it would leak.
I'm not sure who cranked the freezer to make the ice cream, but there was always plenty of help available. When one got tired, someone else could take over until the ice cream was frozen.
When the ice cream mixture was beginning to freeze and thicken, the cranking job needed more "muscle power" to finish the freezing. Cranking would stop when the ice cream got so thick it was hard to stir in the freezer. Then the beater would be taken out, and the ice cream packed in more ice and salt to harden or "ripen" as some old timers would say. Letting it set for a couple of hours would allow it to freeze harder and did improve the flavor.
It takes lots of salt and ice to freeze ice cream in one of those freezers, either hand-cranked or one of the more modern ones with an electric motor that you can buy today. Without the salt to melt the water and lower the freezing temperature, you could not get the freezer cold enough to freeze the ice cream.
Lots of recipes are available to make ice cream. Many people have a favorite one that they think makes the best ice cream you have ever tasted. It may have been passed down from generation to generation or perhaps shared by a friend or neighbor.
One of the old books I inherited, "Dr. Chase's Second Recipe Book," printed in 1873, had one recipe for making ice cream. It was interesting to note the way it was worded. Ingredients called for were "morning's milk 3 quarts, nice sweet cream one quart, fresh-laid eggs one dozen, No. 1 coffee sugar one lb. and flavoring." No, I don't know what "coffee sugar" was, but perhaps very fine sugar easily dissolved. You can tell this recipe was written for farm folks from the terms used.
Some years ago, shortly after my retirement from Ohio State University Extension, I took an assignment working in Geauga County. Part of the job involved working with a Graded Feeder Pig Committee, a group that held a monthly auction to sell feeder pigs from Geauga and surrounding counties.
Sometime each summer, the committee had a covered dish meal with a pig roast for their members and families. Since many of the committee were Amish, they were often held in Amish homes. One year, someone brought in a big, five-gallon wooden ice cream freezer and made a batch of great ice cream. I don't know who did all the cranking, but several took turns because, as the mixture began to thicken, it was hard cranking that big freezer.
You can guess that those were great meals with a pig roasted over a spit, homemade ice cream and all those Amish-made dishes. Anyone on a strict diet had a problem.
Like many people, we have one of those four-quart electric ice cream freezers in our basement that we haven't used for some time. We should get it out, wash it up, and make a batch of ice cream, then invite the neighbors over for a great evening's treat.
Why don't you do the same thing and have a nice evening with your neighbors?
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.