ice cream history

Ice Cream History – Ancient times to Modern era

Ice Cream History or History of Ice Cream

Ice cream history remains unproven folklore. From ancient times to modern era there is a chronological progress in the manufacture of ice cream. In the prime meridian part of earth ice cream was valued and delighted in to a great extent by royal individuals. Ice cream was the most loved dessert item for the Caliphs of Baghdad and other wazirs. The Arabians were the first to add sugar to ice cream. They were also the first to make ice cream commercially, having factories in the 10th century. Ice cream was sold in the markets of all Arab cities in the past. The Arabs introduced ice cream to the West, through Sicily. Before the invention of modern refrigeration technology hand cranked freezer was one of the primary invention for ice cream manufacture.

Ice cream History and its Development

The early ice cream history and its manufacture is very limited; however, the product is definitely known to have originated in Europe. In southern Europe Water ices were made in fifteenth century. 

Cream Ice appeared in The Experienced English House Keeper in 1769 as first printed record. Ice cream manufacture has continued to grow in popularity in England, and later in United States. In case of USA surveys prove that ice cream forms a part of the daily consumption and is very much loving American dessert.

There are various factors that contributing to the development of the ice cream industry in developed countries where dairying is one of the major profitable income –

  • Mechanical refrigeration and its application to the food industry.
  • Knowledge about better ingredients concerning ice cream manufacture, resulting in a better final product.
  • Improvement in the manufacturing methods and equipment such as homogeniser, continuous freezer, overrun tester, packaging machine etc.
  • Lower down the manufacturing costs through mass production.
  • Advertising of the product extensively to aware people.
  • Realization of the high food value of ice cream.
  • Better economic conditions, better wages, more purchasing power and a high standard of living among consumers.
  • Facilitate and improved storage conditions for ice cream at household.

Ice cream History – Across the World

Ice cream and China

During the Song dynasty people of China began putting fruit juice in the water used to create the ice. Mongol people introduced milk in China and Milk began to be used in the Yuan dynasty.

Ice cream and India

In India, the Mughal emperors (as early as the sixteenth century) used horsemen to bring ice from the Hind Kush to Delhi where it was used in fruit sorbets. Kulfi is accepted to have been acquainted with South Asia by the Mughal’s victory. It was primarily cool bites and treats / desserts of Arabians and Mediterranean societies. Kulfi is very closely related to Persian ice cream. Kulfi is still a favorite for every Indian.

The History of Ice Cream – IAICM

The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM), Washington DC (in 1978) wrote in “The History of Ice Cream” that Charles – I of England hosted a lavish party hundreds of years ago. The “coup de grace” of the delicacies of the day was cold and resembled fresh fallen snow but was much creamier and sweeter than any other after-dinner dessert. The king believed the delicacy should be served exclusively at the regal table and compensated his French gourmet expert with a lifetime benefits on condition that he didn’t unveil his confidential recipe to anybody, consequently keeping ice cream as an imperial right.

Ice cream and USA

Colonists introduced ice-cream in the USA who brought their ice cream recipes with them., Many of the confectioners were Frenchmen, who sold ice cream at their shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era. Both President George Washington, and President Thomas Jefferson were fond of ice cream and they regularly ate and served ice cream. One more portrayal from lAICM history expresses that Dolley Madison, spouse of U.S. President James Madison, served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball in 1813.

Canadian Ice cream history

Thomas Web from Toronto was the first Canadian to start selling ice cream in 1850. In 1893, William Neilson produced his first commercial batch of ice cream in Toronto, and his company produced ice cream at that location for close to 100 years. “The Science of Ice Cream”, which was a monograph published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, it was expressed that the historical backdrop of ice cream is firmly connected with the advancement of refrigeration technology (by Caroline and Weir, in 1993).

Ice cream was really a luxurious item before the development of the modern refrigeration system, ice cream was reserved for special occasions since ice cream manufacture was a laborious and costly process. 

Ice cream preparation before invention of Refrigeration Technology

Before the invention of refrigeration technology Ice was cut commercially from lakes and ponds during the winter and stored in large heaps in holes in the ground or in wood-frame ice houses, insulated by straw or other dry grasses which were poor in heat transfer. Ice cream was made by hand in a large bowl surrounded by packed ice and salt. The temperature of the ingredients was reduced by the mixture of crushed ice and salt. The brine solution (salt water) was cooled by the ice, and remained liquid below the freezing point of normal water. The immersed container can make better contact with the salty water and ice mixture than it could with ice alone.

Nancy Johnson, in 1846 developed the hand cranked freezer. The labour involved in old process of ice cream manufacturing reduced significantly. Hand cranked freezer is an instrument which is still in use in certain parts of the world. Since, Nancy Johnson did not patent her invention, hence the credit of patenting goes to a Mr. Young. Mr. Young developed a same type of freezer for ice cream making in 1848. This new freezing machine called “Johnson Patent Ice Cream Freezer”.

ice cream history hand cranked freezer
Hand Cranked Freezer [Vintage picture collected]

Commercial production of ice cream began in North America in Baltimore, Maryland, USA as early as 1851 by Mr. Jacob Fussell. Mr Jacob Fussell is the father of the American ice cream industry. Although a hand cranked ice cream freezer was not suitable for large scale production of ice cream for commercial purposes.

The new technology for continuous freezing machine was a milestone for the ice cream industry world wide. The invention of the continuous freezer by Clarence Vogt and subsequent modifications and improvements made by other manufacturers gave an impetus to allow ice cream manufacture to blossom into an industry. In 1807 ice cream cone was used in Paris to serve ice cream and in 2007 there was a bicentenary celebration of the cone.

Ice cream Global Standard

Goff and Hartel (in 2013) have reviewed the minimum standards for the ice cream composition in the major ice cream manufacturing and consuming countries.  They noted that standards were “tightly” specified in some countries such as USA, and a developing trend that “formerly strict compositional standards are being liberalized to allow more flexibility, as in Europe for example”. 

Table below – Minimum standards (Source: Modified from Goff and Hartel (2013)) for ice cream among the major ice cream producing and consuming countries outside of the European Union

CountryMilk fat (%)Milk protein (%)Total milk solids (%)Total solids (%)Food solids per litre (g)Weight per litre (g)
Australia10Not specified168
Brazil3 (Minimum total fat is 8%, the balance can be comprised of non-dairy fat)2.5152475
Canada1036180
United States10 20 192540
New Zealand10168

#Current EU-regulations for ice cream, milk ice and dairy ice cream

Table below showing European industry standards for ice cream, milk ice and dairy ice cream as defined by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011

VariantMSNFProteinsEdible fats
  DairyNon-DairyDairyNon-Dairy
Ice Cream Not specifiedOptionalOptionalDairy and/or non-dairy edible fats mandatory
Milk Ice6.0% minimumMandatoryExcluded2.5% min.Excluded
Dairy Ice Cream Not specifiedMandatoryExcluded5.0% min.Excluded

Ice Cream Indian Standard (FSSAI, Latest by 8th September 2020)

Essential Composition and Quality Factors for Ice Cream.

(a) Raw Material – Milk and milk products.

(b) Permitted ingredients

(i) Sugar and other nutritive sweeteners (e.g. jaggery, dextrose, fructose, liquid glucose, dried liquid glucose, high maltose corn syrup, honey etc.)

(ii) Potable water

(iii) Starch, provided it is added only in amounts functionally necessary as governed by Good Manufacturing Practice, taking into account any use of the stabilizers or thickeners as specified in Appendix ‘A’ (Compendium_Food_Additives_Regulations_08_09_2020) of the regulations.

(iv) Other non-dairy ingredients – eggs and egg products, fruit and fruit products, cocoa, chocolate, coffee,  confectionary, condiments,  ginger and nuts; spices, bakery products such as cookies or cakes.

//There is difference between Ice Cream and Frozen dessert//

Ice cream, Kulfi, Chocolate Ice cream and Softy Ice Cream

The product shall conform to the compositional specifications provided in the table below

ParameterIce cream or Kulfi or Chocolate ice cream or softy ice creamMedium Fat Ice Cream or Kulfi or Chocolate ice cream or softy ice creamLow Fat Ice Cream or Kulfi or Chocolate ice cream or softy ice cream
Total Solids, minimum, %, (m/m)363026
Weight, minimum, g/l525475475
Milk Fat, %, (m/m)10.0 (minimum)More than 2.5 and less than 10.02.5 (maximum)
Milk Protein*, minimum, %, (m/m)3.53.53

*Protein content is 6.38 multiplied by the total nitrogen determined

“Note(s): (i) In case where coating, base or layer of non-dairy ingredients forms a separate part of the product, only the Ice Cream portion shall conform to the respective composition. (ii) When any type of ice cream, kulfi, chocolate ice cream or softy ice cream is offered for sale in contravention of the requirements of sub-item (b) of item 6, the standards prescribed for the type ice cream, kulfi, chocolate ice cream or softy ice cream as per this subregulation shall apply.”

Milk Ice or Milk Lolly

ParameterMilk ice or Milk lolly
Total Solids, minimum, %, (m/m)20
Milk Fat, %, (m/m)2
Milk Protein*, minimum, %, (m/m)3.5

* Protein content is 6.38 multiplied by the total nitrogen determined

“Note: In case where base or layer of non-dairy ingredients forms a separate part of the product, only the milk ice or milk lolly portion shall conform to the above composition.”

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