Melt – in – the – Mouth Ambrosia……Guest Blogger Don Harker
Home Made Peach Ice Cream
Making ice cream when I was a child was not quite as simple an exercise as it is now. The small prairie town in Canada of the early 1940′s did not have an ice manufacturer. In fact, few people had electric refrigerators. The preparations for making ice cream had to be planned at least 6 months in advance. The preparations involved the cutting of ice that formed over the local creek during the hard freeze of the winter. The low winter temperatures provided a layer of ice 18 to 24 inches thick. Using large iron ice-saws, the men of the town cut the layer of ice into large blocks. With huge ice – tongs pulled by horses, the blocks of ice were dragged from the creek and loaded onto sledges to be hauled to a disused granary. Here, the blocks of ice were stored between thick layers of ash or sawdust to insulate against the coming spring and summer temperatures. On the morning of the big event, grandfather and I would go to the ice house and uncover enough ice to freeze the cream. Usually a chunk weighing from 50 to 60 pounds. An axe was used to break the very large blocks into more useful sizes. After retrieving the amount of ice needed , the remaining ice was carefully re-covered to preserve it from the warmth of summer. Then home to start the churning. Making ice cream was always a whole – family project. Grandfather milked the two Jersey cows that were kept in a small corral and barn at the back of the garden. I helped carry the buckets of milk to the house where grandmother placed a clean cotton cloth over the bowl of the cream separator to remove any debris and gently poured the milk through. Grandmother took great pride in the mixtures and flavours she made for the ice cream. Only the freshest ingredients found their way into her mix. For custard based mixes, the eggs collected that morning were saved for the ice cream. Two day old cream was used for the ice cream. Very fresh cream does not whip well. The mix was always made a day ahead of time since it had to cool, and remember we didn’t have a refrigerator. from Don Harker’s Ice Cream book.
Don made ice cream with his Grandmother since he was a young boy and continues to make it for us every year. Only it’s easier to get the ice now. Fresh ingredients are still of prime importance - from the fruit used – peaches in this case – to the cream and eggs. No we don’t have chickens or cows. He has tried out dozens of different ice cream makers over the years and still always returns to the hand cranked model that you see in the pictures. We have been trying for many years to get all of the stages of making a batch of ice cream in photographs. Here are a few of the many photos that I took of making ice cream with Don. One of our students in the photo – Pennie and her class – Bellflowers. had samplings. – Gail