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Making Ice Cream in the 1920’s

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My daddy is 96 and has lived alone since my mother died 17 years ago. On this visit I had carried him some homemade peach ice cream that my best friend had made on the fourth. He loved it so I prompted him to talk about how ice cream was made back in the old days. He doesn’t take much prompting to talk about old times!

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My memories of homemade ice cream are a little different! Ice was bought by the bags, and I do remember trips to the “ice house”

The place we went for ice was some back street in Oxford, MS. There was a tall dock on the back side of a building and you would pull up close to the dock in the pickup. There was a huge ice machine on the dock and big, really big blocks of clear ice would he heaved up into the machine using black iron tongs. The machine would start crushing the ice and it was very loud. The crushed ice would come out a slot and into a bag and loaded on to the bed of the pickup.

When we got home, the ice would be placed into the wooden ice cream maker (similar to the one in the image), a layer of ice, a layer of rock salt. The container with the liquid would already be position into the metal container that fit down in the wooden freezer.

 

 

The heavy top would be secured and the handle checked to make sure it would turn right.  The crank would turn the paddle (called a dasher) inside the metal container, stirring the ice cream round and round. Then the layering of the ice and rock salt started.

The ice cream had to be made outside, because the wooden freezer would leak. We would take turns cranking the freezer. It betty crocker first edition picture cook bookwould be easy to start with and got harder and harder as the ice cream began to freeze. We would always be so excited and thought it always took way to long for the ice cream to make.

Mother usually would make vanilla ice cream and it had to be cooked a little bit on the stove before going into the freezer. Sometimes there might be fresh peaches mashed up and put in, but mostly just vanilla. I’m not sure if this was the recipe my mother used, but she swore by Betty Crocker. Here’s the recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

 

 

Betty knew a thing or too about cooking)))

As the ice melted, it and salt would be replenished until the crank got very hard to turn. Daddy would always have to finish up cranking the handle.

The ice cream would be checked to make sure it was about ready and the heavy top and crank removed. A lid was placed on the ice cream container. the hole plugged, and then placed back into the ice again, with more ice packed around it. After a terribly long wait, the ice cream would finally be ready to eat. There was always a fight about who was going to get to lick the paddle. The ice cream was scooped out by mother or daddy using a very long handled spoon. I don’t think there was ever enough left over to be placed in the deep freeze for another time. Yes, brain freeze occurred in the 1950’s too!

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At some point, we got a new ice cream freezer and this one was plastic (much like the one in the image on the right)! No more leaky mess!

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Occasionally instead of home made ice cream, we would have ice cream from Avent Dairy in Oxford, MS. Once a year, the entire family would load up and head to Sardis lake for the annual Willard reunion. My grandparents usually would go a little earlier than mother and daddy because my granddaddy would make a stop at Avent Dairy to get ice cream.

This event was always on a Sunday, so Mr. Avent would go down and open the dairy I guess, so just we could pick up ice cream. The ice cream would be in brown cardboard 5 gallon containers and we usually got two or three containers. Ice cream flavors would be vanilla, chocolate ripple or strawberry. I think it was really named chocolate revel, but we called it chocolate ripple. He would also get ice cream cones. Big, big boxes of ice cream cones. The buckets of ice cream were placed in a jacket like thing made of canvas with padding. The top would be folded over and the ice cream would keep until we were ready for it after lunch. When we arrived at the dairy, we would always get out to “help.” We were usually barefooted and we would walk into this big room sized freezer with my granddaddy and Mr. Avent. We would hop from one foot to the other because the floor was freezing! Once the big containers of ice cream were secured we would head out and Mr. Avent would always say….hey kids….and hand us an ice cream on stick. You can see why we always went in to “help.”

Ice Cream Scoop

My granddaddy or grandmother would always be in charge of the ice cream dipping. If there was any left over after the reunion, it would be put in the deep freeze soon as we got back home and easily finished off by four kids and a granddaddy who loved ice cream. Sometimes we might have black walnut too.

So, making homemade ice cream during my childhood wasn’t nearly so hard as daddy walking three and a half miles….ONE WAY…just to get ice….walking back home and turning the ice cream in a molasses bucket in a tub of ice……. by the light of a coal oil lamp……fast forward to last night.

I looked out the window late in the evening and saw some neighbors walking down the street. Thought to myself, that was nice, getting some exercise…..we should do that.

Then I walked into the kitchen, used my 1950’s scoop and dipped myself a strawberry ice cream cone.

The good old days? I’m not so sure…..

 

 

 

 

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