Summertime means ice cream, and the green color and the crunchy bits of pistachio make an exotic ice cream to enjoy.
This is Just a Test
I always wanted to try making my own ice cream. For this project, a friend loaned me her ice cream maker just to test it before I invested my own. Homemade ice creams are very easy to make and are a fun weekend family project. Home ice cream makers usually come with booklets of simple recipes that do not contain any artificial colors or flavors, but unlike commercially made ice creams, they melt a little faster because they do not contain thickeners, such as Xanten gum. If the recipe calls for whole milk, do not try to improve it by substituting it for cream (as I tried to do). The resulting ice cream will be “too rich” tasting.
Ice Cream vs. Gelato
Gelato, meaning “frozen” in Italian, is a type of ice cream that does not contain egg yolks. It has similar ingredients as ice cream, just in different proportions. It is churned at a much slower speed, incorporating less air, and is served not completely frozen.
Ice cream is custard-based and is usually described as creamier and fluffier than gelato. It also contains more cream than milk, which means it has more fat, up to 25% fat, compared to gelato’s 4-9%. Ice cream is churned at a high speed to control the size of the ice crystals and to add air, which can be 30-50% of the ice cream’s volume. There is also a soft-serve version of ice cream that is not previously frozen in vats for hours.
I have always been fascinated by the fact that beverages have been cooled and ice cream has been made long before the invention of the refrigerator. In the desert, nomadic people have been cooling beverages since ancient times by wrapping wet rags around them. The explanation is simple physics: water carries away heat when it evaporates, leaching heat out of the container. (for the same reason, wearing a wet swimsuit makes us cold – a fun trivia). After his travels to the East, Marco Polo brought recipes for frozen fruit waters back to Europe with him. Since the 1500s, the Medici court of Italy and the courts of India and Turkey used this method to cool their summer beverages.
Ice Before Ice Boxes
Ice houses, which are deep wells or caves, were used for keeping foods cool before the invention of the refrigerator. In the winter time, blocks of ice were cut out of mountains, lakes, or rivers, packed in straw, and moved to ice houses for food storage in the summer. Chunks of ice were also crushed and used directly in the kitchen. This practice dates back centuries.
The Victorians had an invention of their own. They used a hand-cranked ice cream machine, where zinc-lined vessels were sitting in a pewter jar filled with mix or ice and salt around it, all of this fitted in a wooden bucket. The salt lowered the temperature of the ice to around -4F, and when the mixture was churned, it quickly froze.
The Invention of the Fridge
There is no exact answer to who was “the first” inventor of the refrigerator, but in 1805, Oliver Evans, an American inventor, designed a blueprint for the first refrigeration machine; however, the first prototype using his plans was not built until 1834.
Although commonly thought of as nuts, pistachios (Anacardiaceae) are actually the seeds of a plant belonging to the cashew family. Pistachios are synonymous with Sicily, where some say the best quality pistachios are grown, but California, Iran, and Turkey are also big producers. Nuts from each location have differences in their flavor, texture, and size. Their harvest time is late summer to early fall. Pistachios contain 20% protein, vitamin E, potassium, copper, and phosphorus, making them good for the eyes and the brain. Pistachios have been enjoyed since ancient times; they are mentioned in the Old Testament and in Middle Eastern medicinal books. Their oil is still used in the modern cosmetic industry. It takes eight to ten years for the plant to produce pistachio nuts, and they are harvested in a similar fashion to olives. Pistachios or pistachio paste can be purchased at local ethnic markets and specialty stores.
Make sure the paste you purchase has at least 40% pistachio content.
Ice Cream Maker Tips
The bowl of the ice cream maker must be completely frozen before starting, which takes 16 and 24 hours, depending on your freezer. Shake the bowl to make sure it is completely frozen within the double walls of the bowl. If you do not hear the liquid moving, the cooling liquid is adequately frozen, and you are ready to start. The bowl will begin to defrost quickly, so use it immediately after removing it from the freezer. All ingredients must be added to the freezer bowl after the ice cream maker is turned on. The ice cream will be done in about 20 minutes. Store the finished ice cream in an airtight container, not in the ice cream maker freezer bowl.
Pistachio Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 7 oz pistachio paste
- Gather your ingredients
- Make a slurry by mixing 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch until the starch is smooth.
- Heat the remaining milk and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. When nearly boiling, stir in the cornstarch mixture.
- Cook at a gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and chill overnight.
- Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Enjoy and share with friends!
Rose’s ice cream bliss by Rose Levy Beranbaum and Matthew Septimus
Call Number: 641.862 BERANBAU
Publication Date: 2020
The book of ice cream by Lydia Capasso and Simone de Feo
Call Number: 641.862 CAPASSO
Publication Date: 2020
Call Number: 641.862 BRAUN
Publication Date: 2016
Sweet enough by Alison Roman and Chris Bernabeo
Call Number: 641.86 ROMAN
Publication Date: 2023
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