Ice-cream is fascinating, and it does have a fascinating history too.

Ice and cream

  • No introduction required.
  • It is a colloidal emulsion which is made into a foam by incorporating air and then frozen.
  • Ice cream is a mixture of water, ice, milk fat, milk protein, sugar and air.
  • The mixture is stirred well to incorporate air and is cooled below the freezing point and stored as semi-solid foam stored at low temperatures.

The accepted composition of ice-cream in the US according to Wikipedia (all percentages by weight):

  • Greater than 10% milkfat and usually between 10% and as high as 16% fat in some premium ice creams
  • 9 to 12% milk solids-not-fat: this component, also known as the serum solids, contains the proteins (caseins and whey proteins) and carbohydrates (lactose) found in milk
  • 12 to 16% sweeteners: usually a combination of sucrose and glucose-based corn syrup sweeteners
  • 0.2 to 0.5% stabilisers and emulsifiers
  • 55% to 64% water, which comes from the milk or other ingredients.


  • The ice cream was consumed during the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BC. Ice was mixed with flavours and consumed during the summertime.
  • Persians also invented a dish with ice, rose water and vermicelli which was a primitive version of Falooda. This was mostly reserved for the Royals.
  • Greeks weren’t behind, they also invented snow mixed with honey and fruits which was also sold in the markets of Athens.
  • Hippocrates advocated eating ice.
  • China invented the real primitive form of ice-cream using milk and rice around 200 B.C. Snow and saltpetre was poured outside of containers filled with syrups to reduce the melting point.
  • A few centuries later, during the time of Nero, ice was bought from the mountains to Rome and combines with fruits and served as delicacies.
  • Marco Polo bought the recipe back to Europe.
  • In India, ice was shipped in from Hindukush mountains and used in sorbets and in making Kulfi which came into existence around 16th century.
  • Italian Dutchess Catherine de Medici married Henry II of France in 1533 and bought some Italian chef’s along with her who made flavoured ice. Flavoured ice became popular in France.
  • Italian Francesco dei Coltelli opened an ice cream café in 1651 in Paris which became popular. During the next 50 years around 250 cafés opened in Paris.
  • Charles I of England was fond of ice-cream and paid his chef to not to give away the recipe.
  • By the mid-eighteenth century, ice-cream became popular in the United States as well. George Washington was a big fan.
  • By the mid-nineteenth century, ice-cream became inexpensive and available to common people. This was mainly due to Carlo Gatti setting up a stand outside of Strand in 1851. He sold a scoop for one penny. He imported ice from Norway.
  • Agnes Marshall popularised many ice-cream recipes in England.
  • Ice-cream appeared in Greece in 20th century.


  • Before refrigerators, ice-cream was meant only for the rich upper class. Ice was hard to come by.
  • Ice-cream was made in using the pot freeze method where a large bowl was kept in a tub of ice and salt.
  • The mixture of salt and ice cooled the temperature of the ingredients within the bowl.
  • Salt partially melts the ice allowing it to absorb the latent heat and thus brings the temperature of the ingredients below the freezing point of water. This helps in freezing milk which has a lower freezing point.
  • First, large-scale production in the US was by Jacob Fussell of Baltimore.


  • Sundae: A type of ice-cream with one or more scoop of cream and syrup. It was a variation of ice-cream soda and due to restrictions on consuming soda on Sundays, soda was replaced with syrup. To avoid religious conflict changed the spelling to “ice-cream sundae”.
  • Ice-cream cone: Agnes Marshall’s cookery book had a recipe for serving ice cream in cones, but the practice is believed to be existing before that.
  • Faludah or Faloodeh: Popular Iranian ice-cream with vermicelli, rose water and sugar syrup.
  • Gelato: Italian frozen dessert with a lower milk fat content than ice cream.
  • Ice-cream sandwich: A bar of ice-cream sandwiched between two cookies.
  • Frozen yoghurt: Made with yoghurt instead of milk or cream.

Present day

  • The US is the major consumer of ice-cream with about 23 litres per capita followed by Australia and New Zealand.
  • India is one of the largest producers of ice-cream and most of the production is consumed domestically.

unsplash-logoHarnish Ganatra