Fremont County, Iowa

A Special Frozen Treat
by Sherry Perkins
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of March 7, 2017

“You Scream…….. I Scream……We all Scream for Ice Cream!” Remember how much fun it was to say those words when we were kids? Eating ice cream up to the early 1900s was a big treat. There were no freezers or refrigeration. If someone made a concoction, they called it ice cream. It needed to be eaten quickly because it melted faster than you could say “Jack Rabbit”. But all of this was worth it because the treat was such a special one.

Hand cranked ice cream freezers came into existence in about 1843. A woman by the name of Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia was the inventor. Several companies produced them but the one considered the best was made by White Mountain Company. The freezer was an oak bucket with a smaller metal container that fit inside. On the top was a contraption of gears and handle to turn the gears which turned the dasher. Ice was crushed and placed between the bucket and metal container. Then salt was sprinkled over the ice. The amount of salt was always an issue because it was the key to getting the temperature of the ice low enough to make the ice cream hard. The dasher in the can turned, the mixture of milk, eggs, vanilla and cream gradually froze.

Sounds simple right? Not so much. Ice came in blocks of 50 pounds or more. Crushing was done by placing it in a gunny sack to keep the ice from flying all over when it was hit with a mallet or an axe. It was a job for outside. During the freezing process, kids thought it was great fun to turn the crank until the ice cream became very hard. When the handle would go no more, it was finished. The ice and salt were carefully remove from the top and the lid removed to take out the dasher. Oh how great it was to have the first taste of ice cream from the dasher! We never let ice cream “cure” by packing it in more ice. We couldn’t wait to eat it!

In pioneer days before the invention of the freezer, “snow” ice cream was all that was available and of course that was only in winter. A big wet snow was ideal. We went to the deepest drifts with a big enamel dish pan and used the cleanest snow. Back inside a cream and sugar mixture was gradually stirred into the snow until you could get no more. It was then ready to eat and none of us stood back because we hadn’t had any since last winter.

2 eggs beaten
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cup sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups cream, milk or half & half
Lots of clean SNOW
Mix together adding snow last. Eat immediately!

Snow ice cream is a lost technique. Some declare it unsafe because of impurities in the snow and raw eggs. This may be true but who’s going to let a little impurity keep you from pretending you are a pioneer on the lonWhat a treasure it would be if every town in Fremont County would check back in their history and see if they can find this kind of early information about their businesses. If such records exist, please contact the Fremont County Historical Society, Box 671, Sidney, Iowa 51652, to see how the stories can be saved in their files and shared through our View from the Attics.


Return to View From the Attic Page

Return to Fremont County Home

Page updated on February 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau