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Weird History: Victorian Ice Cream Flavors

What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Mine used to be cotton candy. Now, it's probably salted caramel or something with peanut butter cups in it. I like the salty-sweet combo. Though cookie dough is pretty good, too. Does anyone not like cookie dough? All besides the point. Today, ice cream flavors feature just about every sweet flavor on the planet plus the spicy and savory ones. Some are classics—around since the dawn of ice cream—while others are an artisanal trend reflective of the times.

That being said, let's talk about cucumber ice cream.

According to Reader's Digest, ice cream is "one of the world's oldest deserts" and dates all the way back to 200 BCE China. By the Victorian era, there were a wide array of flavors and homemade recipes...including cucumber ice cream. Cooked cucumber was a popular side dish during this time and it was often pureed for ice cream with sugar, lemon juice, ginger brandy, and custard to make ice cream. Colorful dyes were huge in the Victorian era and so cucumber ice cream was dyed green to match the color of the vegetable. Cucumber wasn't the only vegetable-based ice cream flavor back then, either.

In 1885, English business woman Agnes B. Marshall published The Book of Ices—a cookery book that remains historically significant to this day. Cream ice flavors featured include your contemporary standards like chocolate, pistachio, coffee, and strawberry as well as less-mainstream but still fruit/nut-based flavors like apricot, cranberry, plum, chestnut, damson (a type of plum), filbert (hazelnut), and white wine.

Then, things get weird. No judgement. Weird is wonderful. Most of the time. A few of the more unusual 19th century flavors (by today's standards) that Marshal wrote about are cucumber, biscuit, and rice. Honorary mention goes to artichoke ice cream, which isn't in Marshall's book but is listed by the British Museum as a popular flavor during the 18th century. Biscuit sounds like it could be buttery and delicious, but I'm personally leery of strong vegetable flavors in my custard.

If you are further interested in historical ice cream making practices and flavors, The Book of Ices is in the public domain and is available for free online.

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2 commenti

19 ago 2023

I wonder if anyone makes these throw back flavors...

Mi piace

24 mar 2023

Interesting but I'll stick to my Jamoca almond fudge thank you.

Mi piace
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