(Oh hey, it's me in eighteenth-century garb!)
Many of you will say, "Ice cream? In the eighteenth century? I don't believe you." Well, believe it! The Governor's Palace has an icehouse-- a twenty-foot deep hole made for keeping ice. The Governor (and other wealthy Virginians with icehouses) would have had ice shipped down from the northern colonies in the dead of winter and would have packed it into their icehouses. Ice was cut from lakes and packed with salt and sawdust for shipping, so it wasn't the kind of thing that you would mix in with your drinks. Nor was this a refrigerator-- foods were much fresher then and bought and consumed daily, so there was no need for refrigeration of vegetables, fruits, or meats.
Ice was shipped almost specifically for ice creams, and occasionally for putting around (not into) drinks for a cool treat during the hot summer months. "During the summer months?" you might ask. "Wouldn't the ice have melted?" No. Reports suggest that ice could remain, well, ice, until September or October in the ice house, even if it had been brought in the previous December or January. A test of the Governor's Palace icehouse a decade ago or so confirmed these reports.
Their iced creams, however, differ slightly from our ice cream. Theirs was more like frozen custard. To make eighteenth-century ice cream, you must start out by making a custard. You can flavor it however you want-- fruit ice creams were especially popular with denizens of the eighteenth-century. Since we made chocolate ice cream, we started by grating some pure chocolate that we had made in our chocolate program. We then got together about a dozen egg yolks and five pints of cream in a pot over the fire, taking care not to let it boil. As it heated, we added in the grated chocolate, along with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick. Once the mixture had thickened, we took it off the fire and set it to cool for several hours. We had to cool it, because to make eighteenth-century ice cream you put the custard into a metal canister, set the canister in a bucket, and pack ice around it. If we had put the custard into the canister hot it would have simply melted the ice. Useless.
As it was, we put the cooled custard into the canister, canister into bucket, ice packed around it, and spun. Yes, we spun the canister in the ice, by hand, for two hours. You notice the handle on the lid? It's for spinning. You can also just use your hands and turn the whole canister (as I am doing in the first picture, above). You spin. And spin. And spin some more. As the ice melts you drain it from the bucket, and add in more ice and rock salt-- the rock salt makes the ice colder. We spun for two hours before it was time to clean up the kitchen for closing, and it probably could have used another hour of spinning to harden completely. But ta-da! We made ice cream! Since it melts we can't display it, so I just had to take some home with me.
And it was delicious. :)