Welcome back to an A to Z of discoveries at Kiplin Hall and Gardens. Today we explore the art and history of ice cream making.
Although you may think of ice cream making as a modern undertaking, it does in fact have historical, and artistic, roots. As part of the Annie Marchant Kitchen and Dairy Collection Kiplin owns some beautiful examples of ice cream moulds from the Victorian era. The example pictured is a particularly lovely swan shaped mould. Swans were a popular motif in Victorian times and often featured on butter presses and pastry cutters reminiscent of the elaborate table centre displays of actual swans which were a popular dish at royal courts in the past. Today the elegant birds are not seen on tables but are resident on the lake at Kiplin alongside geese, heron, and an array of frogs, water loving insects and flora.
Without modern freezers, ice and ice cream was something to be enjoyed by the upper classes in the Victorian period. But even without electricity ice cream could be made domestically. A book called “The Book of Ices”, by Agnes Marshall, published in 1885 describes making ice cream in a specially patented zinc lined machine in just 3 minutes! A mixture of ice and salt was used to cool a central pewter jar. Salt lowers the temperature of ice making the jar very cold. Cream and other ingredients can then be churred in the jar and transferred to moulds. These moulds could then be stored in an ‘ice cave’, a metal box in a wooden chest filled with more ice and salt.
There were even huge commercial ice houses, like underground freezers, that used ice shipped across the sea from Newfoundland and Alaska. Modern experiments have proven their effectiveness at keeping cold for over a year. Although there is no physical evidence of a large ice house at Kiplin it is clear from documents in the archive that the estate had one. In 1849 the 4th Earl of Tyrconnel, John Delaval Carpenter, writes in his diary on 4th January “Frosty still and after and after 3 hard days we were able fill the ice house today.” The accounts of the time also show fees to buy ice and payments for labourers to fill the ice house.
Visitors to Kiplin today can enjoy homemade ice cream from the Tea Room. Soft fruits from the ample walled garden are used in recipes likes Strawberry Cream and Raspberry Ripple. Many of the recipes are made seasonally or soft fruits are frozen after picking to be used later in ice cream and jam making. Other unusual ice cream flavours at Kiplin include Lemon Curd and Bramble Swirl! Although today they are served in take away tubs, rather than elaborate moulds.
Kiplin Hall and Gardens, including the museum, are now open to visitors 6 days a week. The museum also features the new exhibition “Introducing the Annie Marchant Kitchen and Dairy Collection”. No booking is required, you can buy tickets online HERE if you wish, or on arrival at Kiplin.