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Hartselle Enquirer

Bring on the ice cream

By Clif Knight

It’s hard to beat a bowl of homemade ice cream on a hot summer day such as what we had last Saturday.

Geanell and me had that thought in mind when we began checking off the list of ingredients we needed. We found everything we needed was available except ice cream salt. We went grocery shopping with that single item on our list. After visiting all three of Hartselle’s grocery stores, we got he same answer, “Sorry, we’re out of that item and don’t know when it will be restocked.”

We returned home disappointed, wondering how could it be possible that all three shelves where the item is usually found were empty? Obviously, the heat of day was greater than the supply of ice cream salt. As potential shoppers of this product, we’ll do a better job of buying ahead and encouraging the middle man supplier to do the same.

The process of making ice cream as one way to beat the heat on a hot summer day is something that has changed a lot since I was a little boy. Back then, water was frozen in an ice house in the form of 100-lb. blocks and sold by the block to the customer. It would require a 25-lb. block to make a gallon of ice cream. The ice was stored overnight in a bin of cotton seed and crushed in a burlap sack before being used in a makeshift ice cream freezer. The mix was placed in a one-gallon syrup bucket and hand-twisted in a 10-quart feed bucket, In the absence of a paddle, the mix would freeze to the inside of the syrup bucket. Every few minutes, the syrup bucket would be opened and a knife was used to scrape off the frosted sides of the bucket. This procedure was repeated several times until the ice cream was frozen and served.

The turning or twisting of the syrup bucket handle was a job handled by strong able bodied adults or kids, taking turns every 10 or 15 minutes. The turning process required about two hours.

Thankfully, the process has been greatly approved over time. A paddle is rotated by an electric motor to the tune of about 35 minutes from start to finish. If the motor is removed and the freezer is insulated with a blanked, the ice cream will continue to harden about an hour.