How to make a Dish of Snow & Ice Houses, November 29th

Photo Zdenek Machacek -unsplash

Tomorrow there is a 10% chance of snow, in London and 95% in Glenn Shee, Scotland, according to the Snow Risk Forecast. So you might like to try this medieval recipe:

To make a dish of Snowe

Take a potte of sweete thicke creme and the white of eight egges and beate them altogether with a spoone then putte them into your creame with a dish full of Rose Water and a dishfull of Sugar withall then take a sticke and make it cleane and then cutt it in the ende fowre square and therewith beate all the aforesayd thinges together and ever as it ariseth take it of and putte it into a Cullander thys done take a platter and set an aple in the middest of it and sticke a thicke bush of Rosemarye in the apple then cast your snowe upon the rosemarye and fill your platter therewith and if you have wafers cast some withall and thus serve them forth

From Medieval Manuscripts, British Library. Blog.

BF – Before Fridges

Before fridges, snow gave the chance for ice cream and other cold desserts. The problem was keeping it for longer than the cold spell. So many Stately Homes had ice-houses. The V&A had an ice-house just outside their glorious, Henry Cole commissioned restaurant. There is an ice house preserved at the Canal Museum, in Kings Cross. It was set up by Carlo Gatti in 1857 to store ice shipped in from Norway. Another one, in Holland Park, dates from 1770 and served the infamous Fox family (PM Charles James Fox etc).

The first ice house was in Mesopotamian, but in the UK they were introduced by James 1 at his palaces in, first, Greenwich Park, and then Hampton Court. An ice house generally consists of a pit in the ground, brick lined, which tapered to a point. Above was a circular, often domed building. The ice was protected by insulation such as straw, and this structure would allow ice to be available all through the summer.

My great-grandmother hung a basket outside the window in winter to keep things cold. On my fridge-less narrow boat, I have been known to keep milk and butter outside the door, and to suspend and submerge wine in a plastic bag in the canal in high summer.

Ice House Dillington, Somerset
Ice House Dillington, Somerset

For more on Icehouses and the history of ice cream, see my post from August.

Written November 28th 2022, revised and republished 2023

August – Time for Ice Cream (And, First Try, AI)

Photo of Ice House in grounds of Keystone Pub, York, from Doubletree Hilton
Ice House in grounds of Keystone Pub, York, from Doubletree Hilton

From my hotel room in York which overlooks the City Wall, near Monk Bar, I noticed a strange brick building dug into the bank in front of the City Wall. ‘Very curious.’ I thought, as I looked, ‘It’s either a kiln or an Icehouse. ‘ A ridiculous place for a kiln, I concluded, and as the weather was nice, I went out to explore.

By Monk Bar (Bar means Gate in York) I found a pub called the Keystones, and through its yard I could see the round brick structure, you can see below.

Ice House in grounds of Keystone Pub, York
Ice House in grounds of Keystone Pub, York

‘Icehouse!’ I thought to myself with increasing confidence, and the ladder to the cavernous conical hole beneath it proved the point. It dates to about 1800.

Detail of Ice House in grounds of Keystone Pub, York

I wrote a brief history of Ice Houses in November 2022, which you can read here.

But it doesn’t say much about ice cream. I have been meaning to write a piece on that subject since I got a great article on the history of Ice Cream from the Friends of the British Museum magazine. I intended to prĂ©cis it and do a little research and include here.

But, in the meantime, I received an email from ‘Jetpack’, a plugin for WordPress users, that offered me an AI plugin, which I wanted to try. So this is the first AI generated piece of information I have ever used.


Ice cream has a long and fascinating history. It’s believed that the ancient Chinese were the first people to eat a form of ice cream, flavoured with fruit and honey. The Persians also had a version of ice cream using ice and grape syrup. In the 13th century, Marco Polo brought the idea of ice cream to Europe from China. The dessert became popular in Italy, where early recipes called for flavoured snow and ice. By the 18th century, ice cream was regularly served in English and American households. Today, ice cream is enjoyed all over the world in many variations and with a plethora of flavours.

Jet Pack AI Generated Text Ends (I’ve improved its UK spelling and grammar.)

Now, settle yourself down with that pistachio and ciocolata gelato and read real writing on the subject of the origins of Ice Cream from the British Museum, and please notice that the ice house pictured below is also, weirdly, just by a City Wall.

British Museum Blog ice-cream-inside-scoop

Blog Page from British Museum showing picture of an ancient Mesopotamian Ice House by a defensive wall.