Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Addy's Ice Orangeade

A refreshing historical treat that's perfect for the middle of summer!

I promised this wouldn't be the last you saw of my ice cream maker, didn't I? After waiting to use it for so long, I'm trying to make up for lost time by actually experimenting with it. The freezer bowl has become a permanent resident of our freezer, and I keep getting ideas and suggestions for bigger and better things to make with it.

The recipe I'm featuring today I stumbled upon almost by accident. Although there are a lot of options out there for Civil War era food, I was having a difficult time finding anything really summery that wasn't strawberry shortcake - and nothing against that, honestly, but I wanted to do something a little less obvious - and then discovered this archive of Civil War era recipes on American Civil War Story for ice orangeade. What's ice orangeade you ask?

A tasty, citrusy sorbet that's really not that hard to whip up in your own kitchen!

But before we get into that, we're going to talk a little bit about the history of ice cream makers.

In Addy's stories, her father finds a broken ice cream maker, fixes it up, and brings it home, meaning Addy gets tasty home made ice cream for her first birthday celebrated in freedom. A doll sized version of this ice cream machine was available for all your doll birthday party needs as a part of Addy's party treats, which was available in some form since 1993 or to up until being retired during the BeForever relaunch. It's made of wood and metal, and comes apart so you can actually see how these hand ice cream machines would have worked. It's a pretty cool accessory, and hopefully it'll make a reappearance with a retooled party set sometime later on like Kit's typewriter or Sam's bike. But Addy's connection to early ice cream machines goes a lot deeper than one being a minor plot point in her birthday story!

After Dolley Madison made ice cream fashionable, people quickly looked for ways to make it easier to make. In 1832, Augustus Jackson - a Black man who left his job working at the White House to move to Philadelphia (Addy's home town!) in the 1820's - invented a prototype for the ice cream churn that would soon become the basis for ice cream machines. There were many ice cream shops owned by Black Americans in Philadelphia, and while Jackson never filed a patent for his invention, he's credited as one of the most important pioneers in the ice cream industry. Eleven years later, a woman named Nancy Johnson patented the hand cranked ice cream freezer like the one Addy's dad brings home in her books. It's fairly uncommon to hear the achievements of anyone who isn't a white man when it comes to inventions, and I thought it was really neat that Addy's stories featured a machine that owes its development to a person of color and a woman. I'd like to hope this was intentional on American Girl's part, but I can't say I remember hearing the full story before doing some research for this post.

The mechanisms for historical hand cranked ice cream makers is pretty similar to personal ice cream makers are today, except obviously the process is more automated. There's a metal bowl that gets placed in a bucket filled with ice, and a churn that's placed in the bowl with the ice cream ingredients.

A bar gets snapped on top to help hold things in place...

Put the handle on, and you're ready to churn!

Samantha had a similar ice cream machine in her original birthday treats set, and it's virtually the same as Addy's in terms of actual mechanics. I seem to remember AG mentioning in a catalog that you could actually make ice cream in these doll ice cream makers, but I thought that was ludicrous looking at Sam's when I was a kid, and I think it's ludicrous as an adult. You're only going to be getting a tablespoon or two of ice cream!

Orangeade was a refreshing drink enjoyed by those who could afford oranges to squeeze and turn into a chilled, sweetened drink, much like lemonade is. Oranges were still sort of a luxury good for most Americans in the 1860's, so it's probably not something Addy and her family would have been drinking on a nightly basis, but this is a treat you can enjoy pretty much any time of year. The preparation is slightly different than the typical orange juice we're used to drinking, and thus the flavor's a little unusual, but still tasty.

Although this recipe involves relatively few ingredients, it is definitely a little labor intensive. At least, it is if you decide you're going to make your own orange juice!

The recipe calls for one and a half pints, so I juiced about seven large oranges. The recipe only calls for six, but I bought extra just to be safe.

This gets combined with a half pint of water and a half pound of powdered sugar, along with the peels of six oranges. Make sure to cut very thin slices of peel - it should really only be the colored part of the skin, not the bitter white part. Hopefully it goes without saying that the oranges should be thoroughly washed before you dump the peels in the juice mixture!

This needs to get chilled in your fridge for about an hour. And if you want, it's perfectly great to drink by itself!

But we're here to make ice orangeade, which basically means using this as a base to make sorbet, so we're continuing as instructed.

After it's been chilled, you can pour it into your ice cream machine and get ready to watch the magic happen. As irrational as this was, I was a little concerned this wouldn't come together well in the machine. After all, this recipe wasn't designed to be put in a modern ice cream machine and - again - like most historical recipes is a little bit vague, leaving you to decide what exactly it means by "proceed as for ice cream" instead of "put the mixture in the machine, turn on, and wait for twenty minutes".

The one real caution here is that when you're making a recipe that wasn't specifically intended for your ice cream machine, you need to make sure you aren't overloading it. If you do, there's potential for spillage or just not mixing correctly. I ended up withholding a little bit of juice just to make sure I wasn't going to have an incident with the machine overflowing.

That's basically what I decided to do, not knowing how long to leave it in and deciding to just see what happened. At first, nothing did, but then slowly, ice crystals started to form in the juice, and then it got thicker and thicker.

After about twenty minutes, I had a pretty decent looking sorbet on my hands!

Unlike the ice cream I made earlier this month, the sorbet was a lot sturdier, and had a similar texture to store bought sorbet. It was a little softer, but it didn't melt as soon as you took it out of the freezer and put it into a bowl.

Technically, you're supposed to put this in molds - shaped like pineapples, apparently - but since we didn't have any, we just scooped it into bowls to enjoy.

And overall? It was pretty tasty! Admittedly, I had moments of thinking it was a little bit too bitter for my tastes, and I wonder if it's because we used too much orange peel. That's really what made this taste difference than just sweetened fresh squeezed orange juice - the oils from the peel made it have a really strong, slightly bitter citrus flavor that was really noticeable both in juice and frozen form. The oranges we used to make this were definitely larger than the oranges of the Civil War era, so I'm wondering if the skins of six oranges really should have been like, three modern orange skins. I guess it's something to keep in mind for next time!

My mom, on the other hand, seemed to really like it even with the slightly bitter taste, and I caught her eating the leftovers a couple days after I made this. She said it was almost too sweet for her sometimes, but I really don't think it was. There was enough sugar in it to make it taste like a dessert, but not enough to feel like you were melting your teeth biting into it.

Although I'm glad this wasn't something I had to make entirely by hand, it was a lot of fun to try out this unusual, authentic historical dessert. Strawberry shortcake would have been fun, too, but when else have I ever made ice orangeade?

Besides, there's still the whole rest of the summer!


  1. Oh wow, I had no idea that ice cream makers were designed by a black man! Black Excellence. I have Addy's Ice Cream Maker--it was hers first, then added as is to Samantha's collection. AG has set a precedence for spreading items around.

    I have an ice cream maker in my house, but it's hand crank. I'd love to get a automated one one of these days. I use it to make mint ice cream since it's the only way I can ever have it. I'm thinking of using my dried mint from my plants and making some more.

    1. Ooh, that might be an excellent way to use some of the mint in my mom's planter! And right? I'm so surprised it never came up in reference to Addy having one. Black history + women's history = incredibly relevant to our girl Addy.

  2. God Bless Augustus Jackson!

    1. Right? Talk about an invention that's difficult to imagine living without!