Presidential ice cream – Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla – ICE CREAM NATION

Like most of us, a number of US Presidents have expressed their love for ice cream: one thing which started a lot sooner than with the well-known ice cream followers Biden, Obama and Reagan! The data present that ice cream was served already on the property of the primary President George Washington. However the first recorded American recipe for ice cream originates from Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and third President of the USA. A prototype for American, Philadelphia-style ice cream then? Oh no – it is a recipe from France, the place Jefferson served as a diplomat after the American struggle of independence and across the dramatic occasions of the French revolution.


Thomas Jefferson by Peale

Thomas Jefferson – not solely one of many “Founding Fathers” of the USA but in addition credited with writing down one of many earliest American ice cream recipes – a feat made attainable by Jefferson’s earlier years spent in France.


Whereas Jefferson’s legacy as a statesman is undisputed, his private qualities as a person dwelling by his personal ideas have been extra debated. Many discover it deeply unsettling that the “enlightened” Jefferson, principal creator of the Declaration of independence, and – in precept – a staunch opponent to slavery, apparently had few qualms about proudly owning loads of slaves himself. And most historians as we speak agree that Jefferson additionally had a 4 many years lengthy relationship together with his a lot youthful, mixed-race slave (and half-sister to his late spouse) Sally Hemings: a liaison which resulted in six kids, additionally born into slavery. A love story, a matter of slave-owner’s would possibly, or one thing in-between? – Nicely, who can actually inform as we speak.

Whereas loads has been written about Thomas and Sally, we are going to commit some consideration to Sally’s brother James Hemings. Jefferson introduced him alongside to France, the place he was put to check wonderful French cooking below French cooks and pâtissiers. So it was doubtless because of expert underlings like James and the French butler Adrien Petit that Jefferson might carry again loads of refined French delicacies and cooking abilities to the states (James was –  like his sister Sally – a slave however ultimately managed to barter his freedom. Just a few years later, nevertheless, he tragically killed himself below circumstances that indicated that he – like many others within the restaurant sector to this very day – had developed alcohol issues).

In different phrases, Jefferson most certainly didn’t spend any time on ice cream making himself, however left that to his expert servants. Eating friends’ accounts inform us that ice lotions appear to have been a frequent dessert (some even point out ice lotions enclosed in heat pastry … some early sort of Mochi?!). Jefferson’s property Monticello had a near-by river and its personal ice home, so it appears that evidently ice was assured all year long!

Jefferson’s (French) vanilla ice cream recipe

Ice cream had already been launched within the US, however Jefferson is credited with writing down the primary ‘American’ ice cream recipe and as you may see, even doing it in a fairly legible manner! Nowadays, the doc is safely saved within the US Library of Congress. And whereas Jefferson held the pen, the recipe is believed up to now again to his time in France and originate from his trusty French butler/dessert specialist Adrien Petit.

Jefferson’s hand-written recipe for vanilla ice cream, now within the Library of Congress.


Right here is it, in case you need assistance to decipher Jefferson’s handwriting:

2 bottles of excellent cream
6 yolks of eggs
1/2 lb. sugar

combine the yolks & sugar
put the cream on a fireplace in a casserole, first placing in a stick of Vanilla.

when close to boiling take it off & pour it gently into the combination of eggs & sugar.

stir it properly.

put it on the fireplace once more stirring it totally with a spoon to stop it’s sticking to the casserole.

when close to boiling take it off and pressure it thro’ a towel.

put it within the Sabottiere

then set it in ice an hour earlier than it’s to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt.

put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere & cowl the entire with ice.

go away it nonetheless half 1 / 4 of an hour.

then flip the Sabottiere within the ice 10 minutes

open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the internal sides of the Sabotiere.

shut it & substitute it within the ice

open it on occasion to detach the ice from the edges

when properly taken (prise) stir it properly with the Spatula.

put it in moulds, justling it properly down on the knee.

then put the mould into the identical bucket of ice.

go away it there to the second of serving it.

to withdraw it, immerse the mould in heat water, turning it properly until it’s going to come out & flip it right into a plate.






How a lot is “a bottle of cream”? or Jefferson’s ice cream recipe barely modernised

Obscure or outdated models of measurements in older ice cream recipes could be bewildering, and Jefferson’s one isn’t any totally different. Fortunately for us, Marie Kimball, creator of “Thomas Jefferson’s Prepare dinner Ebook”, has proposed ‘modernised’ quantities so I went along with her quantity of cream right here.

What sort of cream, it’s possible you’ll ask? Nicely – right here I did some dairy analysis of my very own and realised that in Jefferson’s days, the fats content material of cream was often uneven and customarily a lot decrease than as we speak (this modified solely with the later technical invention of the milk-cream separator): in different phrases, greatest to keep away from double cream and use some sort of lower-fat cream if you wish to find yourself with one thing extra true to the unique! (I went with a cream of 33 % fats, which labored wonderful. However for even better authenticity, you could possibly most likely go a bit decrease nonetheless).

In any other case, essentially the most notably distinction between the unique and the modernised recipe might be that I (like Kimball) use extra vanilla than what Jefferson dictated: his quantity maybe a mirrored image of how terribly costly vanilla will need to have been on the time (thoughts you – vanilla remains to be the world’s second costliest spice, after saffron).

Do you’ve gotten an historical ice cream sabottiere? Or maybe another sort of excellent ol’ hand-cranked ice cream machine? Good for you! You may replicate Jefferson’s course of too, then.

What follows beneath, nevertheless, is a extra fashionable take which assumes that you’ve got an ice cream machine (or a minimum of a family fridge, so you may still-freeze ice cream). Once more, if you wish to be extra fashionable, be happy to skip the standard “staged” method to creating custard ice cream – which I nevertheless reproduced within the recipe beneath to guard historic accuracy –  and simply add all of the substances in a sauce pan from the beginning (the extra Modernista method which I personally have a tendency to make use of on a regular basis for custards).

A traditional staged method to custards begins with whisking the sugar and the egg yolks. Nevertheless, I’ll depart from the unique recipe and put together the custard base the trendy manner: by mixing all of the substances from the beginning after which carry it as much as the so-called Nappe stage.

Reaching the Nappe stage (roughly within the temperature bracket of 82-84º Celsius /189-183 ºF) is necessary each to make sure that the egg yolks have accomplished their “stabilising job” but in addition to make sure that they’ve been correctly pasteurised. A kitchen thermometer is at all times helpful, in any other case depend on rule of thumb-estimates just like the Spoon check (described on the weblog).

The Jefferson base is prepared! Now, let it quiet down and ideally chill a few hours or in a single day earlier than churning (or still-freezing, in case you don’t have an ice cream machine).

Since somewhat salt tends to reinforce the (vanilla-) flavour, I took the freedom of including a pinch: that is, nevertheless, not a part of the unique recipe so exclude if you wish to go for fullest attainable authenticity 😉 .

A Presidential ice cream standing the check of time?

Jefferson’s French vanilla ice cream – Mmmm!

Certainly – there’s nothing to complain about right here, and all lovers and connaisseurs of beautiful vanilla ice cream French fashion ought to undoubtedly strive it out!

Jefferson’s French vanilla is superb, wealthy and nice, and the consistency can also be good (though extended storage within the freezer most certainly would require some prior thawing earlier than serving – one thing which tends to be the case with most high quality home-made ice lotions. As famous, the lotions of previous days had been seldom as fats because the lotions we’re used to as we speak so I strongly recommend that you simply stick with cream with rather less fats when making ready this one (no double cream, as an illustration!). Not solely will it make the ice cream extra genuine however you’ll additionally keep away from the danger of ending up with one thing it’s possible you’ll discover too creamy and fats overly wealthy. 

PS. Like all good vanilla ice lotions, this one can also be an ideal selection for while you desire a good ice cream base for different flavours, add-ins or add-ons! 


Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla ice cream



  • 2 bottles [about 1 quart / 950 ml] of “good cream” (33 % needs to be wonderful; you may most likely go even decrease and do keep away from utilizing too fats cream!)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ lb. (about 225 ml) sugar
  • 1 stick of vanilla [original] OR 2 teaspoons of (real) vanilla powder of excellent high quality
  • (optionally available, though not authentic: pinch of salt)
  1. Beat the egg yolks till “thick and lemon-colored”.
  2. Add, regularly, 1 cup (about 225 ml) of sugar [and, possibly, a pinch of salt].
  3. If utilizing vanilla bean – break up it, and add the seed and the bean to the bottom now.In any other case, add the vanilla powder.
  4. Convey the cream to an almost- boil after which slowly pour it, little by little, into the egg combination. Whisk properly.
  5. Put again on the range, whisk usually till the bottom thickens [ happens around about 82-84º Celsius /180-183 ºF], then take away and pressure via a wonderful sieve right into a bowl.
  6. Let quiet down.
  7. Chill earlier than churning in your ice cream machine.
  8. If in case you have no ice cream machine, still-freeze utilizing your fridge (see the put up about methods to greatest do the latter).

In case you do not need to hassle with the traditional “staged method” to creating custard ice cream, do like me and go the “Modernista manner”: merely mix all of the substances in a saucepan from the very begin, whisk and convey all of it to the Nappe stage 😉


President Joe Biden: one other confirmed ice cream lover!


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