Jefferson ice cream recipe

American Treasures of the Library of Congress, Library of Congress. "Jefferson's Recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream." 1780's

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In the 1780's Thomas Jefferson went to France and was introduced to ice cream. He wrote down the recipe to take home and enjoy his own homemade ice cream. Thomas Jefferson's guests quite often enjoyed a cool dish of this delicious homemade ice cream.

A copy of his hand written recipe is on the right and below a transcription, in case you have trouble reading his handwriting.


A Sabottiere is from the French word: sorbetière; it was the canister in which the ice cream mix was placed to freeze in a pail of Ice and salt.

'prise' is French for 'holdfast' or seize-up ; i.e set


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


  1. Mix the yolks & sugar put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.when near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar.stir it well.
  2. Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it's sticking to the casserole. when near boiling take it off and strain it thro' a towel.
  3. Put it in the Sabottiere then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt, put ice all around the Sabotiere i.e. a layer of ice a layer of salt for three layers
  4. Put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere & cover the whole with ice, leave it still half a quarter of an hour.
  5. Then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes
  6. Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabotiere.
  7. Shut it & replace it in the ice
  8. Open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula.
  9. Put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. then put the mould into the same bucket of ice.
  10. Leave it there to the moment of serving it. to withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out & turn it into a plate.
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