Director of Media Relations
MOUNT VERNON, VA – George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, welcomes visitors to learn more about a fascinating side to culinary life in the 18th century through chocolate-ice cream making demonstrations every Saturday in August from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visitors can watch as costumed staff provides a glimpse into the making of one of George Washington’s favorite desserts! Mount Vernon’s team will explain the fascinating process and use reproduction period equipment to demonstrate how ice cream was made in the 18th century.
“The Washingtons would have enjoyed ice cream flavors popular in the 18th century such as oyster, parmesan cheese, and tea ice cream,” said Gail Cassidy, Mount Vernon interpreter.
Before electricity and ice cream specialty stores, the dessert was a popular treat amongst the wealthiest citizens of the colonies. Ice cream dates back to seventh-century China, possibly earlier, according to culinary historians. At Mount Vernon, ice would have been harvested from the Potomac River during the wintertime and stored in an icehouse on the estate. The Washingtons purchased a “cream machine for ice” in 1784. A recipe for ice cream can be found in Martha Washington’s copy of “The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy.” While in Philadelphia as first lady, Martha Washington frequently served ice cream during her weekly receptions. George Washington’s favorite ice cream flavor remains unknown today.
Visitors to Mount Vernon’s ice cream making demonstrations will receive an adapted 18th century recipe for ice cream that they can make at home using plastic bags. For those who don’t want to wait to indulge, ice cream is available for sale at Mount Vernon’s food court. The ice cream demonstrations are included in regular Estate admission: adults, $18; children ages 6-11, $9; and children under 5 are admitted free. Receive a one dollar discount by purchasing your ticket online. For more information and to use the helpful trip planner, please visit MountVernon.org.