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Asparagus Ices

Mrs Marshall's Asparagus Ices

Asparagus Ices from Agnes Marshall's The Book of Ices

The tradition of making novelty ices in the form of vegetables, fruits and other food items seems to have started in late seventeenth Naples, where moulded sorbetti were known as pezzi duri (hard pieces). A pewter mould for making asparagus ices is illustrated in Gillier's Canammeliste francaise (Nancy: 1750). By the 1860s these moulds were to be found at ‘most ironmonger's', so bunches of ice cream or water ice asparagus seem to have become popular by this time with Victorian diners. They were frequently illustrated in nineteenth and early twentieth century cookery texts, such as the works of Agnes Marshall, Theodore Garrett and John Kirkland. American mould manufacturers were still making asparagus moulds in the 1950s, though by this time, they had become much stouter in order to facilitate easy demoulding.

A nineteenth century sorbetiere with its spaddle and oak pail. Until the middle of the nineteenth century all ices were made using this basic equipment.

The earlier, narrow moulds are not easy to use, as the asparagus ices are difficult to turn out without breaking. They should be dipped into cold water for about twelve seconds and the ices rolled out onto a clean table napkin with the finger tips, rather than the point of a knife, which is usual with most other ice moulds.

Mrs Agnes Marshall

Mrs Agnes Marshall

Above top: an eight-inch high, three part mould for creating a bundle of ice cream asparagus. Below is a much smaller hinged garnishing mould for making a miniature bunch.

Rosseline Bombe

Click the Rosseline Bombe to find out more about ice puddings.

Imitation Asparagus in Ice Cream

To produce this fancy ice you will require at least eighteen asparagus moulds made in pewter, and procurable at most ironmongers.

Prepare a quart of vanilla cream ice and half a pint of green pistachio ice, or a spoonful of spinach greening mixed with a fourth of the vanilla cream ice will serve the purpose. Use the white ice to mould two-thirds of the asparagus, adding the bud end with the green composition. The asparagus must be imbedded in rough ice for at least an hour, and turned out of their moulds, placed upon paper on the shelves of an ice cave for another hour, in order that they may become frozen perfectly stiff, so as to insure facility in dishing them up. An oval ice block in the shape of a rather low basket or pedestal is best adapted for dishing up imitation asparagus; and to insure a safe maintenance of their position the best way is to dish them in exactly the same manner as natural asparagus.

From C. E. Francatelli The Royal Confectioner (London: 1891)

Asparagus mould

The pewter moulds are filled with the two different ices.

Garrett's Asparagus Ices

Asparagus shaped ices from Garret's Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery.

Historical Notes

Because these individual asparagus ices were so difficult to turn out, most mould manufacturers in the nineteenth century marketed large moulds to make whole bunches in one go. Miniature versions used for making attractive one-serving garnishing ices were also available.

A bundle of asparagus made with the three-part pewter mould on the left. Using a mould like this required far less skill than turning out the individual asparagus ices.


Mrs Marshall ice cream freezer

Agnes Marshall's patent ice cream freezer - click it to find out more about the history of ices

Mrs Marshall designed and marketed this remarkable ice cream freezer, which she claimed was capable of freezing a pint of ice cream mixture in five minutes. This is much faster than any modern electric ice cream machine designed for domestic use. Ivan has put Mrs Marshall's claims to the test and has found that she was telling the truth. With this remarkable machine , her customers and students were able to make some spectacular moulded ices and ice puddings like the Rosseline Bombe illustrated on the left. This is one of a number of elegant and delicious ice puddings she included in her second ice cream book, Fancy Ices. The cream bombe itself is flavoured with rosewater, maraschino and preserved cherries. The spun sugar sultan in which it is enveloped, is decorated with sliced cherries and chopped pistachios.
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