The Origins of Rum Raisin Ice Cream

An excellent dessert for hot summer days, Rum Raisin ice cream is one of the most popular flavours of ice cream around the world. First introduced to the U.S. market in the 1980’s by Häagen-Dazs®, sales of this flavour skyrocketed shortly thereafter.

The origins of Rum Raisin ice cream can be traced back to a popular ingredient in European dessert dishes, Málaga. Traditionally made using Málaga raisins, which come from sun drying the Muscat of the Alexandria grape. This grape is high in sugar and is believed to be one of the oldest genetically unmodified grape vines in existence. Originally the raisins were soaked in wine and added to various desserts and cakes.

The Sicilians were the first to create Málaga gelato using the traditionally made Málaga and Marsala wine, but times change.The late 17th century saw a massive increase in sugar and Rum production in the Caribbean. As these products began filtering into the European market, many traditional recipes altered to incorporate them. It turned out that Rum was an excellent substitute for wine in the making of Málaga, thanks to its sweet yet light flavour.

As a result the Sicilians began using Rum in their Málaga gelato and the trend spread to America during the late 19th Century at which time many Italians emigrated to the United States. 

For an easy Rum Raisin ice cream, soak some sweet raisins in a good craft rum for a week and add them as needed to a bowl of cold vanilla ice cream. For a little extra fun add a splash of Rum over the top.

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