First, the fresh fruit must be zested, sliced, and juiced by hand. Then they add real cane sugar and churn the mixture to a consistency "like mashed potatoes" before pouring it into a stainless steel sleeve nestled inside a wooden barrel full of ice and rock salt. This "salt brining" lowers the freezing point of the ice, so the finished product maintains an ideal temperature throughout the day."We make our ices without any refrigeration, stabilizers—even natural ones—or sticky gums," Nancy said, "So that brining system keeps it at a temperature cold enough to prevent melting, but not so cold that it hardens up."
Sicily's readily available supply of snow led to a series of frozen dessert innovations long before the advent of mechanical refrigeration.
By the late 1600s, this salt-and-ice technique "passed from the laboratory to the kitchen," paving the way for the invention of granitas, sorbetti (ices churned smooth like Di Cosmo's Italian Ice), and sorbetti con crema (ices with dairy added, a gelato precursor). In those days, only the richest among the aristocracy could afford such luxuries, but the Italian-American take on ices has always been priced low enough to bring in laborers like my grandfather, who lived most of his life in Peterstown, and counted among Di Cosmo's earliest and longest-running customers.
'When my wife and I first started dating, I said to her, You've got to come with me to Elizabeth and try this lemon ice,' said Tom Colicchio.