It’s been downright oppressive some weeks here in the Berkshires this summer. And between trips to the pool and retreating to our air-conditioned bedrooms, we’re looking for any excuse to keep the cool – and entertained.
So naturally, my thoughts turned to ice cream. Not the boxed half-gallon or super premium kind that comes in a pint, but the “make-your- own” coffee can variety.
Here’s what you do. You’ll need fresh whole milk, organic whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Don’t skimp on the optional add-ins, including chopped nuts, crushed Heath bars or other candies, coconut, or chopped berries or fruits (peaches, strawberries or blue berries.)
You’ll also need two different sized coffee cans, one 12-16 oz and one 2-3 lbs. In this day and age of custom ground coffee they might be harder to find than when my Mom did this with me when I was a kid. You’ll also need rock salt, ice and duct tape.
Kick the can
The night before you plan to make your ice cream, put both coffee cans in the freezer. When you’re ready to start the next day, mix 1 cup of whole milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, ½ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract into the smaller coffee can. You add in your add-ins like candy bars or nuts now too; if using fruit you should add in later.
Put the lid on the coffee can and secure it with duct tape. Place the smaller, filled can in the center of the large one. Place crushed ice all around the small can. Once it’s close to full, sprinkle ¾ cup of rock salt (the same you’d use to melt ice on your walkway) on top of the salt. Cover the large can with its lid, wiping down the moisture with a cloth that is collecting on the outside of the can. Tape the lid with duct tape.
Now for the fun part. Most recipes mention rolling the can on the floor – but growing up, this was always an outdoor activity. Find a flat part of the lawn and have you little ones roll the can back and forth, effectively churning the contents and creating ice cream. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes.
Then, open the large can and remove the smaller one. Open the smaller one and scrape down the side of any ice cream that has begun to form on the sides of the can. If you’re doing a fruit-based version, now’s the time to add in the fruit.
Start the process again, taping up lid of the smaller can, and draining off excess water that’s collected inside the large can. Refill with more ice and rock salt. Secure the lid again, re-applying duct tape.
Roll on the lawn for a second time – again 15-20 minutes. Open the large can, and remove the smaller one, scraping down the sides again.
Now you have a choice! The ice cream can now be eaten on the spot – though it might be more akin to soft serve at this point. Or, if you prefer a more firm variety, place the small can in the freezer and wait a few hours. Voila, a cold treat and a fun activity – all “rolled” into one!