Shavuot is coming up, so who wants to make some messy, homemade ice cream? I do. It’s the one time a year my family makes ice cream, so right there it’s a highlight of the Jewish calendar. “The Giving of the Torah,”of course, is at the core of Shavuot, but “The Making of the Ice Cream” is a bit more memorable if you are 5.
Don’t have a proper ice cream maker? The kids can make it with Ziploc bags. Even if you do have a machine, the low-tech baggie way is a good, gloppy group activity.
HOW: The easiest Ice Cream in a Bag recipe seems to be the one at FamilyFun.com, at this link with a short video. Basically, you mix sugar, half-and-half, and vanilla in a pint Ziploc bag and seal it. Plop that into a gallon Ziploc of ice cubes and Kosher salt. Massage for five minutes. Glidah! (Hebrew for ice cream.)
Their advice is to give each person a bag to shake, and then to eat straight out of the bag. Because the portion sizes are small (or “sensible”), I agree each kid should get a personal set of bags (outer and inner). To eat ice cream out of a baggie saves clean-up and might be fun for kids, but it grosses me out just a wee bit. It pushes some sort of sensory defensiveness button, I guess. I prefer to snip a bottom corner of the inner bag and squeeze the ice cream into a proper dish. We’ve all improvised a pastry bag this way, right? But whether in a bag or in a bowl, work fast: this stuff melts as soon as it makes.
Notes: Get the toppings ready first. Use tape to seal both ziplocs if you are working with energetic children or klutzy PhDs (forgive the redundancies). Burp the air out of the bags before sealing. It can take five to 15 minutes of earnest smooshing, massaging, and constant hands-on contact to transform liquid into semi-solid, so provide oven mitts or a kitchen towel or winter gloves to keep hands from going numb. Wipe the bag before you open it, or you’ll get salt-flavored ice cream.
Group/Party/Class Notes: Doing this with a bunch of kids? Decide whether to mix ingredients in a big container and then dole portions to individual bags, or to let each kid measure his/her own ingredients.
Shavuot is dairy-centric, but what about the vegans or lactose-intolerant among us? I found recipes that substitute almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and rice milk before I stopped looking. A zillion hits will pop up if you search with terms like make ice cream without machine vegan.
If you have a favorite non-machine ice cream recipe, technique, tip, or gripe, holler.