Snow Ice Cream, Northern Canada Style

Winter seemed to hold its breath… until the new year.  Then it let loose with a great sigh and unburdened itself onto our high plateau world.  For the last several weeks we have seen much less of the sun and a lot more of low-slung gray clouds scuttling in to deposit their wares.  The six to ten inches of snow that had held steady for the first months of winter have suddenly blossomed into three feet of deep, powdery, fluff.

When the winds calm and the clouds pause their travels, the forays begin.  We are off to replenish the household  wood supply, dig out the trail to the outhouse, shake the snow off our greenhouse/shop/barn, clear the driveway, get the mail, or simply go out to be out of our small cabin.

Last night we took a late evening stroll and ended up going all the way down the road, about a mile each way.  It was a darkish night with no moonlight but still quite possible to walk without artificial lights.  (Snow is lovely that way.)

Even though our two neighbors are some distance from us, now that they’ve gone for the winter, walking the whole distance without seeing any signs of active human habitation gave us an even greater sense of space.  If we could erase the city glow in the southeast and the distant rumble of traffic from the rural artery to the south, we could truly feel like we were “away”.  We are working on it, but somehow, we have yet to convince ourselves that the sound of traffic, though distant, is as lovely as the sound of the sea.

While ambling down the road, discussing these topics and kicking through the snow, the topic of snow “ice cream” came up.  We haven’t made it in quite a while and truly the snow was ideal – light, powdery, and fairly newly fallen.  We made plans….and chose a flavor…  Before going to bed we put a cup of cashews in a jar, covered them with water, and left them to soak…

Today after our noon repast, the fun began.  We sent a runner out to fill the big mixing bowlwith freshly-fallen  clean snow.  In the mean time, the rest of us came up with our cup of sweetened liquid for truly that is all else one needs to make snow ice cream.

Since we were doing this as a family and we needed to be sensitive to lactose intolerance we chose a family-friendly, non-dairy version for our snow ice cream.  We started with the soaked cashews (any nut or seed will do). We drained the cashews and dumped them into the blender along with the following:

  • 1 c. thick coconut milk (“cream”)
  • 1 c unsweetened, organic peanut butter
  • 1 c. unbleached sugar  (maple syrup is good too!)
  • 1/4 c carob powder

These we blended for 3 minutes until the mixture was very creamy (important step).  Next we poured the mixture into a large bowl and began stirring in snow.  At first it doesn’t seem to do much, but as you stir and add snow it gets thicker and thicker until it ends up like soft ice cream.  (The texture varies according to the snow texture.)  Depending on  how thick your “liquid” is and how powdery your snow is, 1 cup of liquid will mix with about 1 gallon of snow and result in about 1/2 gallon of ice cream.

The whole process took us about 15 minutes and then, there we were, the six of us, lounging around the wood stove, slurping down our “nut delight” flavored “ice cream”.  Mmmm….   Nut Delight or a bunch of nuts eating snow?  Who knows?  Anyway, it was fun and it tasted wonderful.  The neat thing is that you can eat bowls of it and not go away with the sicky-sweet feeling that you can sometimes get from the commercial ice creams, with all their fillers and artificial flavors.

Snow cream, snow nut-cream, snow icy-fruit, snow…..   All it takes is a blender, something sweet, a bit of imagination, and a good arm for stirring it all together.

You’d like to give it a try?  Here a few handy hints.

  • Experiment with what you have.  There is no exact recipe and no “wrong” way to do it so have fun!  Make it as sweet or as tart, as rich or light, as as you like.
  • Use very fresh snow. The fluffier your snow, the creamier your ice-cream.  Collect it and leave it outside or pop it into the freezer until you are ready.  (Only “crunchy snow” available?  Make snow cones.)
  • For the liquid, consider using sweetened condensed milk, another dairy milk, nut milk, soy milk, coconut milk (or coconut cream; our favorite), cooled pudding or custard sauce, maple syrup, or even pureed fruit or fruit juice concentrate.
  • Sweeten to taste using a sweetener that your family enjoys in a quantity that they enjoy.  When making your 1 cup liquid, think “milkshake” sweet.  Remember that once you mix the snow in, it will taste less sweet.
  • For a richer taste include something with fat in it: dairy cream, coconut butter, peanut butter…
  • A blender is not necessary but it makes the job easier.
  • Stir your snow in quickly.  Without “anti-freeze” and thickeners, snow melts quickly.  You want to enjoy your treat at its peak.
  • Top with anything that sounds good.
  • Enjoy with family and friends.

To snow!  Glorious, breath-taking snow!

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