Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts

We Tried Snow Ice Cream & Here's the Verdict

Will you scoop up this sweet winter dessert trend before it melts away?

February 17, 2021
Photo by Bobbi Lin

There have been unprecedented levels of snow across the United States this week. You don’t need me to tell you that. Just yesterday, my family sent me snapshots of our backyard in Houston completely dusted with snow, which is really not normal! You also don’t need me to tell you that. And while many find themselves bravely facing down with the unfortunate and unexpected weather just outside their doors, others it seems, are making snow ice cream.

Yes, all this new snow has incited a sudden interest in a novel frozen dessert. As I mentioned, I’m from Texas, and ice cream is something we buy in shopping malls, or strip malls, or movie theaters inside shopping malls and strip malls. What ice cream is not, is something we make from the contents of our backyards.

Apparently, people in other parts of the country have been making sweets from snow for a while now. Writer and author Anne Bramley in a 2016 article for NPR had this to say: “Growing up in Missouri, I consumed as much snow ice cream as possible from November to March. Each time the winter sky let loose, I caught a bowl of fresh flakes. My grandmother mixed raw eggs, cream, and sugar and poured it over top.” Hmmmm.

Earlier this month, Jenna Bush Hager appeared on Today with Hoda & Jenna saying that she’s been making snow ice cream with her kids. According to the recipe Bush Hager remembers from her childhood in Midland, Texas, you scoop up fresh snow and add almond milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. She also recommends adding condensed milk for sweet creaminess.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I think creating your own shaved ice doesn't get snow-like texture that's needed. Mom's recipe: Beat 1 egg, 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 tsp lemon juice for 5 minutes with a mixer, until everything is pale and ribbony. Stir (or beat in at low speed) maybe 1/2 c of your choice of dairy. Whipping cream will make a richer product than half and half or milk, but use what you have. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (1/2 tsp of each, maybe). Fold in snow until the mixture is thickened. This won't be firm like ice cream. If you put it in the freezer, it will get really icy. It's worth the danger.”
— hildey328
Comment

I’d heard of maple syrup taffy (pouring fresh maple syrup onto fresh snow) from friends in Vermont, but this whole snow ice cream business was new. A quick Google search revealed a wide variety of options like this Real Simple article telling me that snow ice cream was the treat I needed today. Well, I didn’t know it was the treat I needed today, but maybe now it is? All you need is milk, sugar, vanilla and, of course, snow. You stir all these ingredients together and voilà! Is it ice cream? Is it snow with toppings? Who knows, but hurry up and eat it before it melts.

This blogger combines fresh snow with a can of condensed milk and vanilla, and stirs it all together. A search on Instagram shows people all across the country running out to their snow strewn yards and mixing snow into ice cream.

Is snow, uh...safe to eat? Because by the looks of some snow, it most definitely is not. Real Simple recommends leaving a plastic container out in the snow to collect fresh flakes. Jenna Hager Bush says she scooped fresh snow off the top of a mound on her roof. Martha Stewart suggests pulsing ice in a food processor to make pseudo-snow indoors. And the NPR article advises waiting for an hour or two after an initial snowfall to start collecting. Fact: Snowflakes clean the air as they fall downwards, so “the longer the snow falls, the lower the pollution levels in the air, and thus in the snow.”

Compelled by… journalism, I decided to make some snow ice cream myself. Bereft of any fresh snow, I tossed some ice cubes in a Vitamix and made a nice bowl of freshly shaved ice. Into that bowl I drizzled some oat milk, vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of sugar, and gave it all a nice toss until combined. Well, it kind of worked. To say it tasted bad would be an overstatement, but to say it tasted like regular ice cream would also be an overstatement. It tasted more like an extremely cold (icy!) bowl of vaguely flavored and sweetened ice. Which…it was! I’m sure the excitement is a bit more tangible when the snow is freshly fallen, so I'll be sure to leave a container outside.

Would you try snow ice cream? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.

9 Comments

Jacqui H. March 1, 2021
In Vermont we call it Sugar on Snow and it is freshly made maple syrup drizzled over snow. It is awesome!!
 
Cindy517 February 20, 2021
I am 63 yrs old and was raised in NC and can remember my mother making snow cream when I was a child. As an adult, I have also made it for my son.
 
Maria K. February 19, 2021
If you want anything close to ice cream, you will need something richer than oat milk.
 
lilroseglow February 19, 2021
As a kid growing up in the mountains of NC, "snow cream", as we called it, was a standard wintertime treat. Now I live in the Detroit area where I raised my kids. I never served them snow cream although there were plenty of opportunities - just way too much pollution in the air.
 
Gayle L. February 18, 2021
A dry powdery snow works best. A wet heavy snow not so much...
 
Smaug February 17, 2021
When we lived in Truckee in the early 50's it was a regular thing- just (fresh) snow with vanilla and sugar- we loved it, but of course we were just dumb kids. Pollution wasn't a problem in that time and place.
 
hildey328 February 17, 2021
I've had snow cream twice so far. It's delicious. I think creating your own shaved ice doesn't get snow-like texture that's needed.
Mom's recipe: Beat 1 egg, 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 tsp lemon juice for 5 minutes with a mixer, until everything is pale and ribbony. Stir (or beat in at low speed) maybe 1/2 c of your choice of dairy. Whipping cream will make a richer product than half and half or milk, but use what you have. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (1/2 tsp of each, maybe). Fold in snow until the mixture is thickened.
This won't be firm like ice cream. If you put it in the freezer, it will get really icy. It's worth the danger.
 
hildey328 February 17, 2021
I've had it twice so far during this snow....I live in Arkansas, so I don't get to have it often. I've had it twice this week.
 
Jess K. February 18, 2021
I just went up to my building's roof to scoop up some fresh snow so I can try this method!