Nothing tastes better in the middle of summer than cool, sweet ice cream. And it’s so much better if that ice cream is home made! You can make your own ice cream or sorbet right in your campsite with very little time and effort. In fact, making ice cream is so easy, you might soon leave plain vanilla behind and launch into your own specialty flavors. Orange-chocolate-mocha, anyone?
To make ice cream, you can of course use a churn-style ice cream maker. Churns produce very creamy, luscious ice cream, but they take up a lot of space and can be time consuming to use. Alternately, you can make smaller batches with less investment cost by using the plastic-bag method, the coffee-can method, or the freezer method. These are easy ways to make ice cream in your campsite or RV.
Follow the plastic-bag method by gathering the following ingredients: 1 pint-sized Ziploc plastic bag; 1 gallon-sized Ziploc plastic bag; ice cubes; 6 tablespoons of rock salt; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1/2 cup milk or half & half; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Note that this will only make ice cream for one or two people. To make more, try doubling the recipe.
Take the 1-gallon bag and fill it about half full of ice, then add the rock salt. Seal this bag. Take the smaller bag and pour the milk, sugar, and vanilla into it. Seal this bag very carefully. Put the small bag inside the big bag and seal it. Shake the whole apparatus, bag and all, for about five minutes, or until you’ve created ice cream. Remove the small bag, wipe off the mouth, open it carefully, and enjoy.
The coffee-can method is very similar, but it uses a 1-pint coffee can nested inside a 3-pound coffee can. The larger can holds the ice and salt bath, while the inside can (sealed shut with duct tape) holds the milk, sugar, and vanilla. A benefit to the coffee-can method is that the shaking can be done by having the kids sit on the floor and roll it back and forth to one another.
Whichever method you use, you can adjust the recipe, making it richer by adding egg or using half and half, or adding bits of candy or chocolate. A couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup will give you chocolate ice cream, while a 1/4 cup of fruit makes a nice fruit blend. You can also make sorbet by using fruit juice instead of milk (skip the vanilla). This style of ice cream is best if eaten right away.
If you’re in an RV and have access to a freezer, you can make ice cream more simply. Prepare your custard mix (the milk, sugar, flavoring, and an egg if you like), then let it cool over an ice bath. Pour your custard mixture into a plastic or stainless steel bowl and put it in the freezer. After forty-five minutes, check the mixture. When the edges begin to freeze, pull it out and stir it vigorously with a whisk or spatula. Break up any frozen sections and beat it until it’s smooth. Return it to the freezer. Continue to check and stir up the mixture every thirty minutes. In 2-3 hours, it will be ready. The repeated stirring will result in smoother, creamier ice cream.