Ice Cream in a Bag!

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: Any, though the very young will get tired of shaking long before the ice cream is ready.

My kids never took to Sesame Street, or Mickey Mouse, or the Disney Channel; they didn’t care for children’s movies, either. For the most part, I appreciated that, and enjoyed my Dora-free existence. It did become an issue, however, when I desperately needed to make a phone call, or do my homework, or even just have five minutes of unchaperoned time in the bathroom.

As the girls got older, they got better at amusing themselves from time to time, but sick days remained problematic. I would eventually run out of patience with Barbies (for the moderately ill) and with ladling tea and stroking hair (for the flu victims). Unfortunately, my youngest was frequently fighting some bug or another. I heard myself asking: please, please, wouldn’t you like to watch twenty minutes of television? Sadly, no.

But one day last January, my seven-year-old got a glimpse of the Food Network. Now I have that “be careful what you wish for,” kind of feeling. “That’s not how you do a chiffonade,” Josie told me later, as I chopped mint for the top of a fruit salad. “I think there has been a misunderstanding,” she said another time, catching me frosting her fancy ganache-filled mocha birthday cupcakes with a tub of Betty Crocker vanilla.

What can I possibly make for dinner now, when both girls are glued to Iron Chef Morimoto‘s every move?   

But at least I have decent dessert plans. I recently learned how to make delicious homemade ice cream in fifteen minutes or less. Even better, my kids can make it, and the results live up to their sky-rocketing culinary standards.

Here’s what you need, per person:

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

*4 cups of ice

*1/4 cup of rock salt

*two Ziploc bags: one gallon-sized, one quart-sized

*1 tablespoon of sugar

*1/2 cup of half and half

*1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

*optional: if you are interested in the science of ice cream, a thermometer for measuring the temperature of the ice, cream mixture, and brine solution. See science notes at the end of the post.


ice and salt

1. Put the ice and salt into the large ziploc bag and set aside for a minute.

The key to minimal clean up is to have one person hold the bags open while the other pours.

2. Put the sugar, half and half, and vanilla into the small bag. If the kids are doing this, they need to help hold each other’s little bag open, so the half and half does not spill all over tarnation.

This method is for adults only. Kids need someone else to hold the bag!
This method is for adults only. Kids need someone else to hold the bag.

3. Push out the extra air–preferably without spilling–and seal tightly.

4. Nestle the small bag into the bag of ice and seal the larger bag tightly as well.


5. Shake and massage that bag like crazy for about 5 minutes.

This part is very cold and very wet. If possible, go outside! Even if you use an extra bag, there is a lot of condensation that splashes everywhere.
If possible, go outside. Even if you use an extra bag, there is a lot of condensation that splashes everywhere. As for the gloves, get some. Ice is very, very cold.

6. After a while, you will notice that the half and half thickens and has a solid, peanut butter-like consistency. Time to eat!

7. Without opening the small bag, snip a corner and squeeze the ice cream into a dish or cone. Note: you may want to quickly rinse or dry the inner bag before squeezing, so the salty water does not drip into your ice cream.

A chocolate variation. See below.
A chocolate variation. See below.

8. Enjoy.

Still working on presentation, but this stuff tastes amazing.
Still working on presentation, but this stuff tastes amazing.

Variations: we tried adding a teaspoon of instant coffee, which I highly recommend.

We also tried cocoa powder. I definitely advise using unsweetened cocoa. The sweetened cocoa made the ice cream unbearably sweet, in our opinion.

We haven’t yet tried fruit, but I think it would work if you mashed it and strained out some of the juice before adding to the bag. Let me know if you try it before I have a chance to do so.

Wait, wait! There is a little science going on here, not all of which I can explain in great detail. Ice alone will not work well for this project. Ice is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and though it could eventually cool the cream mixture to 32, the freezing temperature of the mixture is actually lower than that of water. Consequently, we need to get the mixture colder than 32 degrees in order to freeze! The rock salt melts the ice, and this process lowers the temperature of the resulting brine solution. The heat is then absorbed from the ice cream mixture, bringing the mixture down to about 27 or 28 degrees, where it can freeze. You can read more about it on ehow.

Science connections: states of matter, temperature, mixtures and solutions

Author: Beret Olsen

Beret Olsen is a writer, teacher, and photo editor for 100 Word Story. She loves toast, the Oxford comma, and all your comments and questions.

2 thoughts on “Ice Cream in a Bag!”

  1. I’m so glad that they made it to you and that you like them! I hope everyone is finleeg better over your way, and I’m glad I could provide a small bit of cheer for you. I heard a rumour that spring may be heading to Britain (a foreign notion around these parts we hear that the snow may be with us until sometime well into April, at least!), so perhaps you won’t need them much anymore ..but I hope you enjoy them whenever the weather permits.*Hugs*


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