Few people remember how to make snow cream today because everyone has ice cream in the freezer. But better than ice cream is an old-fashioned, homemade creation of freshly fallen snow flavored with a little dairy, vanilla, and sugar. In the South, snow cream is treasured because snowstorms are infrequent and often breathtaking.
The directions are simple. In a large bowl, combine evaporated milk, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Then slowly stir in snow and keep adding snow until the mixture is thick — you want it thick. The result is thinner than ice cream but very tasty. Don’t save; don’t freeze (although you can). Eat at once.
What are the secrets? Use evaporated milk because it gives a creamier texture than milk. (Because the snow waters down the taste, the richer you make this mixture, the better.) Some folks also chill all ingredients (and the mixing bowl) first; this keeps the snow from liquefying rapidly and watering down the flavor. In fact, if you can, stir the snow into the mixture outside where the chilly temperature should keep the snow almost intact.
The most important step is to collect only clean snow. If young kids help you with this project, stress the importance of making sure that the snow is clean and using only clean snow. My family always insists that we can’t use the first flakes of a snowfall. We make sure that the snow is clean by waiting until it has snowed at least two hours and more is on the way. (The last snowfall more than passed the clean-snow test.)
Another idea fairly obvious: Collect the snow where birds and other animals have not visited. Take only the freshest snow – collect it from the top of the snow that has fallen and while it is still coming down.
Other options: Some folks like to add one or two beaten eggs to the mixture before the snow is stirred in. If you can’t eat raw eggs, skip that option (or use an egg substitute).
The rewards are immediate. Gather the young and young-at-heart, enjoy a homemade creation that connects many generations, and tell a few stories about the old days. Then watch the forecast for another snowfall so that you can repeat this experience.
1 can evaporated milk (12 fluid ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1 gallon snow