We like homemade ice cream as much as anyone, and we’ve owned our fair share of ice cream-making supplies: a really nice electric ice cream maker (which I sold after it fell into disuse for a few years when the kids were very young), a hand-cranked ice cream maker (fun but it took some effort and time, so I gave it to my friend for her country house), and then an electric one again (seldom used, sadly).
And then guess what I was asked to try out? Stonyfield teamed up with YayLabs! to send me a SoftShell Ice Cream Ball. It’s a soft-sided ball, like a playground ball. You put your ice cream ingredients in one end and in the other, ice and salt. You’re supposed to use rock salt, but I don’t have rock salt. I have kosher salt. That worked fine. I found that regular table salt worked fine, too.
You don’t need to get fancy with the ingredients. You can just add yogurt! Or yogurt and some sweetener. Or cream and a little sugar and maybe some vanilla flavoring. Or just fruit juice. You choose. Anyway, the first time we used it, I had on hand Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla Lowfat Yogurt. I normally only buy Stonyfield Whole Milk Plain, but I somehow had vanilla on hand. So we used that. I didn’t add anything to it, just put the yogurt in the ice cream side of the ball.
Then ice and kosher salt in the other side, made sure it was closed tightly (careful not to cross-thread it!), and we rolled it around.
Though it looks like a playground ball, you cannot drop, kick, or throw the ice cream ball, or the hard plastic inside will break. You do not want to break your ice cream ball. You want to sit on the ground and roll it around.
We made it into a game, the boys and I, and rolled to each other. After 10 minutes, per the instruction book, I scraped down the sides (not well enough, it turns out) and we rolled it for another 20 minutes. The yogurt wasn’t quite frozen but it was good enough for us! According to the instructions, higher fat products freeze more quickly, which is probably why the lowfat yogurt wasn’t quite frozen yet.
But it was good. The kids would have liked it a little sweeter, but they were OK with it as it was.
Then we brought it up to Maine when we went to visit dear friends in a cabin on a lake way up there. We bought cream in town and used some sugar. I used a pint of heavy cream and maybe 1/3 of a cup of sugar. We had no vanilla flavoring or maple syrup, so sweet cream ice cream it would be!
We rolled it around, first my friend and I and her toddler, then the boys and men joined us. Eight people, ages 2.5 to 43, rolling this ball in a great game and having fun.
I think that’s the best part of this ice cream ball — the time spent making a game of rolling it, laughing, passing to each other, taking turns, letting the littler kids get a chance. It’s community-building. I scraped the sides better this time, and when it was done, whoa. Beautifully frozen sweet cream ice cream.
It may not be our everyday way to make ice cream, nor the way to go if you want more than a pint (in Maine, we each got a few spoonfuls), but it’s fun, for sure, and we can take it camping with us! (Car camping, obviously, so we have a cooler for ice and yogurt or cream. I don’t backpack with that stuff.)
If you need a fun addition to your summer treat supplies or a brilliant hostess gift, try this ball. It’s fun. I just hope they come out with a full-silicon version we could use for dodgeball or kickball. Wouldn’t that be awesome — playing kickball and making ice cream at the same time?