How to make ice cream in your RV

As I work my transition to full-time RVing, I’m learning to scale back on practically everything I do and own. This is to prepare for living in a small space and making due with fewer items. That’s especially true when it comes to the kitchen. My future RV kitchen will have much less counter-top space for appliances and cooking. I guess now is not a good time to buy that fancy ice cream maker I saw at Williams Sonoma.

But I don’t need a huge kitchen or fancy gadgets to continue cooking and eating well in my RV. Taking baby steps is the best way I can prepare for an RV life. One of those baby steps is learning to make ice cream at home–without an ice cream maker. I got the idea from Nikki Cleveland. Here’s what happened when I tried it . . .

1. Gather the ingredients.

  • ½ cup whole milk (or almond milk)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice cream mix-ins (optional, like caramel or candies)
  • Ice cubes
  • ½ cup ice cream rock salt
  • Ziploc bags (one pint-size, one gallon-size)

One time I ran out of vanilla extract so I tried almond extract, but it was too sweet for me. For mix-ins, I think smaller is better, like sprinkles instead of chunky chocolate chips. But I don’t bother with mix-ins because this ice cream tastes really good by itself.

2. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and any mix-ins.

Stir ingredients until they’re mixed well. I use a cereal bowl for mixing.

3. Put together the ice bag.

Fill the gallon-size bag about half-way with ice–two ice trays should do it. Sprinkle salt over the ice. I couldn’t find ice cream rock salt in the grocery store, so I took a chance on course kosher salt; it works well enough. I didn’t have any pint-size bags, so I just used a sandwich bag for the ice cream mix.

4. Add mixed ingredients to the ice bag.

If you’re worried about the ice cream leaking, you can double-bag the mix before you put it in with the ice. I think this is a good idea because salty ice cream tastes nasty.

5. Shake for 5-10 minutes.

I take the full ten. But shake as much as you want until the ice cream hardens. Cleveland suggests wrapping the bag in a small kitchen towel if your hands get too cold, which I fully endorse.

6 Serve and enjoy.

Have a bowl in the freezer ready for your ice cream so it doesn’t melt so quickly when you serve it. It can be a little messy scraping out the ice cream, so you can eat it right out of the bag.

I’ve tried this recipe a half-dozen times, and I recommend it. The result is delicious! I’m realizing that cooking in an RV kitchen, or trying to live in any small space, can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. The best way to prepare for the “smallness” of RV life is to start living it now. And homemade RV ice cream is a good place to start.

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