People Powered Ice Cream

ice creamMy friend Lori Waldbrook, who happens to be with Parks Ontario, takes her commitment to the outdoors seriously. So does her brother-in-law, Bob. An annual camping trip is part of their family tradition. “On one camping trip, Bob brought along a new, cool way to make ice cream,” explains Lori.  “It can be done in any campground, requires no electricity and uses simple ingredients easily brought from home. And the boys had so much fun.”

picnic table ice creamShe calls it camping ice cream but you can do this in your own backyard or better still, take it along on a trip this summer to one of the many parks and historic sites administered by Parks Canada or Ontario Parks.

Nothing says summer like ice cream and this is a great way to ensure your family is getting fresh, local ingredients and no additives in their favourite frozen treat.

There are two ways to make camping ice cream. There’s an easy way – just buy a Play & Freeze ice cream ball, available online from Amazon, L.L. Bean and from Bed, Bath & Beyond in Canada ($24.95-$32.95).

Or you can do it the serious camper way. For this, you require two containers; Bob, patently a committed coffee consumer, used 3lb and 1lb coffee cans.people powered ice cream

You simply fill the smaller can with the ice cream ingredients. Seal it tightly using duct tape to ensure it cannot come open no matter how rough things get. Place it inside the larger can, and fill that with ice and rock salt. It too, is sealed with duct tape.

Now comes the fun part. Either toss or roll the can (or the Play and Freeze) back and forth for 8 to 10 minutes. The full can is quite heavy so it’s a good workout and it helps to have a few extra people involved to share in the effort.

tossing the can ice cream

 Ice Cream Recipe:


1 pint of half and half (milk or unflavoured yogurt can be used instead)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/4 cup of pureed berries, peaches or your favourite fruit


Add all of the above ingredients to the 1 pound coffee can and mix well. Put the lid on the coffee can and completely enclose it with duct tape. Place the 1 pound coffee can inside of the 3 pound coffee can. Fill the larger can with crushed ice and rock salt and place the lid onto the 3 pound coffee can.  Duct tape that lid as well.

Be sure to check the ice cream after 8 minutes of play as it can really harden very quickly, and then you have to let it soften before it can be gobbled up. If the ice cream is not hard enough, re-seal and roll for longer.

Serves 4-6 people.