The Magic of Snow A beautiful white blanket of snow covered much of Tennessee over the past two weeks. For some it was a nuisance, as it covered roads making travel treacherous. Others celebrated by swooshing down a hill on a make-shift sled. School age kids enjoyed a day off school, a day to sleep late, and build a snowman.
Snow days conjure up mixed emotions for me. I think snow is magical, it makes everything beautiful. The frozen snow-covered branches and the snow resting lightly on the branches of the evergreen trees creates a picture-perfect winter wonderland. But when I recall those cold morning tromping through the snow to the barn to break the ice in the watering trough for the animals, it does not seem magical. The farm chores were multiplied when things were covered with a blanket of this magic. Then, I recall snow days with my own children. A fire in the fireplace and a blanket on the floor for a picnic lunch in front of the fire. The boys bundling up and sliding on the frozen creek, coming in and out with wet clothes and snow-covered boots, building snow forts and making multiple snowmen filled those magical days. I recall from my childhood, my children’s and grandchildren’s younger years; the adventures of eating that delicious seasonal specialty, snow cream.
Is it a Southern thing? Ice cream made with snow is a beloved Southern tradition. Maybe people in other parts of the world eat snow cream, but rest assured, that does not negate the previous statement.
Snow Cream in 500BC? I have no idea where or when people started dabbling with snow to make the beloved snow cream. But I was sure that it was invented by a grandmother who lived South of the Mason Dixon Line. Imagine my surprise when my Google search provided a different story! It appears that as early as 500 BC, there is evidence that the Persian culture was making snow-based desserts. Another source stated that Roman emperors sent slaves to mountain tops to bring back snow which was flavored and served as an early form of ice cream.
My Snow Cream Story I am going to pretend that I did not read this, I prefer to share my Southern story of snow cream. As soon as people started talking about snow, I took a clean dish pan and placed it on top of the cover to the cellar which was flat and high enough that animals would not walk in it. You see, if the snow fell in the dishpan, it alleviated the need to skim newly fallen snow from the ground. I could never wait to get enough in the pan and ended up scooping a top layer from any clean surface I could reach.
Many rules applied to obtaining snow for snow cream. It needed to be a light fluffy snow. If it were a heavy wet snow, it took a lot more snow and it would produce a soupy snow cream due to the amount of water in the snow. The snow needed to be clean and fresh before anyone or an animal had stepped on it. You never ever collected yellow snow; I think you know why! On a windy day, you could not get snow from anyplace near the barnyard. You non-farmers may need an explanation. The snow comes out of a cloud and when it gets within a few feet of the ground, it can get mixed with soil or something worse that’s blowing around. Never get snow that has been shoveled or pushed around with the tractor (plowed), it’s likely to contain particles of soil. Of course, we were always told to never make snow cream from the first snow of the year.
Is it Safe to eat Snow Cream? There’s a lot said about the safety of eating snow cream. I’m not sure I would recommend scooping up snow in a busy city where the fallen snow can soak up chemicals from gasoline exhaust in the air. Pollutants may appear in low levels in any snow. If you live in the country away from busy streets and use precaution in collecting the snow, make the snow cream.
“Most researchers are less concerned about what’s in the snow than the fact that climate change may be causing it to rapidly disappear.....Enjoy it now, because there’s a whole lot less of it”. Eat Feed Podcast by Anne Bramley.
Snow Cream with or without Eggs? When I was a child, we used eggs, raw eggs, in our snow cream. I don’t think anyone in Granville knew about the danger of salmonella in uncooked eggs. We used fresh eggs from the henhouse and unpasteurized milk from the cows. I’m not recommended that you do that today. As I recall the snow cream from those days was much more delicious than any, I’ve had lately. (That’s what memories can do for you!)
It requires planning ahead to use eggs, make a custard and cool thoroughly before adding to the snow cream. The custard surely does make a rich smooth ice cream. Make a custard by using one quart of milk, 2 eggs, beaten, ¾ cups sugar. Heat slowly on stove, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps. A whisk works well. Take off heat when it begins to thicken (about the consistency of sweetened condensed milk), add 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla. Cool thoroughly. You will need about one gallon of fresh clean snow. Alternate adding cooled custard and snow. I know this sounds like a lot of trouble.
Snow Cream Recipe
Let me give you an easier more modern-day recipe:
Snow Cream Recipe About 8 cups fresh clean snow 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
After playing in the snow, making a snowman and sledding downhill, you’d come inside to that warm delicious homemade hot coca.
Homemade Hot Coca recipe ¼ cup coca ½ cup sugar 1/3 cup hot water pinch of salt 4 cups milk 1 T vanilla Mix cocoa, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan. Place on stove to simmer, stir constantly, reduce heat Add milk, heat Do NOT boil
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