Plastic Baggie Ice Cream

During the summer months, or more honestly half of spring and fall, the girls and I join my mom for Sunday night ice cream at our local ice cream shop. When my parents first moved to the town we live in now, I heard about this ice cream shop quite often from my mom. Now that we live here as well, I know why she spoke of it in such high regard. It is rich and creamy with several yummy flavors to choose from. Not to mention the building has old-time ice cream shop appeal. You’d think that this heavenly Sunday tradition would fill my and the girls’ taste for ice cream each week.

That would be a silly thought. It is summer after all. Is ice cream once a week really enough? No! On the other hand, is getting the kids clean enough to go into public and messing with car seats worth satisfying the craving? That’s a harder question. Luckily it isn’t one that you have to answer! As long as you keep a couple of simple ingredients in stock at home, ice cream can always be only ten minutes away.

Ten minutes away it was for us this weekend. In desperate need of ice cream, the girls and I gathered up the ingredients and started shaking. All right, that’s a touch dramatic. We gathered ingredients rather slowly and after one or two shakes, I was handed both bags to complete the task. The end product though was actually really great ice cream. Made even sweeter by the sense of accomplishment for having made it ourselves.

Plastic Baggie Ice Cream

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Plastic Baggie Ice Cream



  1. Combine half and half, vanilla, and sugar in sandwich bag and seal it tightly.
  2. Place bag with half and half mixture in a second sandwich bag and seal tightly. This will prevent any leaks and keep the salt from getting in your ice cream bag.
  3. Fill a quart-size bag halfway with ice and add salt.
  4. Place sandwich bags in the quart-size bag. Seal tightly.
  5. Shake for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add toppings!
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Nurture the Experience

Why is salt added to ice to make ice cream? When I was little, my parents had a hand-cranked ice cream maker that also called for salt in the ice. I never understood it, and if I asked, I certainly didn’t retain the answer. So, when the girls asked the same question, I had no great answer. Like any good scientist, we had to do a little bit of research! It was pretty easy to find the answer on Google. It turns out that the freezing temperature of the ice cream mixture requires a lower temperature to freeze than water. The ice itself will not get the job done because it simply is not cold enough. Salt actually lowers the freezing temperature of water and allows the solution to get colder. The colder temperature allows ice crystals to form in the ice cream mixture (as well as the shaking motion). Voila! Ice cream. It’s an amazing miracle of science.


The Kitchn
General Chemistry Online
Physics Central

Recommended Reading
We only took a small look at the scientific process to making ice cream. Not surprisingly, there are many, many more steps to take milk to ice cream. This book details each step in the process with vivid pictures that kids will love. If you are looking for an informational book on a topic they already love, this is a great choice.


This is a truly adorable book about two dogs on a best friend adventure. Interestingly, these pups are based on the actual dogs of the writer and illustrator. It’s a fantastic read full of imagination and fun. Of course, any book with an ice cream island is a keeper!