Recipe for Snow Ice Cream From the Blizzard of 1978

Updated on February 1, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty collects various recipes from past generations and is interested in early American History, the Civil War, and the 19th century.

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A Famous Blizzard Yields a Recipe

One April evening in 1985, Central Ohio was hit with an unexpected one-day blizzard. We had several inches of clean, white snow after a previous day of mild spring temperatures.

With school and workplaces closed, many of us looked back to a long blizzard in 1978 and remembered a recipe for snow ice cream. We made the dessert quickly, because by noon the next day in April, all the snow was melted.

Photo in nature of a tree like a dish of ice cream.
Photo in nature of a tree like a dish of ice cream. | Source

Vanilla and Peach Flavors for Snow Ice Cream

A traditional Southern and Midwestern recipe used in the 1970s calls for only three ingredients of snow, vanilla, and condensed milk, but results in an overly icy, fast melting, and weak concoction.

A little experimentation resulted in the following recipe, which is richer overall, and more solid. The original dessert was made on my grandfather's farm beginning in 1870.

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: Several servings

Ingredients

  • A large metal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon
  • 2 Whole large eggs
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 Cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons pure vanilla
  • Clean fresh snow

I like to chill the metal bowl first in the freezer and then make the ice cream outside to keep the bowl cold and the snow from melting. In fact, it's great to put the bowl down into a mound of snow to hold it still. COLD!

Instructions

  1. Break and beat the eggs briskly in the bowl.
  2. Pour in the cream, sugar and vanilla all at once.
  3. Stir together and begin adding the cleanest white snow until the ice cream is thick enough for you.
  4. Serve and place the rest in the freezer immediately, because of the raw eggs.
  5. Use up the ice cream within 24 hours to prevent egg spoilage. It should be all right in the freezer, unless you take it out and let it sit at room temperature. If that happens, throw it out. Heavy cream can be expensive, so take care of the finished product.

Even in summertime, you can have this dessert by using shaved ice instead of snow to make a refreshing and whimsical dish.

Individualize your Frozen Dessert

  • Add Peaches

Before making the ice cream, remove a cup of frozen peach slices from a bag of frozen peaches you have purchased at the supermarket. Set them on the kitchen counter to thaw and as they begin to soften, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Canned peaches are often soft and do not work as well.

Prepare the vanilla ice cream recipe as given above and add the chopped peaches at the last minutes. It is fine if they are still partially frozen. Mix gently and serve the ice cream.

  • Add Some Coconut

Peaches and coconut are good together in this recipe. Use about half a cup of shredded coconut or a little more, if you like. Mix it into the ice cream when you add the chopped, partially frozen peaches.

  • Add Some Chocolate

While I've had no luck with chocolate syrup, which seems to disintegrate the snow ice cream, breaking up fudge brownies and adding them to the vanilla recipe at the end seems to work fine. A squeeze bottle of chocolate shell that hardens on contact also works well.

What Happened During the Big Blizzard as We Ate Snow?

The Big Snow

The Great Blizzard of 1978 snowed us into our homes for a month, dumping feet of snow on much of Ohio beginning one night after a warm rainy evening. Snow blocked my front door to a height of five feet and I dug out with a broom through a narrow opening I could manage.

January 25, 26, and 27 were the worst days, especially around Columbus and the Great Lakes Area to the north. Ohio AAA stopped taking calls for cars that would not start, beginning on January 25. The auto club trucks were fitted with snow plows and helped free stranded people from their homes.

The US National Guard stated that the storm was nearly equivalent to a nuclear attack in its impact upon the state.

This is about how I looked during The Great Blizzard, after snow plows had done their best.
This is about how I looked during The Great Blizzard, after snow plows had done their best. | Source

Buried Alive in the City

After the first few days of the natural disaster in 1978, we could no longer eat the snow, because it quickly became dirty from removal efforts.

When we could get outside, we walked down the center of the streets, compacted snow and ice being four to five feet high on the sidewalks.

Heavy accumulating snow remained with us in Central Ohio for two months and the majority of residents missed a week or more of work or school. City bus service was free during the worst days and the few restaurants and cafes that could open for business served free coffee to all snow plow operators, tow truck drivers, and protective services personnel.

My Ponderosa Steak House had no heat, but cooking equipment helped somewhat and we worked in coasts, trying to have some fun with the situation..

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is how we felt in 1978! We still tried to enjoy ourselves.Central Ohio, January 1978. This parked vehicle was covered by large snow plows wor5king the street.
This is how we felt in 1978! We still tried to enjoy ourselves.
This is how we felt in 1978! We still tried to enjoy ourselves. | Source
Central Ohio, January 1978. This parked vehicle was covered by large snow plows wor5king the street.
Central Ohio, January 1978. This parked vehicle was covered by large snow plows wor5king the street. | Source

In Cleveland during the 1978 disaster, barometric pressure reduced to 28.28, the record non-tropical low for America until October of 2010. Friends in that city made it a point to enjoy snow ice cream for several days.

Hard-Hit Ohio Cities

show route and directions
A markerCleveland OH -
Cleveland, OH, USA
get directions

B markerColumbus OH -
Columbus, OH, USA
get directions

C markerSpringfield OH -
Springfield, OH, USA
get directions

The Amish just west of Columbus used horses during the 1978 snows. In the city, cars were frozen, many of them buried to the top of the windows.
The Amish just west of Columbus used horses during the 1978 snows. In the city, cars were frozen, many of them buried to the top of the windows. | Source

Sources

  • 1978 Ohio Statewide Blizzard - Ohio History Central. www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/1978_Ohio_Statewide_Blizzard Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  • Adjutant General of Ohio and Ohio National Guard. Blizzard '78 After Action Report; pp 1 - 42. 1978
  • Dean, L. The long, hungry winter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Star Tribune; February 10, 2014.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Patty Inglish

    Comments and Snow Ice Cream Ideas

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      • daviddwarren22 profile image

        daviddwarren22 6 years ago

        Thanks for the information.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

        Wow, you are great making fun out this awfyl situation. It sounds great.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
        Author

        Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Pamela99 - Cleveland certainly has its share of snow! friends from there wonder why Columbus schools even have snow days. Thanks for posting.

        Chuck - You brought my 1st grade class back to mind, because our teacher also told us about snow and maple syrup. We went to a farm that had maples and produced candy and pancake syrup every year. It was different. Many of the kids had never had maple candy before. Imagine candy from a tree! We had a good time.

      • Chuck profile image

        Chuck Nugent 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

        I never heard of snow ice cream but I vaguely remember one of my teachers in grade school talking about pouring maple syrup over fresh snow which caused the maple syrup to harden at which point a person would eat it like candy.

        As I recall, my teacher indicated that she liked it but we lived in the city and never tried making this.

        Your snow ice cream recipe sounds good but I won't get to try it because, with or without chemicals, we don't get snow in southern Arizona.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

        That was the last year I lived in Cleveland before moving to Jacksonville, FL. I must say I don't miss blizzards! I remember driving by the airport a couple of days after the worse of the storm and the snow was plowed off the road and it was like going through a tunnel of snow as the sides were at least 10' high. As for snow cream, it is delicious. I never tried it with peaches but it sounds good. Very interesting hub.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
        Author

        Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Moonlake - No yellow snow in the ingredients! Eggs will make the final product yellowish lol.

        kimh039 - Babies last longer than ice cream!

        ktrapp - I look forward to your recipe for Snow Blower Ice Cream in the near future. :)

      • ktrapp profile image

        Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

        I think I could have made enough snow ice cream to feed the country after last winter! I am hoping that is not the case this year, but I will vote your article useful since your ice cream made me think of blizzards, which made me think winter is coming, which made me think I better get my snow blower tuned up.

      • kimh039 profile image

        Kim Harris 6 years ago

        I lived in Ohio, but joined the Army in October 78. Thankfully, I spent October to December in Alabama and Jan to April in Tx. I was however in Denver during the blizzard of 82 - and during that blizzard our first daughter was conceived:) We were making something, but it wasn't ice cream.

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 6 years ago from America

        My Mom use to make snow ice cream. We were always told it couldn't be made from the first snow but after that she could make it. We loved it. We would get the snow for her but we had to be sure it wasn't YELLOW.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
        Author

        Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        Shaved ice can be fun as well.

        And, before anyone thinks of it, probably the snow made at commercial ski slopes is laced with chemicals or something.

        Thanks for the comments!

      • FloraBreenRobison profile image

        FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

        The snow here wouldn't be clean for every 24 hours, even without mentioning the additives. Never going to have Snow Ice Cream. I might try the shaved ice, though.

      • Cardisa profile image

        Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

        Oh shucks! I don't get snow here so I can't do this. It's too warm here, I would have to use an icecream maker.

      • dahoglund profile image

        Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

        The old saying "when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade" seems to apply here.Too much ice and snow you made ice cream. very positive outlook.When one lives in the north country they learn to take weather in stride.

      • Moon Daisy profile image

        Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London

        Wow, I've never heard to snow ice cream before, what a good idea, utilising it to make something you can eat!!

        There is talk that we might get snow as early as October (hard to believe with this late summer we're having now, and the 25 degrees C forecast for next week!) But if it happens then at least I will be able to make ice cream! Thanks. :)

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