Making ice cream in a bag is the perfect way to spend educational quality time with your children or to learn a new way to make ice cream from scratch other than using an ice cream maker. The concepts of making ice cream in a bag are food science, freezing, chemistry, phases of matter, and solutions. This ice cream in a bag experiment is one science demonstration your children will want to do all the time.
Table of Contents
- The Science Behind Ice Cream in a Bag
- Ice Cream in a Bag Recipe
- How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag
- Why Make This with Your Kids?
- How to Involve Your Kids
- Fun Games to Play While Making Bagged Ice Cream
- Can You Make Different Flavors?
The Science Behind Ice Cream in a Bag
Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, creamy, savory treat, especially when you make it yourself? The science behind ice cream in a bag is simple: ice cream is a compound that contains a variety of ingredients, including salt. Salt is added to the mixture to decrease the melting point of the ice. A familiar example of lowering the melting point of ice is putting salt on the roads during the winter. Before ice can melt, it needs to first absorb heat from its surroundings. The ice cream in the bag can freeze because the ice draws the heat away from ice cream.
Once you mix all the necessary ingredients in the bag, they will bond together. When chemicals are bound together by chemical means, they cannot be separated using physical methods and another chemical reaction must occur for the ingredients to separate.
What Makes Ice Cream Creamy?
One of the characteristics of ice cream is its creamy texture. Ice cream in a bag is made from ice crystals, sugar, air, and fat. The more you shake the ingredients in the bag, the smaller the ice crystals become. More air is also incorporated into the ice cream mixture as you shake the bag. Making the ice crystals smaller and adding more air to the mixture makes the ice cream creamier. If creamy ice cream is a must-have in your family, you can create extra creamy ice cream by altering the fat content of the heavy whipping cream. Half-and-half heavy whipping cream makes ice cream smooth and creamy.
Why Does Shaking Dairy in a Bag Make Ice Cream?
Ice cream is an emulsion, which is a mixture of at least two immiscible liquids. Examples of an emulsion are salad dressings and vinegarette. Oil and vinegar separate, but the two can be combined using a whisk or similar item. When the two ingredients are not being mixed, they will separate until they are mixed again.
Why Is Salt Needed to Create Ice Cream in a Bag?
Salt is an essential ingredient for making ice cream in a bag because it lowers the melting point of ice, giving you more time to shake the bag of ingredients to help the ice cream solidify. The colder the ice is surrounding the ice cream, the faster the ice cream freezes.
Ice Cream in a Bag Recipe
To make ice cream in a bag, you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of half-and-half
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup of ice cubes
- 3 tbsp ice cream rock salt
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Ice cream scoop
- (2) Small sealable bags (sandwich or pint)
- (2) gallon-size sealable bags
- Oven mitts (small towel)
- Ice maker
- Ice cream container
How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag
In each small bag, add 1 cup of half-and-half, one-quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one tablespoon of sugar. Seal the bags and place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
- There are two gallon-size storage bags. In one of these bags, add four cups of ice cubes. Once you place the ice cubes in the bag, add one-half cup of salt in the bag.
- Get one small storage bag with the mixture you prepped earlier and place it into a large bag, sealing the large bag shut.
- Using oven mitts, shake the bag for 5 minutes. If you’re using a small towel, wrap the towel around the bag and shake it for 5 minutes.
- Add four cups of ice cubes to the other gallon-size bag.
- Get the other small bag you prepped in the previous step and place the small bag into the large bag. Make sure you seal both bags.
- Wearing oven mitts or using a small towel, shake the large bag for 5 minutes.
- After shaking each large bag for at least 5 minutes, ice cream should begin to form. Keep shaking the mixture until the ice cream is the consistency you prefer.
- Enjoy the ice cream!
Why Make This with Your Kids?
Making ice cream in a bag is an excellent way to spend time with your kids and create a learning experience. It’s a simple activity like this one that stands out in a child’s mind. You can enhance your child’s critical thinking skills and help them apply theories based on the information they have. This experience is science at its best. When you engage your children, they are more likely to retain what they learn.
Engaging Your Children
Engaging your children has a variety of benefits. If you have more than one child, it’s possible they have different learning styles, including:
All children benefit from engaging experiments regardless of their preferred learning style. Children who are kinesthetic or tactile learners learn through movement or hands-on activities are more involved with this experiment. Auditory learners, children who like to discuss what they are doing throughout the experiment, are also more engaged. If your child is a visual learner, they get to observe what they are creating and able to draw a hypothesis from what they see. If your child is a social learner, they benefit from learning in a small group. These benefits include strengthening their communication skills, confidence, and content knowledge.
Experimenting with Trial and Error
Allowing your children to experiment with trial and error will enable children to learn from their mistakes and understand the differences between their theory and the results of the experiment. Trial and error help your child better understand certain factors and situations, such as cause and effect. Kids can also learn how to solve different challenges by using the trial and error process to figure which solutions work and which ones don’t.
How to Involve Your Kids
There are different ways to involve your kids with the ice cream in a bag experiment. You can show your children how learning experiences can be fun by turning the experiment into a puzzle or a mystery. Create a worksheet asking them different questions to help them understand the experiment and remember specific aspects of the experiment. You’d be surprised at how much fun your kids will have when they are engaged in activities.
You can take out the necessary ingredients and let your kids measure how much they need and put the ingredients in the bag. The more involved your children are, the more they will remember about the experiment and be able to tell you about the things they learned.
Fun Games to Play While Making Bagged Ice Cream
If the weather permits, you can do this experiment outside on a table and tell your kids to take notes on the things they observe. You can add an extra gallon-size bag to the experiment, but don’t put ice in the bag. Use another small bag with the mixture in it, and ask your children to observe what happens to the bag that contains ice and the bag that does not include ice. Then you can ask your children to explain the differences and why they think the differences occurred.
Turning this experiment into a mystery is also an option you can use to involve your kids. Before you start the experiment, ask your kids which ingredients they think you need to make the ice cream. You can also set the ingredients on the table and ask them what they think the ingredients are used to make.
You can also hide the ingredients and send your children on a scavenger hunt with a list of the items they need to complete the experience. Once they collect the ingredients, the kids can put them in a designated area. Then, you can ask different questions about the experiment and ask your kids to create a hypothesis.
If your kids love to go shopping, let them help you shop for the ingredients you need. Children who are engaged often feel loved and cherished. Shopping with your children is another way you can bond with them. While you’re shopping for different ingredients, you can incorporate another learning experience by teaching your kids how to budget and save money.
Can You Make Different Flavors?
Yes! Whatever you can think of, you can make. Get inspired with an ice cream cookbook, or you can use different extracts of the flavors you want. You can use real fruit to give your ice cream a splash of flavor. Add a few sprinkles and whipped cream. Ask your children which flavors they are interested in making and help them create their favorite flavors. You can use a variety of oils, tea, coffee, nuts, fresh herbs, and other items to add personality to your ice cream.
Use different jams and preservatives to add flavor to your ice cream. If you’re interested in creating a contrast in texture, such as smooth with a little crunch, consider adding pretzels or canned potato sticks. You can also add peanut butter and different nuts to ice cream, including almonds and walnuts. Kids often enjoy colorful treats, so you can try adding their favorite cereal to the ice cream. Be as creative as possible without going overboard with the toppings. Add cookies, yogurt, and similar items to create the perfect ice cream buffet. Or, you can keep the toppings traditional and use whipped cream, chocolate chips, candy bits, and toasted coconut.
If you plan on using acidic ingredients to add flavor to your ice cream, be careful. Blueberries, lemons, and other acidic fruits can curdle the milk if you add the ingredients while the mixture is still warm.
If you want to make unforgettable memories with your children, then the ice cream in a bag experiment is one they will love. This experiment is simple and easy; you don’t have to worry about a big mess to clean up, and the look on your kid’s face when they see the ice cream forming is priceless! These are the memories that will stick with your children forever, so have a blast.