From maple candy to simple snow ice cream, here’s how to put the bounty of winter to work.
Snow is a wonderfully ephemeral form of precipitation, turning from crystalline wonder into plain water at the whims of ambient temperature. So fleeting is it that we don’t often think of incorporating it into food, but there are actually some lovely ways to employ snow in making things to eat.
If you’re concerned about the wisdom of eating snow, given the grime of our atmosphere, you're not alone. But Anne Nolin, a professor at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, tells Popular Science it’s a perfectly safe endeavor. “Everyone should eat snow because it’s really fun,” she says.
Nolin says that most snow is just as clean as any drinking water. Snow is formed as ice crystals cling to particles of dust or pollen, but Nolin notes that these are the same tiny particles we normally breathe. And as snowflakes fall, they shun the soot and other air pollutants that raindrops are better suited at attracting. Just avoid snow that has been on the ground for a while and has picked up dirt; and although a joke about eating yellow snow would be cliché here, we will advise not to eat pink snow – a rosy hue indicates an algae that belies its pretty color.
So without further ado, let’s eat snow.
1. Vanilla snow ice creamThe how-to here calls for cream or milk and sugar; you can also play around with alternative sweeteners that are healthier than refined sugar. As demonstrated above, making it outside will help it not to melt.
2. Vegan coconut maple snow cream
- 8 cups snow
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Chill the can of coconut milk and skim off the cream (or leave it on if you want a more decadent dish). Put the snow in a large bowl, stir in ingredients, lightly mix until combined.
3. Sugar on snow (maple candy)
Heat maple syrup in a pan to around 234F degrees and drizzle it in strips over packed snow. Because it cools so quickly, it does not have a chance to crystalize and instead, as if by alchemy, transforms into a taffy-like treat that can then be swirled onto a popsicle stick. And perhaps the best part is the quirky accouterments that are traditionally served with it: sour pickles, and saltine crackers or plain doughnuts.
4. Peppermint snow ice creamWhile mixing cream and sugar as in the video on top is one way to go, if you’re snowbound with a can of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, you’re in luck. And if you happen to have some stray peppermint extract, even luckier. Would it be too much to ask to discover some broken candy canes somewhere for a touch of garnish?
- 8 cups snow
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
If you want, place the can of milk outside and allow it to chill. Put the snow in a large bowl, stir in chilled milk and peppermint, lightly mix until combined. Yum.
5. Spicy honey candy with sea salt
- 1 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Cayenne pepper and sea salt to taste
Such a simple treat! Mix honey with vanilla and cayenne to desired level of heat. Pour gobs of honey in clean snow and roll them around with a spoon until formed into balls, remove from snow and sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Spiked Ginger-orange sno conesSpiked sno cones are as easy as taking your favorite cocktail recipe and pouring it over snow. Voila! If you need inspiration, try this recipe for Organic Ginger-Orange Cocktail Made with Bourbon and Sake that uses fresh ginger, bourbon, sake, orange juice and simple syrup. Instead of adding ice, drizzle the concoction over scoops of tightly packed snow.
7. Hot cocoa snow slushiespilled the beans and now we know the secret. Here is the recipe, adapted to be combined with snow for the world’s best hot cocoa snow slushie.
- 3 ounces of your favorite chocolate
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 cups snow
- Whipped cream
Chop the chocolate into little pieces and melt in a double boiler over simmering water. Add cocoa and sugar, stir constantly until blended. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup milk until smooth, and cool to room temperature. Once cool, add the remaining milk and stir the mix into snow until slushie-like. Top with whipped cream. Indulge.