Play & Freeze for ice cream in the outdoors |

Play & Freeze for ice cream in the outdoors

Naomi Havlen
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Passing through the Ute Mountaineer recently, I was instantly drawn to a display of colorful spheres and the words “Ice Cream.” The camping world is crammed full of novelties – paraffin-covered chocolate, heavy plastic French presses and solar-heated showers – that seek to make the great outdoors a lot more like your condo. So why not find a way to make ice cream?I’ll return in a minute to whether to recommend this contraption for your next camping excursion. But while standing there in the Ute, I decided it might be a good gift for my 3-year-old nephew. The Play & Freeze Ice Cream Maker is a polycarbonate ball that comes in as many colors as a Nalgene bottle. The directions are simple – pack one end with as much ice as possible and about eight tablespoons of rock salt, and fill a container in the other end of the ball with cream, sugar and vanilla.

Shake, rattle and roll the ball around for 15 to 20 minutes (stopping to stir the ingredients within the container at least once,) and you’ll be rewarded with homemade ice cream. The original version of the ball makes a pint; the “MEGA” version makes a quart, and takes 10 to 15 minutes longer.Before I could even think about buying a Play & Freeze for my nephew, my sister sent me one for my birthday, along with a pack of four different “flavors” to make chocolate, strawberry, blackberry and mint-chocolate ice cream. I took it over to a friend’s house to try it out, and immediately came to a few conclusions:First, it’s pretty heavy when full – a total of 7 pounds for the small ball and 9-10 pounds for the larger ball. We took the orb into the hallway for a roll, but my friend lives on the third floor of her building and strives to be a good neighbor. Throwing this ball around isn’t a good idea – dropping it could result in disastrous cracking or even shattering. Rolling it on the grass would be a perfect solution.

As for camping with the Play & Freeze, consider that you’ll have to bring plenty of ice – more than it takes to keep the beer cold. That doesn’t seem very convenient to me, but some campers are willing to go the distance to ensure the comforts of home are right there with them around the campfire.All in all, this ball (which retails for around $30) is a great novelty as long as your group is willing to put some effort into dessert. Roll it around the backyard or pass it from person to person while giving it a good shake, and then dole out the homemade ice cream. It’s a nice change of pace from the extra-hardened pints in the grocery store.

Personally, I won’t take my Play & Freeze camping until I find a cooler that actually keeps enough ice frozen for beer and ice cream. Now that sounds like heaven.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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