You say you have too much snow and don’t know what to do with it? How about rolling in it, dancing through it, and skiing on it? Make angels; make men. Meditate in the silence of it.
But best of all, eat it!
Once you get past any safety issues, there are many ways to use this seasonal, local, and free ingredient. All are more fun than shoveling. And if you still have qualms, there are other ways to winterize your table. Make a fashionable au naturel chiller for champagne or caviar out of packed snow. Or present freshly shucked oysters on a bed of icy white crystals.
Snow ice cream is my most cherished childhood memory. Fearless in the face of salmonella, my grandmother would make a custard base by mixing a few raw eggs with sugar, cream, and vanilla. Then she would fold it into snow we had captured in a speckled Melmac bowl on the back porch. Which is pretty much how you make any sort of ice cream. Using snow rather than a machine merely saves a step by letting the weather do the freezing for you.
If you don’t want to eat raw eggs, there’s another school of snow cuisine that uses sweetened condensed milk.
Food writer Karen Gaudette Brewer’s The Definitive Guide to Snow Ice Cream with has even more ideas for how to enjoy your surplus harvest.
Gather a big ball of snow and then instead of throwing it at your best friend, plunk it in a gorgeous glass. Top with your imagination.
Author Jenny Gardiner gave me her kids’ secret for drenching with the Italian syrups used in coffee (like Monin and Flavorganics).
Fruit juice works well too, especially sweeter flavors like cranberry cocktail and apple. But a crisp fresh-squeezed lemonade over ice-cold fluff will mentally whisk you away to the summer picnic you might be craving now.
Grown-up kids can experiment with sweetened coffee, green tea, or your favorite tipple (yes to whiskey!) over snow. Let it sit for a minute or two by the fireside and you’ll create the perfect drunken slushie.
Laura Ingalls Wilder has taught many young readers how to thrive in a Midwestern winter. Perhaps no lesson was more fun than how to make candy using snow. By drizzling a hot sugar mixture into freezing snow, it quickly hardens, giving you a close relative of the lollipop.
There are many different traditions, depending on where you live. Maple-friendly regions of Canada and New England tend to favor maple syrup sugar on snow.
But you can’t just drop syrup straight from the bottle onto snow. Whether maple or molasses, be sure to heat your sugar mixture high enough so that it crisps when you pour, but don’t make it so hot that simply end up with melted snow.
These historical and scientific riddles will keep you (or the kids) busy on long snow days. The Old Foodie unearthed several thoughts on snow as a leavener in bread in place of yeast or baking powder. Others use snow as a way to enrich pancakes in the absence of eggs. But there are some who say that it’s the ammonia in the snow that gives a slight rise. Repeated experiments will leave you with the necessary calories to face the shoveling that awaits you.
Enjoy snow from the source, just as childhood intended. Who hasn’t grabbed a handful from a drift and shoved it in their gob? Or turned their mouth upward to the sky for the best amuse-bouche of the season? Does anything taste more of joy than that?
Anne Bramley is a writer and independent scholar living in Norwich, UK. She’s the author of Eat Feed Autumn Winter and the first woman to create a food podcast, Eat Feed, which Saveur called “the finest way to take your food on the road.” Twitter: @eatfeed.