Sailor & Galley: Ice Cream, Anytime

With this recipe, you can indulge in a tasty homemade treat wherever you may roam.
The author on her boat, Outrider
Anne E. Mott bides time aboard Outrider while waiting for homemade ice cream to freeze. Courtesy Anne Mott

You may have heard the saying: Life is like ice cream. Eat it before it melts. 

My husband, Jeff, and I fully embrace this idea for living life to its fullest. We spend most of every year living aboard and cruising our Westsail 42, Outrider, based in San Carlos, Mexico. 

We’re also fans of actual ice cream, but that part of living the good life was elusive on Outrider until recently. Limited freezer capacity meant that, when cravings struck, we were forced to go ashore for a fix. Storing a half-gallon of ice cream on the boat was just not possible.

Not long ago, I was aboard Outrider doing chores when, weary and warm, I craved ice cream. I wasn’t in the mood to go ashore to get it, so instead, I decided to try making it. I knew it was doable; my mother always made her own without much fanfare. Unfortunately, I’d never learned how. All I could remember about her recipe was one ingredient: condensed milk. 

An online search for that ­ingredient netted several recipes. I chose the least-­complicated one. It looked quick and easy. Eventually, I did go ashore—to the supermarket for ingredients—and, back aboard Outrider, I ­dutifully followed the recipe.

“Pour whipping cream into a bowl and beat until it forms a peak,” it instructed. I have only a hand whisk on board. Thirty minutes of increasingly frenetic agitating later, the cream hadn’t whipped into anything resembling a peak. It was as flat as a prairie. Frustrated but determined, I followed the remaining instructions, fearing that this whole exercise was turning into an epic fail. 

With nothing to lose, I poured the mixture into a quart-size freezer container and made space in the freezer. Six hours later, it was ready. The recipe said to eat it within two weeks. Were they kidding? We polished off half of it that night. It was good.

Despite my love of ice cream, I knew I wouldn’t repeat that time-consuming drill every time we craved it, which was often. Fresh whipping cream as an ingredient was also a minus; it’s not a priority when it comes to fridge stowage, and its shelf life is short. 

Perusing local grocery store shelves, I spied an old favorite: Nestle Media Crema—canned table cream. I knew that it was a thick cream, so I decided to give it a try. I grabbed two cans, plus a bottle of vanilla extract and a can of sweetened condensed milk. 

Back on board, I ditched the whipping process and instead whisked the cream for two to three minutes, then added the condensed milk and vanilla extract, and whisked briefly again. I poured the mixture into my container, stuck it in the freezer, and crossed my fingers. 

Wondrously, this ice cream was far superior to the first batch. It was delicious and creamy, sweet and smooth. It was perfect. 

A few weeks later, we set sail before sunrise for a crossing of the Sea of Cortez, bound for Playa Santispac in Bahia Concepcion on the Baja peninsula. About 15 miles out, just as we encountered a line of shrimp boats dragging nets, alarms began sounding. The autopilot flashed a communications error, and the depth sounder stopped working. There was an odd ticking sound coming from somewhere. We swung back toward the marina to sort things out. 

To ease our disappointment, I whipped up a batch of ice cream while we sailed. Safely back in our slip, we relaxed and savored bowls of vanilla perfection, our troubles fading with every delicious spoonful. 

Homemade ice cream on board anytime, anywhere. If that isn’t living the good life, what is? Just remember to eat it before it melts.

Super-Easy Ice Cream (Yields: About 1 quart or 10 scoops)

Ice cream with chocolate sauce on a dish
Super-Easy Ice Cream Lynda Morris Childress
  • 2 7.6-oz. cans Nestle Table Cream*
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1½ Tbsp. vanilla extract or other flavoring
  • 1 cup strawberries, halved, or other berries (optional)
  • Chocolate or other syrup for topping (optional)

* Also sold as Nestle Media Crema. Consistency of other brands may vary.

Pour canned cream into a large bowl. Whisk by hand for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Whisk another 2 minutes, or until smooth. 

Pour mixture into 1-quart freezer container, or divide among smaller containers, and cover with lids. Place in the freezer for at least 6 hours, or overnight. 

Top with syrup and fresh berries, if ­available and desired.

Cook’s Notes: For fruity ice cream, blend and strain 1 cup berries, then add to ice cream mix before freezing. Or cook berries on stovetop with 1 teaspoon water and ¼ cup sugar for roughly 15 minutes. Strain, cool, and ­drizzle on top of the mix to form swirls. 

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus freezing time
Difficulty: Easy
Can be made: At anchor or underway