UCO Softshell Ice Cream Ball
Iowa. January. Negative zero temps. You know what that means, folks – it’s the perfect time to make ice cream at home.
We tested the UCO Softshell Ice Cream Ball. This product claims you can “make ice cream anywhere” by simply filling the ball with ingredients and ice, then rolling it around until it turns into a sweet and creamy frozen treat. Sounds like a ball, right?
Upon unpacking the product, we were surprised to find the design very simple – it’s about the size of a soccer ball with lids on both the top and bottom. One chamber holds ingredients and the other is filled with ice and salt. They whole thing was so straightforward and seemingly self-explanatory that we read the short manual at least three times, certain that we were missing something.
For our test run we went with the basic vanilla ice cream recipe, filling the first chamber with just cream, sugar, and vanilla. Into the second chamber went the ice and salt. The recipe recommends rock salt; however, any kitchen salt can be used. The type of salt does affect how cold it will get and thus how much rolling you’ll be in for – but the instructions have a handy guide on how different salts and ice cream ingredients will affect the timing.
Now it was time to roll. Our energetic assistants (ages 7 & 10) were eager to provide the manpower for this – for the first 5 minutes. At that point they needed a little encouragement to keep this 7-8lb ball going, so we alternated passing the ball with our hands and feet, careful not to let it stop moving lest we make an ice ball instead of ice cream.
The result was surprisingly creamy, delicious ice cream. While many will recall the overly sweet, grainy ice cream our parents made with the old-fashioned home machine (sorry Dad!), the Ice Cream Ball produced velvety smooth ice cream. We all agreed it rivals many premium brands you might buy at the store (I’m looking at you, $6 pint with the umlaut in your name). Overall, our testers were pleased with, though exhausted by, all their hard work rolling.
PRO TIPS: Instructions state the ball should be rolled for 10 minutes, then opened to examined progress, and rolled another 5-10 minutes at a time as needed. We actually had fully formed ice cream in first 15 minutes. What we didn’t anticipate was how quickly our ice cream would start to solidify once the ball stopped moving. Getting all the ice cream out quickly proved to be the most challenging step. We were cautioned against using metal utensils because they can damage the inner chamber, but both a rubber spatula and wooden spoon proved futile at extracting all our delicious ice cream. We recommend you have a rigid plastic utensil on hand when it’s time to scoop.
Overall, we give the UCO Ice Cream Ball a 4 out of 5 star rating. It gets high marks for being fun and easy to use, but the outer rubber shell design is two pieces, which may collect a lot of dirt as it’s rolled around. Bonus: it’s a great way to get some exercise and reward yourself with a sweet treat at the end.