Thanks so much to the Michigan Assistive Technology (AT) Program Blog for this just-in-time-for-summer AT advice!
By Jen Mullins, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff
The weather where I live in lower Michigan has been fairly hot lately (or at least, hotter than I would like!) Frozen treats seem to help with cooling down, but sometimes aren’t the easiest to access. Typical ice cream scoops require a good amount of upper body strength, cold temperature tolerance in hands, hand strength & grip, and muscle endurance. For someone who has a disability that impacts any of these areas, scooping hard, dense, frozen cream/sorbet/gelato/custard with a traditional scoop is not always possible. Thankfully, there are some great assistive technology supports available!
The Ice Cream Scoop & Stack cuts slices of ice cream (instead of scoops): “Push the Ice Cream Scoop & Stack into firm ice cream. The beveled front edge of the scoop makes it easy to cut through even the hardest ice cream. Twist just a bit and then lift. Press the button at the top of the Ice Cream Scoop & Stack to release the ice cream.” No traditional scooping needed!
“Beaked” ice cream scoops like the Oxo Good Grips I-Series offer a more precise solution: the large, aluminum beak of this ice cream scoop breaks into hard ice cream and the ejector or trigger button on the scoop handle helps to get the ice cream out of the scoop. I like that this scoop also has Oxo’s usual non-slip coating; making it easier for my dry-skinned-hands to grip it while I’m scooping.
Heat-conducting scoops & spades like ones from Zeroll have heat conductive fluid sealed within the handle. The scoop or spade uses the heat from the user’s hand to warm the fluid in the handle which transfers to the scoop and glides thru the frozen ice cream with less resistance. Something to note about this scoop is that it needs to be hand washed and can’t go in the dishwasher.
A low-tech AT idea for scoops is to use a muffin tin. Let ice cream soften for a while and then scoop soft ice cream scoops into muffin tins (lined with plastic wrap) & refreeze. When you want a scoop, it’s ready and waiting without having to fight with the chilled cream.
A piece of non-slip drawer liner or a silicone baking mat can be helpful when placed under an ice cream carton. The liner or mat will do a better job of keeping the container stable while you scoop than a smooth counter surface. And, if the carton is too cold to touch with your non-scooping hand, consider sliding on a grippy oven mitt to better hold the container while you scoop. You can put the other grippy mitt on as well to help better hold the scooper.
Home ice cream makers can also be great AT for frozen treats as they allow you to decide which ingredients to include to meet your specific dietary requirements. I also like homemade ice cream because right after it’s done churning, its consistency is like soft serve and it can be “scooped” and enjoyed without the need for brute scoop force! In a previous blog post, I shared about how I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer as one of my AT supports in the kitchen and it’s worth noting that Kitchenaid does have an ice cream maker attachment for their stand mixers. A few years ago my sister gifted me the ice cream maker attachment and I’ve really enjoyed using it (plus, it takes up less space than a whole, separate ice cream machine).
For treats that you can enjoy straight out of the freezer like ice pops, Popsicles, Drumsticks, or my favorite: fudgesicles, there’s also AT that can help with holding, gripping, and cold temperature tolerance:
A DripStik can make a small treat handle larger/easier to hold while catching melty drips and can be used to hold larger treats like ice cream cones! Bonus: you can easily set down your treat when it’s in a DripStik.
Ice pop sleeves provide a layer of material between the frozen treat and your skin so it’s easier to hold & grip. Bonus: they are reusable & insulated so they keep the treats colder! If someone needs a thicker sleeve, duct tape can come to the rescue: position the sleeve on a frozen ice pop and gently wrap the tape around the sleeve until it’s at the desired thickness. Be careful not to tape so tightly that the sleeve won’t come off of the pop.
If you’re looking for AT supports for your whole bbq or picnic (and not just for dessert), check out our archived webinar: AT for Your Accessible Picnic.
I hope this information helps you stay cool (& frosty!) during this summer season!