Ice Cream Makers: 6 Must-Know Facts

August 20, 2013

Ice Cream Makers: 6 Must-Know Facts

Are you ready to take your love of  ice cream to the next level and start making your own at home? We can help. Here’s the scoop on what you’ll need to know before you invest in an ice cream maker.

1. Type

If you’re imagining an ice cream maker with a retro-artisanal charm, you’re probably thinking of a bucket-style ice cream maker. These use ice or salt water to freeze your dessert while it churns. They come in hand-cranked models (no electricity required, but you will need plenty of elbow grease!) and electric versions that you can simply plug in.

Gel canister models are among the most common types of ice cream makers. These use a bowl/canister that you freeze (usually overnight), before adding your ingredients. Then you put the bowl in in the machine, press a button, and wait for your dessert to be ready.

Folks who want to go all out can opt for a machine with a compressor: A compressor chills ingredients at temperatures below freezing (electric and hand cranked makers can’t get this cold), and is also able to make continuous batches of ice cream.

2. Size

Check the size before you buy. We’re not just talking about the physical size–although you want to purchase a device that’s easy to store–but about how much of the cold stuff it’s going to make at one time. Those flying solo may not want an ice cream maker that makes up to six quarts. On the flip side, families with ice cream loving kids, or people who want to make batches for their big summer barbecues, will want to choose a maker that doles out more than a few scoops at a time.

3. Flexibility

If variety is the spice of your life, you might not want a machine that just makes ice cream, when you can get one that will also make frozen yogurt, sorbet, or gelato.

4. Prep Speed

Those who don’t want to scream too long for their ice cream may want to look for an ice cream maker that takes only 20 minutes, rather than one that takes 30, 40 or even 60 minutes to churn out the good stuff. (Note: Many people store their canister-model ice cream bowl in the freezer so it’s always ready, so prep speed is mainly about the time it takes to make ice cream.)

5. Insulation

Look for extras like a hermetic seal and double insulated bowl. They’re going to give you a smooth, creamy consistency through and through. Plus, a double insulated bowl eliminates the need to add ice. Sounds good to us.

6. Ease of Clean-Up

DIY ice cream shouldn’t end up being a sticky disaster.  Snag a machine with a large spout and ingredients will end up in the mixer — not all over your counter. And after a delicious dessert, the last thing you want to encounter is a tough clean up. Look for a machine that’s easy to take apart, so you can tidy up post-feast without getting an ice cream headache.

Have a must-share tip for snagging the perfect ice cream maker? We want to know! Tell us in the space below.

Megan Mostyn-Brown

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