Deciding on what type of ice cream maker you want will be a tough decision because there are so many different kinds and models to choose from.
The first think you need to do is consider how you will use it. Is it a once a year family reunion item. Make one batch of vanilla, torture the teenagers with a turn at cranking, and everyone gets a small taste? Or will you use it more often and experiment with different recipes and come up with your own monthly or even weekly favorites?
Ice Cream Maker – Manual Labor
They haven’t changed much since the first one was made. They might be made of hard plastic instead of wood and metal but there is still a bucket for the ice and rock salt and a paddle attached to the lid and a hand crank.
They are easy to use. You just put the ingredients for your ice cream recipe in the smaller container. Now insert the paddle churn and attach the lid. Then you put the smaller container inside the larger, outer bucket or bowl. There will be space between the two and this is where you put in the crushed ice and rock salt mixture. Keeping the ice and salt mixture going is what helps freeze the ice cream.
It this time you attach the hand crank to the lid on the inner container and start cranking. This is the important part. The more you aerate the mixture, the more uniform the consistency of the ice cream. Aerating the mixture is what keeps the solution from forming ice crystals. If you keep up a constant pace the frozen product will be creamier.
Ice Cream Maker – The Wonders of Electricity
These are pretty much the same as a manual machine. But instead of using whatever child labor is around to turn the crank, the paddle is driven by electricity. There are some models that have their own freezing system. These are usually more expensive. Most of the models still require you to use crushed ice and rock salt to freeze the ice cream.
Ice Cream Maker – In The Freezer
There are ice cream makers that utilize a thick walled bowl for the interior container instead of what looks like a large coffee can. This bowl has a solution injected between the double walls. You have to freeze the bowl before you put anything in it. The time needed to pre-freeze the bowl can be from 8 to 24 hours.
You will know the bowl is frozen when you shake it and can’t hear any liquid inside. Once the bowl is frozen you put it in the ice cream maker and put the ice cream ingredients inside the bowl. Now just put the lid on and plug in the electric-powered churner. There is no ice or salt to add for this type of ice cream maker and no salt water mess to clean up at the end.
Ice Cream Maker – Self-Contained
These ice cream makers allow you to add the ingredients to the machine and turn it on. No ice, no rock salt, no pre-freezing a bowl. These ice cream makers have a built in freezing system and an electric paddle to turn the ice cream.
Ice Cream Maker – Magic Salt
For those machines that need ice, the salt is very important. And you really do need rock salt. Don’t waste your time with table salt or sea salt or anything else. The ice cream won’t freeze as fast or as hard.
Why salt on the ice? Think about your icy sidewalks in the winter. To get the ice to melt you throw out salt. Salt will lower the freezing point of ice. Without salt, water freezes at 32 degrees. If you add 10% salt, the water won’t freeze until it gets to 20 degrees. Increase the salt in the water to 20% and the water won’t freeze until it drops to 2 degrees. The more salt, the colder it gets around the ice cream mixture and you’ve created an environment that allows the milk mixture to freeze.