Which Is the Best Ice Cream Machine for You?

Dana Cree is the author of Hello, My Name is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop. She joined the Clever Cookstr to talk about various ice cream methods, coming up with different flavor combinations, and the difference between add-ins from ripples to bits to chunks.

Kara Rota,
May 2, 2017
Episode #149

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We are joined today by Dana Cree, executive pastry chef of The Publican restaurants in Chicago and the author of the book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop. Many ice cream books tend to choose a method and stick to it, whether that means using a particular kind of machine or a particular stabilizer. In this book, Dana really explores the pros and cons of various methods and why they work the way they do. Read below for an excerpt that will help you choose the ice cream method to perfect your technique this summer.

The Machines

If you want to make ice cream, you have to have an ice cream machine. There are no two ways about it. You do have choices, though, when you decide which ice cream maker to bring into your kitchen; they all have pros and cons for you to weigh. The various home models fall into three categories: machines with pre-frozen inserts, machines with built-in compressors, and machines with buckets filled with salt and ice. The physics behind all these machines is identical. In fact, the basic mechanics of ice cream machines haven’t evolved much since the mid-nineteenth century, so let’s start there.

Hand-Crank Salt and Ice Machines

The earliest ice cream makers depended on ice and salt to freeze the ice cream base. The styles vary, but basically these machines are made of an internal metal canister with a fixed double-blade dasher, a larger external bucket, and a top yoke that allows you to crank and turn the internal canister. You fill the canister with liquid ice cream base and submerge it in the bucket, which is then filled with a slush of ice and rock salt. The physical reaction between the salt and ice interferes with the freezing point of water, causing it to melt but stay liquid below 32°F (similar to how sugar prevents water from freezing in your ice cream!). This super-chilled water surrounds the canister, and the ice cream inside will freeze around the edges. As you crank, the canister rotates, and the blades of the dasher scrape the newly frozen ice cream from the walls, stirring it into the liquid ice cream mix. Historically, ice cream was consumed immediately after churning, as there was no refrigeration to further freeze and harden (or store) the frozen dessert.

You can still hand-churn your ice cream in this fashion by using an old-fashioned hand-crank machine. I have one at home, and it makes a wonderful group activity, especially when children are around. You’ll need a large bag of ice, and rock salt (table, kosher, or other cooking salt is too small and just dissolves into the water).

The biggest advantage to this machine is the ability to churn more than one flavor a day, unlike the more-popular machines that use canisters you chill in the freezer a day ahead of time. You can just keep reloading the machine with more salt and ice, and churn ice cream all day long! These machines often can churn bigger batches, too—up to a gallon of ice cream at a time—allowing you to feed large groups of ice cream lovers.


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