Ice Cream Debrief

There was so much to talk about on the ice cream front I didn’t have time to get into ice cream makers (much). The wife and I own the basic countertop model, a plastic Cuisinart that does pretty well. There are others to be sure, but the Cuisinart seems to be the in-home standard. The engineering is extremely simple. In place of a salt water reservoir there’s a gel-filled bucket that you keep in your freezer for when you’re feeling inspired. The bucket fits into a receiver that contains a small motor which rotates the bucket and/or an agitator. Pour the chilled mix in and it freezes to the sides of the bucket. The agitator scrapes the thin layer of frozen mix off as it rotates, making room for more etc., etc…

These types of machines freeze most ice cream mixes in about 20-30 minutes, which isn’t half bad. In the case of a rich, egg yolk saturated mix the results can be almost indistinguishable from the commercial grade stuff. Thinner, more water-heavy blends, like the cantaloupe ice cream the wife and I made this weekend, are noticeably icier. The crystals tend to get lost, however, amid all the self-satisfaction.

The process is so easy it’s nearly fool-proof. Yet both the wife and I were convinced the darn machine was defective after we’d failed to freeze our first couple batches of mix. What was the trouble? The freezer was turned down too low. So do yourself a favor when you decide to shell out the $30 for one of these machines and crank up the chill chest as far as it will go. You don’t have to leave it that way, only for as long as it takes to freeze the techno-gel in the cannister solid (about 24-36 hours). Do that and you simply cannot fail.

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