They do vary in what they offer and can range in price from around $80 to $500 and more, so it can be difficult for a first time buyer to decide which one is the best for them. Would you need one with a built-in freezing compressor, one that uses rock salt and ice or a bowl that goes into the freezer? Electric or Manual? If you’re not sure, here are a few questions to consider before buying.
Which Type is Best For Me?
There are two basic types of ice cream makers. Some have a bowl which you chill thoroughly in the freezer before adding the ingredients. These models are inexpensive but do check how long the bowl needs to be frozen for, which freezer setting is required and how long the bowl can be out before it needs to be put back into the freezer again.
Although these ice cream makers are fairly inexpensive, they do mean that you have to plan your ice cream making by ensuring that you have enough room in your freezer for the bowl when you want to pre-freeze it.
The more expensive ice cream makers have freezers built into them – doing away with the need to pre-freeze a bowl. This is obviously much more convenient and means that you can make ice cream whenever you want to, without losing freezer space but this is reflected in the higher price.
How Fast Do You Want Your Ice Cream?
Most ice cream makers produce ice cream within 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how high the quality of the bowl is and how powerful the performance of the motor. Some models do take longer than 40 minutes and if you go for one with a pre-freeze bowl you would have to organized enough to remember to put the bowl into the freezer – so spontaneous ice cream would not be possible.
Is it Easy to Clean?
One of the most common reasons why kitchen appliances end up forgotten in the back of a cupboard is that they are difficult to clean. Check the product description to make sure this doesn’t happen to your new ice cream maker!
What Can I Make?
Most ice cream makers also make frozen drinks, frozen yogurt and sorbet. They often come with a basic recipe book but to get the best out of yours, it’s worth investing in a recipe book especially for these machines. It’s a good idea to buy from a website that features book reviews so that you will know if the book is what you need.
What if it Breaks Down?
Each make and model of ice cream maker will have a different warranty so it’s worth checking out how long the guarantee is before you buy – especially if you are investing in an expensive model.
How Much Ice Cream Do You Want?
Many ice cream makers will give you 0.7 liters in one batch. If you have a large family, you would need one that makes a quart and a half to two quarts. Take a look at the models which use rock salt and ice for cooling as these are generally 1.5 quarts.
How Do You Want To Make It?
It’s still possible to buy the old style hand cranked machines. These are great for people who love retro and don’t want modern equipment in their kitchen. Kids also love to make ice cream this way but do be warned that it takes a while, so if the kids run out of steam, you may find yourself having to finish the process!
Electrical models are quicker and easier but of course, more expensive. They give the best results because the bowl turns at a constant speed. These machines also have an automatic shut off, so when the ice cream is at the correct consistency it stops churning. The machine works out the consistency of the ice cream by monitoring how much the paddles or turning bowl are resisting the ice cream mix as it thickens. So when that resistance reaches a certain level, the ice cream maker recognizes that the ice cream is done.
A downside to the less expensive machines is that they have a tendency for the motor to burn out as churning ice cream is hard work on the paddles, especially as the ice cream thickens and becomes harder to stir.
Do a Little Research…
Take a look online at customer review sites and read what real customers have said about each machine. While you’re checking out the reviews, take a note of the prices and what you get for your money.
Here are our suggestions for the best rated ice cream machines:
Look at Some ‘Real’ Ones
Many people buy electrical appliances online now, which is a good idea as it is so easy to compare various models and the availability is amazing. However, it’s useful to go to a store and take a good look at an actual machine. Does it have a good, strong, heavy blade for stirring? Check out the freezer bowl and visualize (or measure) how much space it will take up in your freezer. Bear in mind that many machines with a bowl system require the bowl to be freezer-chilled for many hours prior to making the ice cream. Would you always have that much space in your freezer?
Does it Come With Any Extras?
Check if the model that you are interested in comes with a special pouring jug or spatula as this will save you having to source these basic tools and it will also save you the extra cost.
- The faster you can freeze your ice cream the richer the taste will be and the smoother the texture. If you are going for a pre-freeze bowl maker, mix your ingredients and then chill them for at least 5 hours before putting them in the ice cream maker and you will get superior results.
- You will know your ice cream is done by how it looks. It should resemble shop-bought soft ice cream. If you are using a pre-freeze bowl, you should get a nice looking ice cream that is fairly solid in texture.
- If the bowl that came with your ice cream maker is made from plastic and you need your ice cream to freeze more quickly, just move it into a metal bowl, cover it foil, and put it back into the freezer. This should halve the time it takes to freeze.
- You can buy packets of ice cream mix but although they are convenient they don’t have the flavor of ice cream made from scratch. Try both and see which you prefer.
If you or your family eat a lot of ice cream, making it at home will save you money, it’s great fun and you can try out endless flavors. Once you have found the ice cream maker that is right for you, ice cream will never be the same again!
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