Tips for Working with Your Ice Cream Maker

A work in progress collection of tips for getting more out of your ice cream maker.

Ice Cream Hardness

Hard ice cream doesn’t come straight out of any home ice cream maker. In freezer canister based models it will never be harder than soft serve (but it should be at least that hard, not cold soup!) In freezer compressor units you will end up a consistency more like soft scoop. A scoop of ice cream straight from the machine will hold its shape in a bowl. If you want it harder than that you will have to store your ice cream in the freezer at least a few hours. Think about it. The motor of any maker not the size of a refrigerator would burn out if it was asked to churn what many people consider properly hard ice cream. Which leads me to..

Your ice cream maker is not a food processor.

Don’t expect it to churn ultra dense mixtures loaded with candy, nuts, ball bearings, giant chunks of x, y, z etc… This is especially true of any freezer canister or less expensive compressor unit. With freezer canister units stick to simple, non chunky flavors or add small quantities of mix-ins near the end of churning a little at a time.

freezer_canisterTips for Freezer Canister Models.

If you have trouble getting ice cream mixes to freezer, I feel your pain. Try the following.:

  • Make half recipes. More specifically make 1 pint rather than a quart at a time. If that’s not enough ice cream for what you had in mind and you have the freezer space, buy a second canister and use that for the second 1 pint.
  • Make sure EVERYTHING is very cold. The canister should be rock hard, frozen solid, having been stored for at least 24 hours in the coldest part of your freezer. The mix should be cold bordering on freezing. Experiment with moving it from the refrigerator to your freezer for 30 minutes before freezing. (Note the word “experiment” as you don’t want it to actually freeze. Ideally the mix should be at a temperature between 27° F and 35° F (-2.8° C and -1.7° C). You can read more about pre-chilling techniques here. Make your ice cream in a cold room. I once put the whole canister unit in my freezer and ran an extension cord out. It didn’t work :).
  • If your unit is more than 2 years old and the canister was well frozen and you used a very cold, almost freezing mix and you still ended up with cold soup, it’s not your fault. If the canister doesnt freeze cold enough or melts to quickly your only option is to replace it. Either purchase a replacement canister or better yet buy a real ice cream maker with a built in compressor.

Please share your tips in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Tips for Working with Your Ice Cream Maker

  1. Recently purchased a Cuisinart ICE-21. I freeze the bowl 24 hours or more. All ingredients are chilled until ice crystals form at the edges. I turn on the machine, add ingredients, and within 3 minutes the mix has formed a frozen sheet on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The paddle does not scrape the sides or the bottom of the bowl, and the longer the machine runs, the thicker the frozen mix becomes on the bowl, although the bowl continues to spin with no effort. There is little air incorporated into the mix, resulting in lower yield of finished product.

    I have tried several mixes, low cream content with strawberries and water, as well as 3 cups of cream and eggs for a custard base.

    The bowl has to sit on the counter 45 minutes to an hour or more before the bowl defrosts enough to get the iced mix off the bowl.

    For what it’s worth, I live at 5,000 feet elevation, in northeastern Arizona. The temperatures have been 100º F (+ -) with 20-45% humidity.

    • Sorry to here about these issues, but I,m afraid I’m not surprised. Poorly fitted paddles that end up not scraping the sides of the bowl well, are common among less expensive cream makers. Most people have the opposite problem, with canister style machines; that is the ice cream never freezing. You could try chilling you mix less, maybe just in the refrigerator. On a positive note, the fact that you are not incorporating much air into the mix means that you are essentially making gelato. You may find egg custard based recipes work in your machine a better than Philadelphia style.

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