Here’s the Scoop: Home Ice Cream Makers

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Of course you should make your own ice cream.

It’s fresher than what you’ll buy, with no artificial flavors, stabilizers, or weird freezer taste. You control the ingredients: high-fat or low, dairy or not, honey-sweetened or sugar; and you can stretch your creativity with flavors and add-ins.

Sure, there are plenty of places around town to get a decent scoop, but you’ll pay through the nose for it. Even a supermarket pint can run you upward of $4. Since the average American consumes around 23 quarts of ice cream in a year (and you can double that if you’re from Seattle, Portland, OR, or St. Louis), we’re talking about some serious coin.

Home ice cream makers have come a long way in a short time. In an earlier era they were big and clunky and complicated and expensive. Today, a little online hunting can net you a perfectly respectable model for under $50.

Ice cream makers have to do two things simultaneously: freeze and stir the mixture so that it is aerated and free of ice crystals. There are hundreds of models to choose from, and each is differentiated by the manner in which these two things are accomplished.

Unless you’re a fool for nostalgia, you really don’t want a traditional, manual ice cream maker. Cumbersome and messy, you have to load them up with ice and salt as the freezing agent, and then hand crank your mixture.

Some of the newer manual styles come in the spherical shape of a soccer ball. Load the canister with your ingredients, ice and salt in the other end, and go play soccer. The agitation from the activity churns the mixture, and you’ll have ice cream by half-time.

Electric ice cream machines give you near-instant gratification. The coolant is built in and a motor drives the churning paddle. Most will deliver ice cream in around 20 minutes, and are ready to turn around and crank out another batch. If you’re spending less than $100 on an ice cream maker, you’ll probably have to pre-freeze the internal canister before adding your mixture. The pricier models have built-in compressors providing refrigeration.

Bonus: whatever style you choose, your ice cream maker will pull double-duty as a frozen margarita or daiquiri machine.

If you need another reason to make your own, read Something’s Fishy About that Low-Fat Ice Cream.

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3 Responses to Here’s the Scoop: Home Ice Cream Makers

  1. Dana says:

    I didn’t know they made soccer ball ice cream makers! I’ve totally put together an apparatus like that involving coffee cans, ice, salt, and an emergency blanket in order to play soccer with, but an ice cream maker made to do just that? Great idea!

  2. Janice says:

    Thank you for those overlooked suggestions. I must say, though, that prices have come down so much that the Kitchen Aid attachment is actually a more costly option than a dedicated ice cream maker. If space is not a huge concern, I would still recommend the machine.

  3. Sam says:

    Also worth mentioning:

    Soy cream
    Goats milk ice cream
    Goodbye Pinkerry, hello homemade fro-yo
    Stand mixer attachments a la Kitchen Aid

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