It’s been awhile since I’ve made a Technology Tuesday post, so let’s dive right in, shall we? Today’s topic is one near and dear to my heart. Ice cream makers. Gone are the days of having to lug around a huge barrel and fill it with rock salt and hope for the best. Today’s ice cream makers are smaller, efficient, and convenient.
The thought of having to buy a special salt to make ice cream seems crazy to me. However, it worked for the time, and you got a great arm workout in the creation process because you had to do all of the cranking yourself. This worked off the principle that salt can actually lower the freezing temperature of water, and make the freezing process of the cream much easier. I say “easier,” but it was still a huge pain in the rear end.
The model I have is a Cuisinart and I love it. The base is a hard plastic with one simple button: On/Off. That’s all you need an ice cream maker to do, turn on and turn off. It literally does all of the work for you. This particular model is about four years old, I would say, but the ice cream maker market hasn’t really changed since then, so you may see slight variations on this theme, but it’s all really the same.
So getting into how it works, it’s really ingenious. Instead of having to deal with rock salt and hand cranks, this maker has a removable core that goes in the freezer. The core itself is metal, probably aluminum, and the liquid inside is a semi-viscous super freezing liquid. Simply place said core into the freezer 24 hours before you want to make ice cream, and it is plenty cold; much colder than water freezing temperature, if I had to guess (and I do). This core cleverly fits into a gear mechanism in the base which aids in spinning (er…churning) so when you turn it on, the base goes round and round.
Along with the core, there is a plastic agitation arm that fits right on the inside. It is designed in such a way that it creates air pockets to let air in the mixture as it thickens, but not too much to where it becomes an air bubble. The core spins around on the gear in the motor, and the arm is held in place by a groove in the plastic top that covers the whole thing. So the liquid ice cream base swirls around this arm and gets thick. Now, the best part of this whole process is that you can go from ice cream base to actual ice cream in about 20 minutes depending on your mixture. And there’s no labor to be done. Sure beats the pants off the old way, if I do say so myself! Another great part of the plastic arm, is that it gives you something to lick off when the churning is done.
The plastic top has a large opening in it so that you can add your ice cream base with the lid on and get things going right away. As a general rule, you want to make sure the machine is running while you pour the liquid in, otherwise the bottom may start to set (yes, it really can happen that quick) before you are ready for it to.
Once the churning is done, you are left with a very nice frozen yogurt-type of dessert. However, you should place this mixture into an air-tight plastic container and put it in the freezer to harden for at least 2 hours. This will give it a time to mellow out, and set into a really nice texture.
I’m not going to get into any ice cream recipes this time, because there are thousands. Ice cream making is limited only by your imagination, and almost any flavor can be made into ice cream (see: bacon ice cream). I’ve used my ice cream maker a number of times and I have yet to experience any issues with it. Cuisinart is a good, reliable name in the world of kitchen cookware, and I would recommend their brand of ice cream makers. They are relatively cheap (certainly less than $50) and are really great to have on hand. Let’s face it, you never know when you will want to make some delicious ice cream.Stay positive, love your life and play with your food 🙂