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May 24, 2007 08:11 AM

soft serve ice cream machine

Has anyone tried one of these? I was thinking about buying one, really for my 2 nieces who are 7 and 4. I thought it might be a fun thing to do with them on the weekend with all the fresh fruit that will be coming into season. Do they work? I am considering one similar to the attached. They have been on sale everywhere for about $50. Any comments?

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  1. OK , here is my take on the "deni soft serve maker" and other similar ice cream makers AND the suitability of these for KIDS.

    #1 They do work. The "pre-freeze canister systems" that these types of home ice cream makers utilize are a good compromise. They are NOT as cold as rock salt /ice brine slurry, but they are FAR easier to setup & clean.

    #2 They STILL require A LOT of pre-planning. You have to freeze that cannister ahead of time. Folks with a spare freezer might be able to 'store' the empty cannister in the freeze, that helps for spontaneity, but COLD is not all you need. You need to have the ingredients for ice cream/soft serve, might not sound like a big deal, but going through the ingredients is somewhat costly, takes more space than you'd imagine, and takes more time than you'd think.

    #3 Making the product is really pretty boring. You mix up the stuff. Few recipes require cooking or even more than a thorough mixing. You pour it into the machine. You turn it on. It makes A WHOLE LOT OF NOISE. You wait until it gets as thick as it can. You serve it. For my "kitchen time with kids" baking is a WHOLE LOT more fun/magic.

    #4 The product is NOT much like commercial ice cream/frozen yogurt. The biggest problem is it MELTS INSANELY FAST. This is partly due to the fact that the stuff never gets as cold as the commercially made stuff, but more due to what is NOT in most home made -- the texture modifiers. No agar or carrageen means that stuff is liquid. And the relative lack of HFCS/ sugar means that there is not as great freezing point depression. Bottom line -- it will melt faster than almost any kid will eat it. Giant messes ensue.

    #5 Truth in advertising. The soft serve that is pumped out of machines at DQ or other places is entirely stabilized. You can form happy layers, dippsy tops, piped effects, whatever. Ain't no way that is going to happen with any of the deni soft serve machines.

    Is the stuff yummy? You bet. Can an adult make all kinds of concoctions with one. Certainly. Is this a good gift for 7 & 4 year old? Not really. Frankly, based on my growing up, I would guess I started to get serious about making things in the kitchen probably around 9 or 10. I still have an old fashioned Proctor Silex ice cream maker from when I was about that age. The whole ice + salt = really cold brine thing did make sense around that time. I had the maturity to actually cook the rare recipe that needed it, and the responsibility to clean up the stuff too. Big difference between 2nd grade and 5th...