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Aug 11, 2011 10:44 AM

Recommend a good ice cream maker!

The Chowhound Team split this tangent off from another thread

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Somewhat off topic, I just took out my ice cream maker (after many years of non-use) to find it covered in a yuckie crust. I am assuming the freezable liquid in the base seeped out so I am going to get rid of it and buy another. Can one of you enthusiastic paletas makers recommend a good ice cream maker? I don't need the top of the line, just one that is reliable.

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  1. I have a canister style cuisinart ice cream maker and can't recommend it, alas. I think I bought it at a garage sale for a buck or something. I guess it's not awful, but it's just a pain to use. But, I'll bet someone on the cookware board can steer you in the right direction.


    1. Jeni from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams recommend's the new Cusinart: This is an update on the last model and works even better/faster. You can use the old canisters with it, though since your canister is leaking you won't.

      She says it works even batter than the $300+ models that are self-freezing, because they actually take longer to freeze with each successive batch.

      Btw, I am a HUGE proponent of her new book!

      17 Replies
      1. re: Becca Porter

        Thanks Becca,

        I actually put that exact model on hold at William Sonoma, and I plan to pick it up later today. WS has a special version of this maker with an extra bowl for $69.95. Seems like a pretty good deal since Amazon lists it at $49.00 with only one bowl. Can't wait to make some ice cream this weekend. I just bookmarked 25 contender recipes on EYB.

        1. re: dkennedy


          I am hoping you can help me with clarifying one of Jeni's recipes. I am using a recipe of Jeni's included in ONE BIG TABLE on page 689. It is for her Awesome Dirt Road Ice Cream. I pulled all the ingredients and then reread the recipe and it doesn't clearly explain where and when to add the slurry back into the other ingredients. Do you know from working through her other recipes when I would logically do that?

          1. re: dkennedy

            Yes, generally you boil the milk/cream mixture for four minutes. Then you pour in the slurry while whisking off the heat. Then you add it back to the heat and boil one more minute whisking.

            1. re: Becca Porter

              Thanks Becca. I ran into a couple of problems with my first try but I muscled through and my batch is in the freezer now. If it isn't good, I am going to assume it was pilot error and try again later.

              I did add the cornstarch and return to heat but only briefly. i think i may have not given it enough time to get rid of the raw cornstarch taste. Additionally, I had a boil over issue so I am not sure the proportion of ingredients will be right. Thanks for your help. I am making a correction in my book so I don't run into this problem again.

              1. re: dkennedy

                Wow - that's a pretty major piece of info to leave out. I am too far into it now, having already combined all the chocolates. Seriously bad editing by
                molly or her peeps. I've had the book or a while but just took it out to try something - I'll note this as a serious mark against it.

                Will I miss the cornstarch much? I'm leaving it out.

                1. re: Dan S.

                  Yes you will miss the cornstarch as it is a key part to Jeni's recipes. The corn starch is not there for flavor but to help the home cook attain the creamy texture many homemade ice creams miss. the corn starch, when cooked to at least 95°C, will capture some of the moisture and thicken the ice cream base. As it binds up the moisture it leaves the base thicker and creamier tasting. As the base freezes the moisture that could create the larger ice crystals that typically cause that grainy homemade ice cream texture are bound up by the starch allowing for a much creamier ice cream.

        2. re: Becca Porter

          Quote: She says it works even batter than the $300+ models that are self-freezing, because they actually take longer to freeze with each successive batch.

          As if taking longer to freeze is a positive? How bizarre.

          1. re: rasputina

            I wasn't clear enough. The models with a compressor get hot with use. Therefore, it takes them longer to freeze each successive batch. Which is bad. So, she says you actually get better quality ice cream and ease of use with the Cusinart. It is supposed to freeze in under 20 minutes. (Make sure you freeze the canister for a full 18-24 hours if you freeze it from room temp.)

            1. re: Becca Porter

              But you can't effectively make successive batches in the cuisinart with one canister anyway. So the comparison seems moot.

              1. re: rasputina

                She was just saying that the ability to make successive batches in the expensive machines was flawed, and therefore not worth the cost. It is easy (and inexpensive) to buy another canister for the Cusinart if you need to make 2 batches at a time.

              2. re: Becca Porter

                If it freezes in under 20 minutes, why the need to freeze it for 24 hours?

                There aren't varying degrees of frozen.

                Frozen is frozen.

                1. re: NotJuliaChild


                  The ice cream takes 20 minutes to freeze. The canister takes 18-24 hours to freeze.

                  Also, something that is -30 degrees is more frozen than something 30 degrees....right?

                2. re: Becca Porter

                  Can you keep the canisters in the freezer all the time, or does that mess up the material inside? Thanks.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    I believe you are supposed to keep the canisters in the freezer at all times. I am guessing that is why mine corroded. It has been in a cabinet on it's side for about 5 years!!!!

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      It's not that you are "supposed to" keep it in the freezer all the time; it's just that some people do that so that they can be prepared to make ice cream whenever the mood strikes them.

                      I have that type of machine (with the canister), which I bought about ten years ago, and I only use it for Passover, so I certainly don't leave it in the freezer all year. However, I leave it (upright) in its original box, and have had no problems with it when I take it out every Passover. Maybe something fell on yours in the cabinet, or it somehow got broken in some other way.

                      For the rest of the year, I bought an Italian one (Lello) with its own compressor (about $200 from Amazon), and I love that I don't have to leave anything in my already stuffed freezer. I haven't noticed that it takes longer for the ice cream to freeze, over the couple of years that I've had it. I don't know that I'd say the ice cream and sorbet that I make is superior to that made in the Cuisinart machines, but it is more convenient in terms of space, and I can make batch after batch. While it is inexpensive to buy a second canister for the Cuisinart maker, that would be even worse in terms of space in my freezer, so for me the $200 was worth it. Those who have larger freezers or second freezers might not be as tight on space as I, in my small NY kitchen.

                      1. re: queenscook

                        I am embarrassed to tell you I have 3 freezers..... but at least I have solar power so I am offsetting this absurdity. I have tried to empty the third but it just seems to get refilled. Gulp!

                        1. re: dkennedy

                          Don't tell anyone, but I have 3 freezers too! One in each refrigerator (2) and one a freestanding freezer. All are full!

            2. I have the Cuisinart one with the freezable base. Honestly the ice cream is so much better in my White Mountain ice cream maker ( I have the electric one). IMO it's because the canister is metal and the dasher is cast iron so they get really cold and it freezes much better. I'd love one of those nice Italian jobs but I haven't convinced myself to fork over the $$$

              28 Replies
              1. re: rasputina

                You must go through a lot of ice and rock salt with that puppy. :-)

                I had read elsewhere that the quality (creaminess) is much better when made in a hand-crank (or electric crank) ice cream maker but to be honest I don't have the freezer space to store a lot of ice, nor the arm and back strength to be hauling bags of rock salt.

                We have a Cuisnart ICE20 which was bought about 8 years ago. Having just one canister works fine because we're only 2 people and frankly if it made more than a quart or so at a time we would weigh a lot more than we do, LOL! If there were more in the family I might invest in a spare freezer bowl in case I wanted to make a double batch.

                1. re: skyline

                  Becca, Skyline, and Rasputina,

                  Thank you for all your thoughtful input. I just got home with my new Cusinart ice cream maker. I am going to put the bowls in the freezer overnight and by tomorrow night, if all goes as planned, my family will enjoy homemade ice cream after dinner. I have narrowed down my potential recipes to 25 recipes I tabbed on EYB. I bought milk and cream so I am good to go.

                  1. re: dkennedy

                    Yay! Do try one of Jeni's recipes when you get the chance. I have been making ice cream for years, and these are by far the best I've found!


                      1. re: dkennedy

                        You should know, Jeni eschews the use of eggs in making ice cream, and instead uses cornstarch as a thickener.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          OK, now I may need to buy her book. I hate egg or custard based ice creams, so knowing her ice cream book is egg free, I will take a look. This is very exciting news. Thanks Jay!

                          1. re: Jay F

                            Thanks for posting that, I had looked at her book a few weeks ago and was considering it. After the posts here it's obvious she and I have differing views on ice cream quality. Saved me some money at least.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              Same here. I've never liked eating cornstarch as a thickener. I was shocked once when I saw Jeni's $10 pints at the store, then shocked all over again when I read about the cornstarch.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Yeah...I don't mind corstarch as a binder in some food items, but it's definitely not something I'd want in my ice cream.
                                Good ice cream shouldn't need to use any kind of starchy 'thickeners'.

                                1. re: The Professor

                                  I have to say that I agree and I've never objected to eggs -- either whole eggs or egg yolks.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    I can't imagine anyone's hating egg yolks in ice cream. It seems kind of like hating them in homemade pasta. OTOH, I hate them in any kind of boiled eggs.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      For me, they overpower the other flavors. I like a cleaner, lighter flavor in my ice cream.

                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                        Exactly. Even Pierre Herme prefers his chocolate ice cream without eggs because of the way they interfere with the taste.

                                        1. re: Becca Porter

                                          And if Pierre Herme likes it without eggs, how dare I, a mere mortal, like something different?

                                        2. re: dkennedy

                                          I can't actually say whether I prefer a "cleaner, lighter flavor." I've never made ice cream before that didn't start with a custard base. I feel compelled to try it, but I no longer have an ice cream machine, and I'm not likely to get one, as I've been rasslin' with being pre-diabetic.

                                          This is one of those areas, I am learning, where not everyone does something exactly the way I do.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            No, I totally get that ice cream preferences vary widely person to person. It just gets me riled up that so many people seem to form strong opinions about the cornstarch, cream cheese, milk reduction method without actually trying the ice cream!

                                            I have made ice cream regularly for about a decade now: custard based, Phili style, sorbet's, fro yos, and now these using Jeni's book... I, personally, found Jeni's to be heads and shoulders above all the others. It is so good that I find myself extremely passionate about it, and I just want everyone to try it. I am sorry if I come across any other way.

                                            1. re: Becca Porter

                                              I've known since I started cooking on my own that I dislike cornstarch in nearly everything, from Chinese velveting to blueberry pie. And the only place for cream cheese in my life is between a slice of smoked salmon and a bagel. So just knowing I'd have to use those things to make ice cream a la Jeni was enough to make me move on from her book.

                                              It's not like I don't already know how to make custard, and hey, there's always David Lebovitz.

                                              A friend and I bought a couple of pints of Jeni's ice cream last year sometime. One flavor was chocolate, the other, I don't remember. While I remember preferring the chocolate, I didn't find either flavor extraordinary in any way except for how much it cost.

                                              1. re: Becca Porter

                                                Have you ever tried the ATK version, which uses glucose (in the form of light corn syrup), to ensure a dense, rich, scoopable (even after being in the freezer for 4 days) and crystal-free consistency?

                                                Plus, they solidly pre-freeze a small amount of base, which they then melt into the not-quite-cold-enough liquid base, to rapidly bring down the temp to freezable temps. Ingenious.

                                                And yes, it uses eggs.

                                                Mr Taster

                            2. re: Becca Porter

                              I just got that book from my local library to see what it's like. There are a couple things about it that put me off more than a little. First, every recipe except for 2 or 3 (a couple sorbets and the Milk Chocolate ice cream) require a couple tb of cream cheese as an ingredient. We very rarely use that, and when a baking recipe requires it we use neufchatel instead. Don't know if neufchatel would give the same results in ice cream.

                              I also take issue with her method of pouring hot/boiling liquids into a plastic bag for chilling. I never put a hot liquid into any plastic! I am surprised that she doesn't even offer the sensible alternative (which would be to chill the hot mixture in the fridge instead of pouring it into plastic and then plopping said plastic into ice cubes... I can almost envision those plastic chemicals leaching out into the mixture as I type this, LOL) which might be less convenient or time saving but is certainly less toxic. Why not chill a stainless or even glass bowl while the mixture is on the stove, pour the boiled liquid into that, and then place in the fridge?

                              Basically this book establishes just one single basic recipe and method and then adds various ingredients to it as "tweaks". The only creative thing about it is some of the combinations which people might not have thought of. Well, that and the "unusual" use of plastic bags in the process. If you don't mind having cream cheese, cornstarch, and corn syrup in your ice cream, why not just borrow the book from your local library, copy the basic recipe and method, and invent your own ice cream flavors?

                              From the entire book, there were only 4 recipes that I will bother trying: the Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet (no cheese), the Milk Chocolate ice cream (no cheese), the Vanilla Bean ice cream, and the Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles. We'll use neufchatel in place of the cream cheese in the last two.

                              1. re: skyline

                                Here is her reasoning behind the cream cheese: "Many ice cream recipes call for egg yolks, which thicken cream by binding water when heated. However, milk naturally contains the essential proteins necessary to bind water and fat and add body to the ice cream, and these proteins do a better job than egg proteins do.....A small lump of cream cheese, which is high in casein proteins helps bind the ingredients and gives the ice cream body."

                                I love it, because I really dislike eggs in ice cream for several reasons. I admit I do skip the plastic bag. I just use a bowl, and whisk it occasionally during the ice bath.

                                I am curious why cream cheese is a problem when milk and cream are not? Have you tried/eaten one of the ice creams yet?

                                For what it's worth (though I do not have a problem with corn starch/corn syrup) she actually uses tapioca starch/tapioca syrup. She went with the other because it is easier to find. Jeni is big on quality local ingredients. She uses top quality stuff. These are not scary chemicals people. Perfectly normal ingredients.

                                1. re: Becca Porter

                                  Oh, I don't use eggs in frozen desserts either. I just think it's unusual, especially since people usually keep eggs on hand but might not do the same for cream cheese. IMHO the "light" cream cheeses are trash.. more chemicals than natural ingredients.. and so neufchatel seems to be a logical alternative, giving a slight reduction in fat without all the crap that is put into "light" cheeses.

                                  My main beef with this book, other than that it really is just a collection of variations on one single base, is that she doesn't even acknowledge that any "tweaks" are possible either to her methods or her ingredients, other than the nod to tapioca starch and syrup. Yes, one could argue that anyone who is concerned about fats should not even be picking up an ice-cream recipe book, LOL, but IMHO that doesn't mean the author shouldn't even mention lower-fat alternatives.

                                  Then again, it may be that I am just put off by books that tend to throw around current trendy catch-phrases like "artisanal". To me that's a yellow flag that suggests the author tends to have a fairly pretentious view of his/herself. I mean, come on: "Artisanal" ice creams? WTH is "artisanal" about using the same basic recipe and then just adding various combos of ingredients to it? That's "artisanal"? Really??
                                  IMHO it's just someone who has come up with a bunch of different variations on single theme.

                                  And btw, part of the official definition of "artisanal" is "made by hand" (i.e., "made by hand by a skilled craftsman"). Thus to be truly "artisanal", the ice creams in this book should be made in a hand-crank machine, not an electric one, LOL.

                                  Sorry, I tend to get snarky about people who throw pop-culture words and labels around willy-nilly. :-)

                                  1. re: skyline

                                    "Gourmet" was the "artisinal" of the 1980's and 90's.

                                    Mr Taster

                                  2. re: Becca Porter

                                    We've now tried 2 of the Jeni's recipes. The first was the Honeyed Peanut Butter w/Chocolate Freckles, substituting neufchatel cheese for the full fat cream cheese. Not crazy about the mouthfeel at all, and I swear that I could taste the tang of the cheese as an undertone -- which sounds impossible given the amount of the other ingredients as compared to the 2 tb of cheese in the recipe, but I definitely detected it. My other half also commented on the mouthfeel being unusual, saying it felt "almost weirdly slippery".

                                    We thought that perhaps the presence of the peanut butter was throwing our impressions off too much, so decided to make a batch of the vanilla bean, using Tonga beans which we have on hand rather than the Ugandan ones in her recipe. Neither of us were impressed by the vanilla either, and the mouthfeel was again just too slick for our liking.

                                    We also noticed that both ice creams ripened oddly in the freezer. After 4 hours they were both still too soft (not much firmer than soft-serve) but after 6 hours both became extremely hard. On the other hand, the recipes in the owners manual that came with our Cuisinart ICE20 keep a perfectly scoopable consistency throughout their freezer life and have a classic texture/mouthfeel.

                                    1. re: skyline

                                      Interesting. I am going to try my first Jeni recipe today. It does not call for cream cheese so it will be interesting to see if it makes any difference. I am glad to hear that the recipes included in the Cusinart manual are reliable.

                                  3. re: skyline

                                    @skyline: Ugh. Cream cheese and corn syrup, too?

                                    @Becca: Sour + guar gum = Gross me out the door. I don't even eat cheesecake.

                              2. re: skyline

                                Well I'm all about the quality of my food so it's no big deal.

                              3. re: rasputina

                                AMEN to the superiority of ice/brine-type freezers!

                                I have a 30 year old small Waring ice cream maker that operates on the same principle with a tray or so of ice cubes, regular table salt and the large open dasher that the frozen bowl thingies lack.

                                I buy every one that I can find on eBay for replacement parts but, in truth, the only part I've yet replaced is the plastic top of the canister.

                              4. I love my Cuisinart, a gift in the form of a hint ("Psssst -- learn to make ice cream") from my wife and child. Just made peach last week -- heavenly.

                                1. FWIW I couldn't pass up one of these similar little Cuisinarts when I found it in my local Costco for 30 bucks! This model actually says CIM-22RPC; the R I believe is for the red color of this one as it was different on the white, and it may well be a Costco-specifc model number, not sure. The main thing different from the ICE-21 seems to be the design of the on/off switch.

                                  At $30 this seemed to be a steal and I've enjoyed a couple batches. I started with the very simple vanilla recipe in the manual, which is if I remember right 2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup sugar and 1-2 teaspoons vanilla. Churns for about 20 minutes. I added in some Heath chips I found in the baking aisle. Pretty good (though for real Heath Bar effect should also have some chocolate). I found that after about 20 minutes it was starting to spill out over the edge and get onto the clear cover too much, so I stop there. It's a little soft-serve-like in consistency at that point. Not bad, but maybe not what you want. After a couple more hours in the freezer it starts to get similar consistency of a typical store-bought ice cream.

                                  One thing that I've found tricky around here is getting heavy cream that doesn't have carrageenan in it. If I wanted carrageenan I would just buy cheap ice cream at the store. ;-) Still, the first batch even with the carrageenan was not horrible. Second time I had made it to Whole Foods and found some unadulterated heavy cream from grass-fed cows. Erm, it wasn't that noticeable a difference, but I still feel better. ;-) I was able to find an unadulterated, organic half and half. Read a review I think on Amazon that said they just used that. It would be less cream than the original recipe, but I'm going to try it once next time and see. These already taste so good, I can't imagine using Jeni's tricks like cornstarch, cream cheese or whatever. They carry her pints in the store now at 10 bucks, and I remember in the Salty Caramel it has tapioca starch or something. Among whatever else. Ah, well. I'll get a cone of Jeni's when I go to Columbus. Otherwise I probably won't be buying those pints.

                                  There are just two of us in the house so having the one freeze bowl is enough, plus I don't think I would want two taking up my freezer space. So far, so good. Still has a Cuisinart 3-year warranty too. So the worst thing is having yet another gadget to take up kitchen space. ;-)

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: CrazyOne

                                    Same here: All brands of heavy cream list the usual suspects (mono- and diglycerides, polysorbate 80, and carrageenan). I often make the strawberry ice cream recipe that's in the Cuisinart "manual" and it has been just fine. Whole Foods is a half hours drive each way (assuming no traffic whatsoever, aka a minor miracle) and so between that and the budget, it's not a place we can afford (either time or $wise) to patronize on a regular basis, much as I'd like to. As for other natural alternatives there are only 2 Trader Joes within an 80 mile radius (one is right across the road from the Whole Foods, which is downright weird) but frankly I never liked that store. Not only because both are small -- at best perhaps 25% the size of Whole Foods which means a very limited selection -- and dumpy, but I simply don't trust "house brand" foods which can be wildly inconsistent in quality depending on the house's chosen supplier at any given time. I never could understand what so many people see in that store. Of course it could be that TJs are larger, better stocked, and more appealing in other parts of the USA, I suppose, though you'd think that a major metro suburban area such as ours would have the "better" stores rather than the other way around. Go figure.

                                    1. re: skyline

                                      OK, I am totally confused. My cream is by Strauss Family Farm - it lists no ingredients so I have to assume that the only ingredient is cream, right? Wouldn't they have to list it for it contained carrageenan etc? Even the milk I picked up, which was Alta Dena brand lists only milk and vitamin D3.

                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                        I would guess that somewhere on the package it would just say "Ingredients: Cream" then. The other stuff I mentioned is stabilizers and yes it would need to be on the ingredient list. AFAIK, the FDA requires all packaged products to list their ingredients, even if there is only one ingredient in it.

                                        1. re: skyline

                                          OK, I am going to go on their website and see if I am missing something.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            Looked at my bottle of cream in the light of day and could now see the list of ingredients listed as only containing pasteurized organic cream.

                                        2. re: dkennedy

                                          I'm sure it's easier to find non-adulterated cream in some parts of the country than others, or with certain store chains or just types of stores available in your area. It's just that mine here (Pittsburgh PA area) doesn't usually quite cut it. There's still one store I haven't checked that may have some. Otherwise only Whole Foods (and maybe Trader Joe's, just as inconvenient though for me) have something that works.

                                          Creams that do have something in it always do list the ingredients. FWIW, if the container is labeled Heavy Whipping Cream it's somewhat more likely to have added ingredients, but in our major local grocery chain they have store-branded containers labeled separately as Heavy Cream and one as Whipping Cream. But they both contain carrageenan!

                                          Milk, on the other hand, is still typically just milk. But watch out for wacko stuff in the skim or 1% levels; there's a new fad of making thing such as "skim milk that tastes like whole milk" which of course requires added ingredients. Ugh.

                                          BTW I tried my half and half experiment and I can tell the difference; the ice cream is not nearly as good. The flavor is still good, I suppose; it's just not as good a creamy texture and feel. I'm not especially surprised; obviously there is less cream and more milk this way. I guess I was just hoping I wouldn't notice which is apparently true of some other people. ;-) Sigh. So I'll eat this batch anyway, but gonna have to make a trip to WF to get some more cream. I just can't bear the idea of making ice cream at home with the carrageenan-laced cream. ;-)

                                        3. re: skyline


                                          TJs store brand is not analogous to your local supermarket brand, where price is considered more than quality and taste. TJs actually has tasting panels to determine what buys the make for their stores, and they stand begin their products in that yet will 1. Let you taste virtually anything before buying and 2. Allow you return anything for any reason.

                                          Seriously, it's a no-risk endeavor that encourages exploration and experimentation. What's not to like?

                                          Mr Taster