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Jun 7, 2012 12:48 PM

Problems with ice cream maker -- Cuisinart Ice-20

I have this ice cream maker:

This is an older ice cream maker, it used to belong to my parents but they weren't using it so they sent it to me a few years ago. I have had trouble using it myself and am considering dumping it and getting a new one, but wondering if anyone can shed any light onto this problem.

My "ice cream" sticks to the side of the canister as soon as I pour it in. As far as I know, I have been doing everything "correctly":

-Freeze the canister for at least 24 hours, so it is frozen solid
-Chill my ice cream base at least overnight, so it is cold when it goes into the canister
-Place the canister on the base unit, place the churning arm inside the canister, place the plastic splatter guard on top, turn the unit on, then pour the liquid ice cream base in while the machine is running

Everything I can find suggests "make sure your base is chilled" or "turn the unit on before pouring the base in" but I do all of that. I have tried pouring the base in slowly, and pouring it all in all at once. I have even tried pouring it in with the unit off and the arm out, then putting the arm in and turning the unit on, just to try something different.

Every time I try to make ice cream, half of my ice cream base freezes into a thick, solid mass to the sides and bottom of the canister, while the other half of the ice cream base remains a soupy liquid in the center. The churning arm cannot scrape the sides of the canister because half of the ice cream base has solidified to it, freezing the arm in place. I doesn't matter how or when I add the ice cream base, the results are always the same. I have also tried multiple different recipes to see if it could be an ingredient issue, but still get the same results.

Anyone have any suggestions for how I can actually make ice cream with this thing before I toss it and invest in a new one?

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  1. I had the same problem with mine. I use a spatula to help "move things along" and only let it churn for about 20-25 minutes or until it has the consistency of soft serve. After that I tranfer it to a frozen baking dish or pan, cover with saran wrap and place it in the freezer for a few hours.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sydneyeats

      Perhaps you put your mixing arm in upside down? I freeze my containers at 48 hours before making ice cream. Here is an online copy of the manual in case you don't have one.

      1. re: sharhamm

        Thanks for the suggestions. I do have the manual and double checked it after today's attempt to make sure I was doing everything as instructed. I had the arm in as shown in the diagram in the manual.

    2. Hm, I have the same machine and haven't had this problem but it sounds like you're doing everything correctly. The only things I can think of are that maybe the canister is too cold? I really can't imagine that being the case but I also can't imagine why/how your ice cream base would freeze solid when you put it in the canister. Maybe you should try not freezing the canister as long, just to see what happens.

      The other thing I'm wondering about is your ice cream base. I know you said you tried different recipes, but I'm still curious about what you use for it. Could you list your basic ingredients?

      3 Replies
      1. re: bluex

        I thought about not freezing it as long, as well. Just not sure how long to freeze it so that it's frozen enough but not "too" frozen.

        One recipe that I have made multiple times, that has worked a few times but has not worked recently, is:

        1/2 cup milk
        1/2 cup sugar
        3 teaspoons instant pudding mix
        1/4 teaspoon salt
        1/2 cup half-and-half
        1 1/2 cups whipping cream
        1 tsp extract of choice

        Heat the milk in the microwave until hot, then add sugar and pudding mix and stir to dissolve. Then add other ingredients and chill overnight. As I said, I have made this one successfully (or at least semi-successfully, I remember at least a couple of times where parts of it would be more frozen than others but I was at least able to scrape most of it together into a separate container and freeze it and it turned out okay) but recently it has not turned out.

        Today, the recipe I tried was 1 can coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Supposedly a dairy-free ice cream. I also had a note for myself on the machine, "Do not add ice cream base slowly, add all at once" so I thought that was the problem I was having in the past, was adding it too slowly and part of it freezing before the rest could get into the canister. So today I added everything all at once and got the same results.

        I know I have made other recipes with it too, I just can't remember right off-hand what they were or how they turned out since I have not used the machine a lot in the last year or so since I started having problems with it. Maybe the canister is just old and not working properly anymore? It is quite old and had a lot of use before I got it. I did ask my parents for advice since they had it before me but they weren't sure what the problem would be either.

        1. re: Maggiethecat

          Yeah, sounds like maybe the canister is too old to work properly. I'm sure there's something special in there to make it work that could lose effectiveness over time.

          I'd try freezing the canister for only 10 hours or so and see if that makes a difference. The worst that could happen is that the ice cream won't freeze at all and then you can just pour it back into its container and try it again after you've frozen the canister for a longer time.

          That is an unusual ice cream recipe (to me)! I go with a basic egg yolk/sugar/cream/milk mix.

          1. re: bluex

            Yeah, I have seen (and made) the egg-based custard bases before, and they are very good...the one I posted above is just a lot simpler/faster (no tempering the eggs, etc) and it's not quite as rich as an egg-based custard. When made properly, it turns out really good! I may try freezing the canister just overnight (as in, putting it in before bed and then making ice cream in the morning with it) and see how it works, but my husband said he would get me a new machine if we can't get this one working.

      2. There is no way to avoid having this happen. The bowl is significantly colder than the ice mix you pour in. A thin layer of mix will freeze solid as soon as it makes contact with the bowl.

        The best example elswehere in life I can think of is a Zamboni at an ice rink. A very thin layer of water freezes instantly when it makes contact with a surface significantly colder than itself.

        The dasher scrapes the side of the bowl to constantly peel away this layer and feed it back into the churning mix.

        If after 30 minutes you still have soup, either the bowl is coming unfrozen or the ratios in your recipe are bad.

        But there is nothing wrong with your ice cream maker.

        2 Replies
        1. re: NotJuliaChild

          There is not a "thin layer" of mix freezing to the bowl, it is a thick layer. Probably close to 2 inches thick. The arm/dasher cannot scrape the side of the bowl because it freezes solid to the side of the bowl into the frozen mixture. After 25 minutes of mixing yesterday, the dasher was still frozen to the side of the bowl with a 2 inch layer of solid frozen mix, and the rest soup. I'm sorry, but this is not how this ice cream maker is supposed to work.

          1. re: Maggiethecat

            A thin layer is normal--a 2-inch thick one is not. I have two canister types: Cuisinart ICE-20 like you and a Girmi Gran Gelato. Neither one has ever given me anything more that the standard thin layer. If the canister is not well frozen, I get a soupy mess. But I've sad the canisters in the freezer for a week at a time before churning and I never experienced your problem. How quickly does this mass freeze? I find that I routinely get good quality ice cream after 15-20 minutes, less time than is recommended by most recipes.

        2. Are you making ice milk, or ice cream? Ice milk without the fat freezes too quickly. Are you also using real sugar or sugar substitute? That can also affect how fast it freezes. Artificial sweeteners don't always freeze right. Try a recipe with some rum or other alcohol in it. That also slows down the freezing. Also try calling Cuisinart for advice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: blondelle

            Have you contacted Cuisinart customer service? Perhaps they can be of help, especially since the machine you have is still being sold.

          2. This just happened to me with the same machine. The bowl was too cold. I let the bowl sit out and warm up a bit, then poured the mixture back in and it worked fine. Very helpful thread!