Ice cream machines
Are ice cream machines a worthwhile purchase? Opinions!
I've been using my ice cream machine regularly for over 20 years. It's electric, but you have to put ice and salt in. I've considered getting a newer one, but hate to give up the freezer space to keep one of the inserts frozen.
These days, we use the machine mostly for frozen yogurt, but homemade banana ice cream is probably the best thing that comes out of it.
The bowl machines aren't great because you have to keep the bowl in the freezer at all times. Plus they don't really get cold enough so you'll notice a difference in the quality of ice cream you make vs. what you can get in the store (homemade will be icier).
I'd say only buy an ice cream maker if you don't mind spending a lot of money on something you will hardly ever use. Delonghi makes an ice cream/gelato maker which I've heard is good. I bought one by Lello (4090) which is okay but I personally would not buy again (I don't think it is well-made). If I had to do it over again I would get the Musso Lussino 4080 which I think is the best consumer machine on the market.
I gave mine away after a summer or two of frustration.
I thought I would enjoy making homemade ice cream but I didn't. In the end it was too much of a time commitment.
I had a Cuisinart, can't remember which model.
What I didn't know prior to purchasing it -
That the bowl takes up so much room in the freezer and it must be stored in the freezer for a long time prior to using it, you can't just pop it in Saturday morning to make ice cream Saturday afternoon.
The recipes I liked called for cooking the base ahead of time and chilling in the fridge. I simply wasn't good at planning in advance.
The machine produced ice cream the consistancy of soft serve. My family likes hard ice cream. Again, putting the batch in the freezer to set-up was another step and additional waiting time.
None of the above were huge deals on their own but added together, I realized I am too lazy to put that much work into homemade ice cream. Also, with a child bouncing around, rioting for ice cream, the Friday night to Saturday night process wasn't fun for either of us. There are machines out there that produce a much faster batch but I didnt' want to shell out that much cash or storage space.
I may pick up one of those old style ice/rock salt machines for occasional summer use.
I bought a Cuisinart and we use it a lot. I got it mainly because I have a child with food allergies, and commercial ice cream has cross contamination issues. I bought an extra freezer bowl as well, and I have no problem fitting them in my freezer. We mix up the batter, stick it in fridge for a few hours or freezer for 1/2 hour, and it then takes 15-20 min in the machine. It is softer than store bought, but you can put in the freezer to harden. It then gets super-hard, although if you add some alcohol to the recipe it won't freeze solid (we don't, so we nuke it for a bit to soften). It is not instant ice cream, takes a little planning, but it is so good & you know exactly what is in it.
I have the basic "bowl in the freezer" model Cuisinart. I Iike it. I just throw the basic recipe in the blender, chill it, pour it into the machine the next day, and twenty minutes later, voila, ice cream. I like it that I know exactly what went into it. It is a softer ice cream, but I find that when I put the rest into a carton to freeze, the next day the texture is quite good. I make a basic vanilla with a couple of egg yolks, and I honestly prefer it to fancy store bought, especially with a little salted caramel sauce! BTW my basic recipe is a cup of milk, two cups of cream, a good splash of Mexican vanilla, a pinch of salt, and two jumbo egg yolks with between half and three quarters of a cup of sugar.