Top positive review
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Awesome Ice Cream Maker, Fantastic Value
on May 14, 2010
1st, a great value. If you get cream at a bulk store, 6 bucks for a 50 pound sack of rock salt, ice from your freezer, and a few pennies for the other ingredients (sugar and vanilla), you're looking at a gallon of high quality ice cream for 5 bucks or less. Figure you're saving 5-7 bucks a use. That means this unit pays for itself if you use if 6 times, maybe 10-20 times if you're spending a lot on added ingredients.
2nd. Simple to use. Really well designed. Can't for the life of me understand people sticking plastic orange juice container parts to "fix" it. If it doesn't work, bring it back! Otherwise, top only goes on one way, and there's a locking feature that means that the unit must be properly assembled to fit correctly.
3rd. For people saying "it uses a lot of ice, and I had to run to the store . . . " my lord people, are we that helpless? You own a freezer, right? Make your own ice. All it takes is just a bit of planning. Just a bit people, not invading-Soviet Russia level planning. If you have an auto ice maker on your freezer, just empty it into a very large zip lock 2 or 3 times and you're good to go.
4th. The unit stops spinning when the ice cream reaches a given viscosity. I've made several batches of several different types and the only time the ice cream was "runny" was when I didn't break up the cookies and they clogged the mixer holes and caused the unit to stop prematurely - my fault. The other batches all came out about the same - like a very thick yogurt consistency. Into the freezer, and a day later it's getting there and 2 days later it's the same consistency as store bought. If you're getting runny ice cream, you're doing something wrong. BTW - if you use more crushed ice and/or salt, the mixture gets colder quicker, and you'll get more-crystally ice cream. If you use regular ice and/or less salt, the mixing takes longer and you get a creamier texture - adjust to desired consistency!
5th. As for using Ben and Jerry's recipes, be aware that this can affect the mixer. Maybe BandJ's recipes require a higher torque motor. We have made several types of ice cream from the instructions that came with the mixer, and they all work great. If you load the ice cream with pretzels and what not, this might not be a powerful enough mixer.
Great unit. Highly recommended.
EDIT - It's now late July and I've used this mixer one or two times a week since we bought it in March, which means we've done about 30 batches (lots of kids and friends and such). Still on the same 8 dollar bag of rock salt. Have made a dozen or so of the recipes that came with the book. Love it, recommend it even more than I did a few months ago.
2nd Update - It's now November, 2012, and the mixer motor is still going strong. Alas! The plastic bucket has a crack in it because a very zealous ice cream making person pounded on it to try to get some sticking salt/rock out after a run (argghh!). The new unit has just arrived. No issue whatsoever with the unit - it made a fantastic batch of vanilla with chocolate chips and walnuts right before its bucket was injured. I suppose I could have attempted to seal the crack, but at this price, I just decided to get a new one and use the old motor as a back up.
Regarding some of the negative comments, it's very clear that some folks have unrealistic expectations from this machine. "It's made out of plastic, so it's cheap." The space station has a lot of plastic on it, as do Mercedes cars. "It's too big." Really? The volume of ice cream produced was not concealed! "It never froze the mixture." You're either not using the enough salt rock and ice, or you're putting warm ingredients in - everything must be very cold prior to putting them into the mixer (cream, milk and egg mixture, and so on). "The paddle wasn't stirring because it has to be firmly pushed into the motor." True. The paddle does not stir using magic - it must be affixed to the motor. "Ice cream was not completely frozen." Correct - it's a slurry to somewhat solid when it's done. Mix a bit by hand, then put in freezer until solid! "It doesn't make Ben and Jerry's flavors." Too much stuff in the mix will hinder the mixer - go buy Ben and Jerry's. This machine works well, but it's not an industrial ice-cream maker, nor is it intended to be. Used properly, it will provide you with gallons of home made ice cream with the ingredients you choose and without chemical preservatives! Great deal.