on January 30, 2011
I had been using a Donvier hand crank machine to make a fat-free ice milk recipe once a week for the last year, and I was perfectly happy with it, but it didn't make enough to last through the entire week, so I decided to spring for a 2 quart electric model. After some serious research, I gave this a try.
If you've ever made a lowfat recipe, you know that homemade ice milk turns into a brick when fully frozen, and the best you can hope for is to scrape off a spoonful at a time. (Or, defrost it for a couple minutes in the microwave, so you can get a spoon into it.) Very tedious. The continual turning action on this machine makes a much lighter, more aerated version of the ice milk, so it CAN be spooned out after being completely frozen! Awesome!
The canister is about the size of a half-gallon carton of ice cream, so you need enough space in your freezer to store it, but the result is worth the effort. It's a bit noisy, but not more so than any other machine.
If you've had trouble getting the machine to freeze for you:
1. Make sure your freezer canister is completely frozen. Buy a freezer thermometer, lower the freezer temp if necessary, (should be at, or preferably below, 32°F, 0°C), and keep in mind that opening the door frequently raises the temperature dramatically. Storing it in the back helps. Making the ice cream in the morning after leaving the freezer closed all night also helps.
2. Make sure your ingredients are thoroughly chilled. (Not warm. Not room temperature.)
3. To speed up the freezing process, (which would normally take about 35-40 minutes for a full 2 quarts), I covered the open hole at the top with a flat silicone trivet, to keep the temperature stable inside the machine. (Worked like a charm - only took about 25 minutes to reach soft-serve consistency.)
4. If you want firmer ice cream, STOP the machine after you reach soft-serve consistency, take the paddle out, quickly scrape the sides, cover the top, and let the ice cream sit undisturbed in the canister for another 10-15 minutes or so. Rotation slows down the freezing process, but makes the ice cream lighter and fluffier. The ice cream directly in contact with the canister will get really hard, and you might need to scrape it off into the center area once or twice during the hardening-off process. Use a stiff silicone spatula or spoon to scrape down the sides. (This is normal for canister style ice cream machines.)
5. If you can't get the ice cream to reach soft-serve consistency, which can happen if your canister wasn't frozen enough to begin with, try turning off the machine for 1 minute intervals every 5 minutes or so, AFTER the first 20 minutes of processing. It gives the ingredients more contact time with the frozen canister sides, and speeds up the freezing process. But you need to give the machine time to partially freeze the slurry first, or you might freeze the paddle into place.
You can also scoop the soft ice cream into your freezer storage containers and let it finish freezing in your main freezer. If you use small containers, (1 cup), that will take an hour or so. Large containers can take several hours to fully freeze, depending on how cold your freezer is. (Which makes freezing your ice cream in the morning very practical.) Again, this is normal for canister type machines, you just need to know what to expect.
5. A full recipe takes longer to freeze than a half recipe. If you need it quicker, or want it firmer, you can try removing about a fourth of the liquid before starting. It keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. (Or just reduce the recipe.)
6. Use a recipe you are comfortable with. I just about choked when I saw a couple of recipes in the Cuisinart cookbook that called for over a full Tablespoon of vanilla! That's ridiculous and has to be an editing problem. (Vanilla is made with alcohol, and alcohol doesn't freeze.) I find that 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla is plenty, but never more than 2 teaspoons of extracts, total. (By the way, flavor oils make a great addition to your recipes. "Loranne Oils" or "Superior Products Oils" are fabulous, and really add depth. Use sparingly though, just add a drop or two of the concentrated Loranne oils or you'll mess up your ice cream. Try the Loranne Eggnog oil. Yuuuummmy!)
7. Don't put more than roughly 7 cups of liquid ingredients into this machine, or they will expand right out of the top of the machine as they start to freeze! Whoops! This was very amusing, but due to the design, I was able to just scoop the soft ice milk out of the center hole as it expanded and pack it into the freezer containers. I like the open hole design, it makes for easy addition of fruits/nuts/coconut at the end. And the fact that the canister rotates, and not the center paddle, makes it easy to carefully scoop a bit out if necessary, without stopping the machine.
8. Either store the canister inside a large double bread bag in the freezer, with a twist tie and a bit of bag at the top to use as a handle, or take a pair of potholders or rubber gloves with you when you go to remove it from the freezer. It gets VERY cold. And touching directly with warm hands will lower the temp of the canister, if you don't drop it.
9. Always make sure the canister is completely dry before storing in the freezer.
Finally, here's a healthy-ish ice cream base recipe to use in it:
Ice Cream Base (2 quarts)
8 generous 1 cup servings
6 cups Lactaid reduced fat milk w/extra calcium. (Ain't cheap, but you get the eXtra calcium. You can substitute whole milk or half & half for richer ice cream.)
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups "WheyLow" for ice cream. (Lower glycemic index sugar. 1/4 the calories of regular sugar. [...] ) Or use sugar.
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
2 small pinches of salt.
Mix everything vigorously with a wire whisk in a large Pyrex measuring cup or bowl until the sugar dissolves completely. Use this as the basis for all ice creams, varying by the addition of pureed fruits in season, coconut flakes, or nuts. If you use flavor oils, add a few drops to the mixture above, if you add nuts and fruits, put those in through the opening during the freezing process, in the last five minutes. (Fresh strawberries or peaches macerated with a bit of sugar is a spectacular add-in.) If you want to use cocoa to make chocolate ice cream, use about 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa, dissolved first in 2 TBS hot water, and then stirred into the liquid mixture before freezing. Add chips, crushed cookies or flake chocolate at the end. (Liquids go into the mixture before freezing, solids go in at the end.)
It's pretty hard to mess this one up. Since there are no eggs in the mix, you can taste it to see if you like it, before freezing. Just keep in mind, the flavors and sweetness will intensify after freezing. Start sparingly and add more to the next batch if it needs it.
Give it a try, and don't be afraid to experiment.
Okay, that's enough. Hope it helps. This machine is an excellent value.
Okay it's three years later and this thing is still going strong....approx 50 batches a year/3 years = Over 150 batches. This was definitely one of my better buys. :)