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Milly's 101: Ice Cream Machines

Milly's 101: Ice Cream Machines

There are two types of ice cream machine on the market today (unless you can find an old crank handled model that you fill with ice and churn manually – which would be a good way to ‘earn’ calories to swap for ice cream!).

The first features a liquid (essentially anti-freeze) filled bowl that needs to be frozen down 12 or so hours in advance before placing it into the churn, swtiching on and adding your ice cream mixture. These are comparatively inexpensive machines, they work really well for a single batch of ice cream and they are simple to operate. The only disadvantage is that you will need to remember to freeze your bowl in advance of your ice cream session (or you could keep it there at the ready all the time) and you will generally only be able to churn one batch before the container needs refreezing. These are really good starter models if you want to give home made ice cream a try before committing to a compressor model.

If you decide that ice cream really is your passion and you want (or need!) to make batch after batch, then consider a compressor version. These feature an actual compressor so your ice cream maker is effectively a freezer unit. You just turn it on, wait until the chamber has cooled right down (on my Magimix Professional that’s about 10 mins) and tip in your mixture and the machine takes care of the rest. These machines definitely have a larger footprint and a higher price tag but to the true ice cream devotee, they are an investment to consider.

Also available to those who have a KitchenAid stand mixer is their ice cream bowl attachment which is a freezable bowl that fits only your machine.  They work on the same principle as the ‘bowl in the freezer’ model above and don’t take as much storage space.

Here are a few things we’ve learned along the ‘ice cream’ way:
1. Ice cream needs fat and/or sugar to make it scoopable. If you’re trying to make a frozen yoghurt you will need to add a little fat in the way of cream or coconut cream to your yoghurt otherwise it will freeze too hard to roll and scoop. Likewise, sorbet needs sugar to stop it from freezing like ice.
2. Especially when using a ‘bowl in the freezer’ model, try to make sure your mixture is as chilled as possible before you tip it into your machine. Warm mixture will just make it do too much work – especially in the middle of summer.
3. We have found that making your ice cream base mixture the day before you want to churn improves both the flavour and texture of the finished ice cream. This is particularly relevant for Crème Anglaise or custard based ice cream.
4. Don’t expect your ice cream to be totally hard upon finishing churning. It will be more like a heavy snow freeze – which is good as it allows you just enough wriggle room to be able to decant it into a freezer safe container. Leave the ice cream in the freezer for a few hours to firm up completely – or scoop directly from the machine for a slightly more ‘melty’ version (which is also delicious).
5. Make sure you cover your freezer container tightly – ice cream easily picks up ‘off’ of strong flavours from other things stored around it.
6. Bring the frozen ice cream out and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes before you want to serve it to make scooping easier and the flavour to develop further.
7. Try to keep home made ice cream for no longer than a week – it’s not hard!!

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