Who doesn’t enjoy ice cream? The frozen treat – which spread to Europe in the 1500s – is almost universally beloved. Walk into any supermarket today and behold the vast selection, beckoning you with an array of tempting flavours.
“Hmm,” you think as you pick up a tub. “This one looks good – but what’s this ingredient? And this one – and that, which I can’t even pronounce! And they’re selling the better brand for how much more?”
Granted, the cost of ice cream varies – it can be affordable – but it takes a princely sum to acquire just a small amount of the stuff if you want only the basic ingredients – cream, eggs, sugar, salt, natural flavours – and none of the artificial preservatives and colours, phony flavouring and thickening agents which ensure that much of what you’re paying for is air.
What’s the solution to this conundrum? Enter the ice cream maker – this marvellous appliance allows you to make delicious ice cream at home, without all the additives, and at a lower cost.
How Ice Cream Makers Work
Before running out to buy an ice cream maker, you need to know that they come in two flavours (no pun intended) – the more economical type, which includes a freezer bowl, and the costlier sort, which feature an integrated freezer. Either one does the job – it comes down to how long you’re willing to wait and how much you wish to spend.
A “freezer bowl” is simply an insulated bowl designed to retain cold temperatures. To prepare the bowl, place it in your freezer for the time specified by the manufacturer – anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. When it’s time to make the ice cream, remove the bowl from the freezer, place it in the machine and add the ingredients, which will be kept cold enough to freeze while they’re churned together.
This type of ice cream maker is, by virtue of its simplicity, more economical. There’s nothing wrong with how it works – the only caveats are that you have to wait up to a full day before preparing your ice cream, and you need a freezer with sufficient capacity to hold the bowl – so check the dimensions ahead of time! Also, note that bowl size alone isn’t indicative of the machine’s capacity, since the mixing paddle takes up space.
Other ice cream makers are self-contained devices (though some feature bowls which can be removed for easy cleaning) – the freezing unit is integrated, powered by mains electrical voltage, and freezes the ingredients while the paddle churns them. The primary advantage is obvious – no waiting for the bowl to get cold, and you can make several batches of ice cream in a day.
The downsides are increased cost – as much as £200 to £350 – and higher electricity consumption (on par with powering a bright light for 60 minutes).
Does Size Matter?
Something to bear in mind is that ice cream makers vary greatly in dimension from one model to the next – the smallest taking up about as much space as a kettle, while most use bowls whose diameter averages that of a large dinner plate.
If you opt for a model with an integrated freezer, be aware that this convenient inclusion can also add a significant amount of size and weight, and usually renders the ice cream maker square-shaped and slightly challenging to move. Be sure you can allot a sufficient portion of counter space for such a large appliance.
Bells and Whistles
At their most basic, ice cream makers are controlled by a simple on-off switch. More advanced models may feature timers and automatic stay-cool functions which keep the delectable treat chilled for a short time after churning – convenient if you won’t be immediately on hand to transfer the finished product to the freezer.
At the highest end of the scale – £350 territory – you can expect auto-sensing capability that keeps the ice cream at your preferred hardness level for up to three hours, as well as manual controls and musical timers.
Care for a Little Something on the Side?
Many people would consider ice cream the crowning glory of frozen dessert – but if you’re inclined to explore other sub-zero savouries, a number of machines can also produce frozen yoghurt, sorbet and gelato – perfect if you’re the adventurous type, and it isn’t necessary to purchase the fanciest of machines, either – it really comes down to using different ingredients.
What’s The Best Ice Cream Maker To Buy
Though we may not associate the frozen dessert with winter, around Christmas is a good time to purchase an ice cream maker – and of course, during summer, ice cream being for most of us a highly seasonal food to enjoy during the hottest months of the year.
Regular grocery stores may not offer the best or highest quality selection of machines – you’d be better off looking for one online. Online shopping trumps both other options – prices are usually lower, the selection is vast, details can be compared and user reviews can help guide your choices better (and perhaps more honestly) than the thoughts of a lone sales associate.
We highly rate the Andrew James Ice Cream. It was a recent winner of The Independent Newspaper and Daily Mirror top ice cream maker list, and receives positive customer feedback ratings on Amazon.co.uk. Click the button below to read our own review and for more details about this highly reputable machine.