Choosing An Ice Cream Maker

No store-bought ice cream can compare with the homemade variety. In order to get that full, creamy flavor, you'll have to dig in your heels and make it yourself. Lucky for us ice cream aficionados, good quality ice cream makers abound and it's easy to find the right one to serve the needs of your family.

General Quantity

The first thing to do is to figure out the general quantity of ice cream you'll want to make at any one time. If your family is large, you'll want a machine that can make at least one and a half quarts to two quarts at a time. If you buy a small-capacity appliance, you'll be left with nagging, whiny family members whose ice cream lust has gone unslaked because of poor planning.

Next you'll want to figure out how much labor you'll be willing to put into your ice cream-making venture. You can still purchase the old-fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers. Some say that the new-fangled machines can't recreate the taste of the hand-cranked treat. But it really takes a lot of very intense manual labor. The nostalgia and slight difference in quality may not make it worthwhile to invest in a hand-crank machine.

The electric models are the easiest of all ice cream machines in terms of operation, but because it takes a long time to churn ice cream, there's a heavy load on the motor and the machines have a tendency to burn out quite fast. Use the internet to compare brands, makes, and models. Get some idea of what specific model can do and what is beyond its abilities.

Seasonal Item

Once you know what you want, check out several retailers and find out which one offers the model you want at the best price. You can do this by internet or on the phone. Keep in mind that this is a seasonal item. If you walk into a store during the off-season, you probably won't find the item on display.

Once you know where and what, go to the store and ask to see the item in question. Look for the hallmarks of a well-made ice cream maker. It should have a strong mixing blade that can withstand heavy use. Look at the freezer bowl to make sure it has no dings or dents. If the retailer allows, plug in the machine to check that the motor works. Look at the date of manufacture—it should be fairly recent.

At last it's time to bring your baby home. Enjoy your ice cream machine and don't just use it for ice cream. Most models can also make decorative frozen centerpieces, frozen drinks, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. Keep in mind that with the non-electric ice cream machines that come with a metal bowl that is first left to freeze overnight, you can't make another batch of ice cream right after the first. You'll need to thaw the insert, wash and dry it well, and freeze it overnight between each batch.