Comparing Ice Cream Makers; Crank, Electric, and Freezer Models
An early ice cream maker
The first ice cream maker I can remember was a six-quart White Mountain. Of course, since we did not have utilities on the farm it was a hand-crank. We thought it made the very best ice cream in the whole world. We ate ice cream made by neighbors, friends, and relatives. None of those desserts were nearly as good as ours. I must say that my mother's recipes did contribute to the excellence of the dessert but, in this hub, we are discussing the makers themselves.
When using a crank freezer, quite a bit of ice was needed, especially in the summer because of melting. We bought blocks of ice in the summer but, during the cold winters, we removed ice from a frozen pond. The blocks were not crushed but pieces were chipped off by using an ice pick. The ice needs to be very cold for the cream to freeze well. Of course, the cream had to be cold too.
We used what was called rock salt ... more like small pebbles rather than grains like table salt. The salt water would come out of the small hole seen in the sketch. We always had the freezer in a pan to catch the water. Even then there was a concern about how to dispose of it properly ... we usually poured it into the dirt of our driveway.
When the cream was frozen so hard that even a strong man or woman could no longer turn the crank, we removed the crank and mechanical unit from the top, and then took out the paddle. We then stuck a plug in the lid opening, covered the top of the can with a waterproof item, poured more salt and ice on top of that, and then placed an old blanket over all of that. That was called packing it down. We thought the ice cream was better if it 'rested' after the packing down process.
The White Mountain freezer we used had staves made of wood. Later, some units were made of fiberglass instead of wood but many users thought the cream didn't freeze as hard.
This type of freezer is much like the one described above but requires electricity to power it ... no hand cranking even to finish. Some feel that the ice cream isn't frozen as hard even when packed down with lots of ice, salt, and blanket. Disposing of the salt water is also an issue as with the crank freezer..
Ice cream maker -- used in the freezer
These makers work well. We have one and use it fairly often. It came with a recipe book but I usually use my 'cooked' custard-base recipe that I've always made for the hand crank unit. To me, this recipe makes the best ice cream ever and, although some makers' instruction booklets express an opinion that it doesn't freeze as well, we've not had a problem with it..
This maker is quart-sized which is enough for a small group. I understand that the cream freezes better when the can is put in a deep freezer, rather than in a unit within the refrigerator. We have a deep freeze so have no first-hand experience with that issue. You do have to either store the cooling unit (can) in the freezer or, at least, have it in early enough.
Freezing time is approximately 20 minutes, depending on the type of mixture. Some crank stirring is required bit this is not difficult and it is sporadic. In addition to a variety of ice creams and sherberts, this unit makes frozen alcoholic beverages. We've not made them but friends tell me they are quite easy to make and delicious.
What the company calls a Chillfast aluminum cylinder and I probably call the can or bucket, has very specific cleaning and handling instructions. The cleanup is pretty easy, however, and there is no saltwater to dispose of.
Stand mixer attachments
People tell me that they love ice cream made this way. My KitchenAid 5-A was purchased in the 1970s but, apparently, the ice cream attachment will work with most mixers. I'm not sure if it would work on mine but would prefer to use one before even considering purchasing.
An advantage is that this maker does not require salt or ice. I understand it is easy to use and freezes quicker if the bowl is put in the freezer overnight, 15 or more hours. The ice cream mixture should also be cold; 8 hours in the refrigerator is recommended. It takes approximately 25 minutes for ice cream but less time for sorbets and other desserts of this type. Cleanup sounds easy and parts can be stored in the bowl. I keep my KitchenAid stand mixer in a corner on my counter so it is easily accessible.
There are pros and cons to all of the methods I've listed. Dealing with the cranking and disposing of the ice and salt of the of the hand crank maker is certainly a con but does that outweigh the excellence of the result? If it isn't all eaten, storing the rest in the freezer doesn't really diminish the texture and consistency. If care is taken to pack the freezer well with ice and salt, when using the electric unit, the resulting dessert should be similar to the hand crank.
Makers, like the Donvier and those similar, and the stand mixer attachment should produce similar ice creams. The mixer attachment, however, probably produces a smoother texture because of the beating method used. These two methods are probably the most practical for today's families.
But, just remember ... it's all about the mixture you freeze!!!