As every good cook knows, the right tools can be the difference between a so-so dish, and a “This is the most amazing thing I ever eaten!”
Ok, maybe that’s a little exaggeration, but just a little. I’m not going to give you the secret to the most amazing thing anyone’s ever eaten, but I can give you some advice on the right tools. Or in this case: tool. Here are four tips to help you determine which ice cream maker is right for you.
How many people will you be feeding?
We all know, everyone screams for ice cream, but how many people are screaming? The capacity of different makers can range from several quarts to gallons, so make sure to figure out how much ice cream you will need before you decide to buy. Also, be aware that some ice cream makers can’t handle consecutive batches. This can make it tough when the kids have scarfed up the last of the batch and keep crying for more.
How much time do you have to prepare?
As much as I, or anyone, would like to believe that there is an ice cream fairy blessing us all with frozen desserts anytime we please, ice cream takes time. Most ice cream makers can produce ice cream in 15 minutes to a half hour, but some have canisters that must be pre-frozen for up to 24 hours. Also, you’ll need to take into account that many ice cream makers will only make soft serve. You’ll have to freeze the ice cream further to get a hard consistency.
What are you making?
Before you buy, it’s important to realize that not all makers are created equal. Are you just going for ice cream? Great. But if you’d like your menu to include frozen yogurt, gelato, or sorbet, look carefully. Most makers are able to accommodate other frozen desserts, but don’t assume they will. When in doubt, check the directions before you buy, or check online to find reviews of the maker you’re thinking of.
What’s your budget?
Prices can range from a comfortable $40 to upwards of $200. That’s right, $200 dollars for a home ice cream maker. The less expensive models can have a canister that must be pre-chilled in your freezer, or they may require a salt and ice mixture to be added to the machine. Volume and speed can factor into the price of an ice cream maker, but the most expensive makers are the self-cooling models. These require little to no preparation, but are larger and often cannot be moved with ease. For some people, the higher priced makers are worth the cost, just make sure you don’t shell out next month’s rent unless you know that the more expensive model is the right one for you.