June 9, 2010
I’ve been thinking of buying an ice cream machine for a long time. Ice cream is one of those things that is easy to make, delicious, and impressive - very appealing. Sorbet is even easier (you can use something as simple as fruit juice as a base), and this machine will do that too.
So when I saw that this very well-reviewed Cuisinart ice cream machine was only $40 on Amazon, it seemed like a good idea to pick it up.
As I mentioned above, ice cream is actually fairly easy to make. I started by making strawberry ice cream, for which the ingredients are milk, cream, some sugar and strawberries - that’s it! The only even remotely difficult step is slicing the strawberries, then leaving them to sit, covered with sugar, for a couple of hours (maceration).
The sugar causes the strawberries to release strawberry juice, which is then added to the mixture of cream and milk. The strawberries themselves are added at the last minute.
I then made this lime-basil sorbet. As I mentioned above, sorbet is even easier than ice cream; you can just use fruit juice as a base. In this case, I made a simple syrup with lime juice, and then added minced basil leaves.
The result was very tasty, but the recipe calls for the basil leaves to be left in, which results in a strange texture. When I realized this, I simply melted down the sorbet, strained out the leaves, and re-froze. Again, easy, though you would not be able to melt down and re-freeze the ice cream since freezing changes the composition of heavy cream.
How does this ice cream machine work?
The mix is poured into a drum (see the second picture, which is a view through the lid, into the drum).
A stationary arm is placed inside. When the machine is turned on, the drum rotates, and the arm stays still, adding air to the liquid.
This normally wouldn’t do anything, except that the drum has walls inside which a liquid is permanently sealed. The night before you make ice cream, you store the drum in a freezer, which turns the liquid into ice. As a result, the drum is very, very cold.
So as the drum rotates, the liquid is agitated and frozen at the same time, creating the basic ice-cream-like, or sorbet-like, or whatever, texture. Once this process is complete the result is stored in a freezer for a couple of hours to fully set up.
Update a week later: AskMetaFilter had this great thread on ice cream ideas and recipes. Some highlights:
When using fruit in an ice cream, add some vodka to the fruit puree. This will prevent the fruit from becoming rock hard, since vodka has a lower freezing point than water. This definitely became a problem in my strawberry ice cream.
There are several types of ice cream. What I made was Philadelphia-style (milk and cream). What many people are used to is French-style (custard-based).
You put in fruit chunks, or chunks of anything, near the end to prevent them from all sinking to the bottom while the ice cream is churning.