We decided to give this a go, buy an ice cream machine and make ice cream ourselves. We never really expected to get "better" ice cream, but it would allow us to experiment and also control what we eat.
So, on ice cream making, I would recommend to get some guidance on which parameters are important, what does what and why. A good cookbook should provide you with some insights. " The Science of Good Cooking" was of great help to me. That comes to say that not only the machine will ensure you a good ice cream. It will do two things: one is to stir your mixture and the second is to cool down your mixture as fast as possible.
Regarding the first item, stirring, depends on how the blade is designed and the torque of the machine (the thicker it gets, the more torque it will need). The blade part is a plastic part that is fairly well designed on the structural side. It is sturdy. It "hovers" over the bowl and rests on its rim. It is hold in place by a cam that is stopped by the transparent lid. That is a good and a bad idea (removing the blade is easy, but relying on the comparatively fragile lid, which may fall or get damaged, does not make me that happy). However, so far, no problems arose. The blade itself could be better designed for stirring, but the designers have achieved a cheap to produce and all right performance compromise. The problem is that the thickness change will affect the blade design parameters (the machine always turns at the same speed).
On the cooling side, the temperature of your freezer will be key here, I never had problems with just having the bowl overnight. Actually, when just storing the bowl in the freezer between uses, the coolant is still (largely) frozen solid after 30 min. On this regard I am very happy. one of the reasons of going for the larger bowl was the thermal inertia, and it does the trick.
The ice cream will come good if you understand how the ice cream works. I never used custard so far and it still comes creamy. I never tried the recipes with the machine. For one, the whole thing was in French and for another it is fairly complicated. I just keep it simple.
This machine is fairly more expensive than others with similar characteristics, just smaller. I have not tried any, so I can hardly compare but my impressions are that the price is a bit excessive. The reason is that there is no technology here at all. A motor, some gears, a knob for on/off and the bowl / blade arrangement. I see no reason for the big difference in price. Though I have not opened the machine, the gears are far from good quality and probably plastic or sintered. They are loud as hell and by the sound you can judge the balancing... That, together with the relatively cheap blade arrangement make me feel that the price is excessive, as I expected better quality (again, without seeing what you get on the other models I can't be sure) The bowl is good quality though.
I would say that the machine is all right, a bit expensive and worth on the coolant holding volume, that is larger than others out there. It does the work just fine, though much of the influence is on the recipe.
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