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Planning Retirement Online

Be cool in the kitchen with a modern ice cream maker.

May 2011 

Ice creamHomemade ice cream has always been a bit of a luxury, and also a bit of a palaver; it necessitated careful timing and attention plus constant movement in and out of the freezer for stirring. When automatic ice cream makers became available, they were popular for a time but as people decided they didn’t really eat that much ice cream and certain aspects such as the cleaning was difficult, the idea of homemade ice cream faded.

Now there is a new generation of ice cream makers that are being hailed as the must have for modern kitchens. I am not sure about that, but for people who feel they deserve a bit of a treat in the kitchen, they can be excellent. Even better and one aspect that is helping their current popularity is that you can ensure all the ingredients are natural and fresh instead of peering at the ingredients to see if stabilisers, preservatives and emulsifiers have been added to say nothing of artificial flavourings.

Another great aspect of homemade ice cream is that you can make the flavour of ice cream of your choice using whatever fresh fruits are in abundance at the time plus you can experiment with all sorts of flavour mixes.

Modern ice cream makers are simplicity itself and also fast –you can make a lovely homemade ice cream in around half an hour; or of course it will keep in the freezer if you want to make it in advance (although homemade ice cream is best eaten within a few days).

All the ice cream makers available work around the fundamentals of making ice cream – the mixture has to be churned and frozen; the regular churning is essential so that small ice crystals do not form within the ice cream.

Under this parameter, there is quite a selection of modern ice cream makers. The top of the range models have a freezing mechanism built in so everything is contained in just the one machine. Switch it on to cool down while you gather the ingredients; then you simply pour the mixture in and switch it on. These machines are easy to use and easy to clean but the one drawback is the internal freezing units. These are quite complicated and can be damaged by constant movement. Therefore many manufacturers recommend that these machines be kept in place on your kitchen top rather than moved into a cupboard each time after use. This can work, and modern larger kitchens are already incorporating built in areas for an ice cream maker in the way that modern coffee machines have become an integral part of a kitchen.

But for many people this is impractical. There are models that work on the same principal but instead of having a built in freezer unit, they have a double walled bowl which needs to be frozen in your freezer before being placed into the ice cream maker. Then you add the ingredients, turn on, and the central paddle slowly churns the mixture as it freezes. The important thing here is to ensure the bowl is deeply frozen before you start.

A much cheaper version of ice cream maker uses a double bowl. The outer bowl if filled with a mixture of salt and ice and the inner bowl with the ingredients is place inside it. The salt lowers the freezing point of the surrounding ice (remember the physics from your school days?!) and as the salt melts it draws out the heat from the mixture, resulting in freezing the ice cream. There is usually a hand operated paddle which you turn at regular intervals until the ice cream is frozen and set.

There are now small ice cream machines that are made to operate within a freezer, negating the need for external cooling altogether. These incorporate automatic paddles to churn the ice cream mixture as it freezes but one disadvantage is that the freezer door has to be closed over the small electric cord which has to be plugged in to an external power point near the freezer. You also have to find room in your freezer to place the machine! Newer developments on this theme are cordless, battery-operated ice cream makers which can be placed straight into the freezer and save the need for that external power source.

The choice of ice cream maker is very much one of personal choice, but if you buy a modern machine from a reputable brand, you won’t be disappointed and can be certain of excellent results. Most machines will come with a full recipe book. Most machines will also adapt to make sorbets and other variations. No wonder ice cream makers are becoming the new cool look for modern kitchens!


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