Is a compressor ice cream maker worth the higher cost when compared to an electric canister model?
When you start shopping for an ice cream maker, you’ll quickly discover there are three basic kinds of machines. Some are manual and some electric, but the main difference, regardless of how they are powered, is in how the machines freeze the base into an ice cream.
There’s the old fashioned method of surrounding the cream base with a mixture of ice and salt. There’s the more modern method of using a double-walled canister, whose walls contain a special gel. You freeze the canister overnight, then put it on its motorized base and pour in your cream base.
And then there is the compressor ice cream maker.
The last are in a league of their own – as you’re bound to surmise from the difference in price. Whereas canister models can be had for under $100, the cheapest compressor model costs more than twice that much. Can it really be worth the difference?
If you’re serious about ice cream, the answer is a resounding yes. Reviewers who compare these machines are consistently astounded by how much better the same recipe will turn out when made in a compressor model.
Basically, a compressor model is a commercial machine redesigned for home use. These are self-cooling units. The machines have a built-in refrigeration unit that freezes the cream base at a consistent temperature as it churns. The advantage to this is obvious – canister models start thawing the minute you take the canister out of the freezer, so while they do freeze the cream base, the temperature gradually gets warmer. This is why if you leave your base in an electric canister machine longer than the 20 minutes it needs to churn, or don’t work really fast when you transfer it to a container and then to the freezer, it will quickly turn to mush.
When the cream gets warmer, it looses much of the air that churning has whipped into it. Stick it in the freezer to ripen, and you get bigger ice crystals in it. This results in a denser, grainier product.
The consistent temperature you get from a self-cooling machine results in a dessert that is so much smoother and creamier than it’s hard to believe.
The other big advantage is that in addition to making better ice cream, you can make more of it in one day than you can with an electric canister model. Unless you stock extra canisters in your freezer, you have to wait at least 24 hours between batches when you use a canister. Once you’ve used it, you have to freeze the canister again before making another batch.
A self-cooling model, on the other hand, has nothing to pre-freeze. Plug it in, turn it on and you can make batch after batch after batch – all day long if you want.
A compressor ice cream maker gives you the opportunity to make a professional-quality product at home. Once you’ve tried one, it’s hard to go back to anything else.