Forget the ice and the rock salt; it's easier than ever to churn a batch of homemade ice cream with a new wave of fully automatic ice cream makers.
Automatic ice cream makers fall into two categories: those with built-in refrigerator compressors and those with pre-freeze bowls. The compressor ice cream makers have built-in refrigeration units that enable you to churn ice cream with no advance chilling of the parts or the mix. They are fast (usually 30 minutes or less) and can make multiple batches. The cost of convenience is the weight; many of the compressor machines approach 40 pounds. The pre-freeze models are more affordable, but require the bowl (insulated with a special liquid to create even freezing) to be frozen before use; multiple batches require multiple frozen bowls. Traditionalists need not fret, hand churn makers are still available.
REFRIGERATOR COMPRESSOR MODELS
Above: Leave it to the Italians to create the elegant Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker with all-stainless steel construction. Fully automatic and timer controlled, the machine shuts off automatically when the ice cream becomes too hard. Comes with a 1.5 quart bowl and a one-year warranty; $693.57 at Amazon.
Above: The Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker has a 1.5-quart bowl and LCD touchpad display. Creates ice cream in approximately 60 minutes. Reviewed well for results but is said to be louder than other makes; $299 at Sur La Table.
Above: The DeLonghi GM6000 Gelato Maker gets high marks and is known to be especially quiet. The bowl, paddle, and lid are dishwasher safe; $247.99 at Amazon.
PRE-FREEZE BOWL MODELS
Above: The Cuisinart Stainless-Steel Ice Cream Maker is a simple pre-freeze cannister model with a generous two-quart capacity; $89.95 at Williams-Sonoma.
Above: The Cuisinart Classic Ice Cream Maker with Extra Freezer Bowl offers simple one-switch operation and a 1.5-quart capacity; $89.95 at Williams-Sonoma. The Cuisinart Classic Ice Cream Maker is available in several colors for $59.95 at Sur La Table.
Above: Turn your KitchenAid mixer into an ice cream maker with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment. The double-insulated bowl has a 2-quart capacity and requires 24-hour pre-freezing; $79.95 at Williams-Sonoma.
Above: White Mountain Appalachian Series Hand-Crank Ice Cream Maker features a wooden bucket, stainless steel cannister with lid, and a cast iron dasher (paddle); $179.99 for the 4-quart size at Amazon.
Above: Get inspired with recipes from San Francisco Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones; $14.98 at Amazon. Note to San Francisco ice cream lovers, Bi-Rite Creamery is opening a second location in NOPA soon.