We all want to make the best and easiest ice cream using our ice cream maker. Here are some tips to get the best out of your time and effort. By following these tips you can make the process of preparing and serving your ice cream easy and hassle-free.
1. Pre-chill ice cream maker and storage containers
The first tip and most important tip is to pre-chill both your ice cream maker and storage containers beforehand. If your ice cream maker has a pre-chill feature then turn it on it before churning your mixture. This will help reduce the churn time. You should also pre-chill your storage containers before transferring the mixture to them.
Using room temperature containers causes the edge of the ice cream to melt even if it’s transferred to the freezer immediately. Pre-chilled storage containers result in a more consistent and better looking ice cream when serving.
2. Cool down mixture before churning
Always cool down your mixture using an ice bath and then in the fridge for an hour or two before churning. By letting the mixture “rest” before putting it in the ice cream maker the total churning time can be reduced.
I use a couple of reusable first-aid gel ice packs to bring the mixture down to approximately room temperature before putting it in the fridge instead of an ice bath as the first-aid ice packs are reusable and can also be shaped to press against the curve of the bowl containing the mixture. You may find it quicker to cool mixture in a aluminum bowl instead of a glass or ceramic bowl. Metal bowls conduct heat away much more quickly than other types.
3. Be prepared to transfer mixture from machine to storage containers
When the ice cream maker has finished churning it’s important to transfer the mixture to storage containers as quickly as possible. Prepare for a few minutes beforehand by clearing down bench top space, getting your tools and pre-chilled storage containers ready. Work quickly to minimize defrosting.
I like to have my pre-chilled containers laid out with lids close by. Have a spatula handy to get the process happening quickly so the ice cream can be in the freezer within a minute of churning finishing. I also like to have a plate to place the churning blade on as the leftover ice cream on the blade melts quickly and can drip everywhere.
4. Allow time for defrosting before serving
Home-made ice cream is usually harder than store-bought and it can be difficult to serve when taken straight from the freezer. You may need to defrost the ice cream slightly for between 5-10 minutes before serving it to guests. Be careful not to let it melt too much as this may ruin the ice cream. You can defrost either at room temperature or in the fridge. Different ice creams have different defrosting rates so making a dessert consisting of multiple types of ice cream may require some experience with making and serving that recipe.
The hardness of an ice cream depends mostly on the sugar content of the recipe. An ice cream with a higher sugar content will have a lower freezing point and thus will be softer at room temperature than a less sweet ice cream. A recipe containing alcohol has a lower freezing point than a recipe without alcohol.
5. Be prepared for serving
Once you have your ice cream defrosted and ready for serving make sure you have all your bowls and spoons ready for the serving process. You may even like to pre-chill your serving bowls. If you have toppings like nuts or sprinkles to add to your dish ensure they are ready to go as well.
Serving is the moment that everything else has been leading up to. All the work that you have put in to making, churning and freezing the ice cream usually results in it disappearing in only a few minutes! Enjoy the moment and remember that you can always make more of your favorite recipe.