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Is an ice cream maker worth it?(r/Frugal)
Listen my man, I’m gonna rap at you about ice cream for a second. Now I’m not approaching this from a ‘frugality’ standpoint, I’m approaching this from an ICE CREAM perspective, so if you’re trying to just shave a few cents off of your micromanaged budget, move on, but if you wanted to be ENLIGHTENED about producing your own frozen dairy bliss, put your reading glasses on because I have a lot to say.
First off, should you make your own ice cream at home? Yes. It’s not because it’s cheaper, although it is if you make and consume large quantities of ice cream (which you should be doing if you want to enjoy life to its fullest.) It’s not even because homemade ice cream is significantly better or higher quality than storebought although it certainly can be, and often is. It’s about variety and experimentation man. Do you know what flavor you can make ice cream? Fucking any flavor you want buddy. Any goddamn flavor you can think of. Baskin Robbins can fuck off outta here with its 31 shit flavors, once you get your braingears turning, there’s no limit to the flavors you’ll think up. All this cotton candy flavor, rainbow swirl, brownie chunk bullshit, leave that to the basic bitches, if you want to elevate your ice cream game, you pull your head out of cold stone creamery’s asshole, get yourself a copy of The Flavor Bible and let loose. Once you see past ‘traditional’ flavors, you can take such a trip of pure imagination that Willy Wonka will seem like Forrest fucking Gump. Between fruits, spices, essential oils, florals, liquors, butters, cheeses, honeys, herbs, vegetables, candies, baked goods, cereals, coffees, teas, beers, wines, god every fucking flavor under the sun can be put into an ice cream and if you’re smart about your pairings and ratios, it can be delicious. Think ice cream is just for dessert? My dude, open your eyes to the world of savory applications. Wasabi, sweet corn, sriracha, tomato sorbet, my god man there is a whole world to explore. And it’s all really easy. So much easier than you think.
So how do we make it? If you’re looking at like an 80$ ice cream model, I want to tell you what it is and what it does. It is a big bowl. The bowl is insulated and filled with a chemical that gets super cold and stays cold. The bowl gets cold and then it spins. A stationary blade in the middle of the bowl ‘churns’ the ice cream. In about 30 minutes, you get a soft churn ice cream that you then need to freeze for a few more hours to set up. So you wake up and you think “I wanna make ice cream today!” Sorry bro, you gotta put that bowl in the freezer for like 24 hrs first so it gets cold enough for the job. More importantly, the ice cream you get out of it ranges from not so good to pretty good, but it never feels quite as smooth or velvety as that primo haagen dazs shit. It can be frustrating. What’s the point of ice cream if it’s not up to par, you know? You put in all that work, you get all excited, and it’s just ‘ok?’ Kinda grainy? Fuck that noise dude. If you wouldn’t at least consider for a fleeting second, that you might suck a dick for a pint of this shit, then you’ve wasted your time. You’d suck dick for Haagen Dazs – why not this?
The smoothness of an ice cream (this smoothness is essential to a man’s happiness in life) is based on how it freezes and the size of the crystals. The faster it freezes, the smaller the ice crystals are, and the less grainy it is. So if you want to be savoring that fluffy, smooth frozen cloud of taste as it melts in your mouth, you want something that freezes the ice cream as fast as possible. Commercial ice cream machines are hulking and expensive, but they do this. The Pacojet has become a very popular machine, it basically superfreezes a mixture quickly and then blitzes the hell out of it once frozen. Also out of a normal man’s price range or needs unless they’re running a restaurant or something.
~~Liquid Nitrogen~~. Ok so you don’t want to deal with it/it’s hard to procure, you need a Dewar flask, etc, alright, all fair points, I’ll back off. Second best thing? Dry Ice. Call your local grocery stores, one of em probably has it. It’s pretty cheap too. Buy a stand-mixer. I know, I know, they’re not cheap and this is /r/Frugal, but they’re so goddamn versatile and useful, the important thing is you will get your money’s worth with a standmixer with the overall use of this if you cook decently often, where you will not get your money’s worth with a one-use item like an ice cream maker. It will sit awkwardly on your counter taking up space, it will take half a fucking shelf in your freezer if you want it ready to go, it is a waste. A stand mixer is not. If you can pony up for a Kitchenaid, it will meet all your needs and some additional purposes can stop you from ever posting a thread asking if a meat grinder or sausage caser or electric pasta roller is worth it because those are all add-ons.
So here’s what you do. You make your ice cream base, let it cool in the fridge (again, the quicker the freezing takes place the better, so let’s not start with a hot mixture.) You pour it in your stand mixer, paddle attachment. You crack your dry ice into chunks then blitz it in a food processor or blender (it will not hurt these things) until you have dry ice dust. Put the stand mixer on medium-high. Start spooning in the dry ice dust (really, avoid chunks, get the dustiest of the dusty). Spoon after spoon, all this fog will come out of your stand mixer as it sublimates, you will feel like a badass scientist, and that shit will set up beautifully. Scoop it into a container and toss it in the freezer for an hour (not strictly necessary, but I like to let it set up just a touch more and this also gives any stray dry ice the chance to sublimate so you dont accidentally eat any which would be bad news.) The best part of this is, you can wash the bowl, set it back up and make a different batch of a different flavor immediately. You can’t do that shit with an ice cream maker. Once one batch is done, you need to wash the bowl and refreeze it for a gajillion hours before making a second batch. I made 3 ice creams in one night with this (avocado wasabi ice cream, fromage blanc sorbet, and champagne mango gelato with a chili-lime swirl – try picking those up from food lion) And the actual churning process took like 5 minutes per.
Smarten up kid. Buy a stand-mixer. Find a dry ice supplier. Be free, my brother.
EDIT: Re-reading this after all the comments, I just realized I typed in whisk attachment when I originally posted this, but I actually use the paddle attachment; I don’t know if the whisk works or not, my guess is it does, but when the mixture gets really thick, it might not be able to stand up to it, so go paddle. Edited the body to reflect this.