Ice Cream Maker Maintenance
You bought a Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker because you’re serious about making homemade ice cream. Success! Everything is working better than you expected. You’re making a lot of ice cream but after a few months you notice that the part of the bowl that the dasher fits into is becoming harder to turn. Let’s check the instruction manual. Hmmm... There’s nothing in there about servicing the bowl. You see three screws at the bottom of the bowl. You think, “Maybe I should unscrew them and take a look.” You take the plastic disc off to reveal a mess of gray gunk. Blech! You take it apart being careful to remember how it all fits back together. Hopefully the little black o-rings are still in good shape. How did it get this dirty?
Ice cream mix apparently does leak into that area and collect around the spindle. It builds up over time and can damage the parts. A new bowl costs around $50 outside of the warranty period. Thankfully, I was within mine when I discovered the problem. I suggest unscrewing the bottom of the bowl and applying a food safe lubricant every few months. You can buy food-safe grease on Amazon, but regular coconut oil non-stick spray works great. The oil stays liquid and is high in saturated fat, so it shouldn’t go rancid.
Vanilla Ice Cream
What’s the most popular flavor ice cream? It differs by region but plain ‘ol vanilla usually makes it into the top three. Vanilla ice cream sounds almost trivial since it’s just sweet cream base plus some vanilla extract. Not so fast. There’s vanilla and then there’s vanilla. I use Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for just about everything that requires vanilla. You could also try Tahitian or Mexican varieties. They all have their fans. Some people aren’t satisfied unless they get their flavoring directly from the vanilla beans for their ice cream. Split them down the middle and scrape the insides off into the ice cream mix prior to or just after final heating. You can keep the used beans in a bottle of cheap vodka and over time it will become some of the best vanilla extract in the world. (At least, that’s what I’ve been told.) Then there’s the question of how much to use? I’ve heard the preferred amount of extract is two tablespoons per quart of ice cream. That sounds like a lot, but I suggest you try it.
I did a little investigative work a while back and I believe the source for LorAnn Oils Fountain Flavors is from another company called National Flavors. I got some samples of their products and gave them a spin. The Yellow Cake Batter Flavor (9898) was outstanding. I think this is what the Birthday Cake flavor was supposed to be. I was hoping their Cinnamon Spice Flavor (8812) would be the same as the Mexican Cinnamon sample I received from another source, but it sadly was not. In fact, it’s terrible. I suggest avoiding all of their flavors that contain cinnamon flavoring in it.
They only sell their product in quart and gallon sizes, so it’s not convenient for us part-timers. However, a quart purchase of a commonly used flavors might be worth it.
In my Philadelphia Ice Cream Base recipe, I direct the reader to stir the mix with a heat-resistant silicone spatula while keeping the temperature at a steady 161 °F for five minutes. A hand mixer at full-speed should be used for five minutes when the mix is transferred into a Pyrex mixing cup or bowl. Those five minute durations are not arbitrary. When I write five minutes, I mean five minutes. Humans are terrible at determining time duration especially when it’s doing something tedious like stirring a pot full of liquid or holding a hand mixer. Use a timer like the one on your microwave. You’d be surprised how long five minutes can be.
I have a smooth-top electric range. It used to drive me crazy when I first started making ice cream since it’s very difficult to maintain a constant temperature of the mix. I eventually got the hang of it: Set the heat to “6” and keep stirring while monitoring the temperature. I turn off the heat completely when the thermometer hits 160 °F. The residual heat from the range top is enough to keep the mix between 160 °F and 170 °F as long as I keep stirring. Well, that’s what I used to do. I had to tweak the method slightly.
The pot you see in just about all of my old recipes is gone. Its non-stick coating had worn off and there was no way I was going to continue using it. The new cookware set I purchased is a lot thinner. I have to cut off the heat from the electric burner at 150 °F instead of 160 °F. The proteins will coagulate if I don’t. I suspect the new pot is more susceptible to temperature spikes from the burner due to the thinner walls and bottom.
The moral of the story is that you need to take my directions as a starting point. Different stove-tops and cookware can give different results.
I always wanted to get a genuine Vitamix, but I couldn’t justify the expense. I had experimented with making my own almond butter using a food processor and the results were fantastic. Were they $500 worth of blender and blender accessories kind of results? Eh... Other expensive blenders like the ones made by Blendtec are great, but Vitamix usually comes out on top of the comparisons.
I discovered a blender sold at Aldi for under $80 that got really good reviews. The brand name is Ambiano and the blender physically resembles a Vitamix. You’d expect it to underperform against the premium priced models, but the comparisons against its higher priced peers are surprisingly close. Check out this video of the Ambiano versus a Vitamix 7500:
Can you use this blender instead of a hand mixer when making my Low Carb 11.5% Fat Philadelphia-style Ice Cream Base and Low Carb Chocolate Philadelphia-style Ice Cream Base? Yes! It works a treat. Getting the whey and casein powders to blend is difficult with a hand mixer. This blender makes quick work of the protein powders. I also made an interesting discovery: there’s a lot more overrun (air) in the final ice cream using a blender. There’s so much air that I need to cook the sweet cream base longer on the stovetop in order to increase the evaporation of the water in the mix. I also pull it from the ice cream maker sooner, especially when I’m planning to add mix-ins. The chocolate base freezes quicker, so the extra air helps keep the volume up. Therefore, no adjustments for that base.
This blender is designed for hot liquids. Ice cream mix is around 160 °F-170 °F, so there shouldn’t be any issues with the plastic container or rubber seals. Clean up with the blender is much easier than the hand mixer method. Rinse it out, add a little water with a couple drops of dishwashing soap, and run the blender for ten seconds. Rinse out the soap suds and let air dry.
The only downside using a blender is the potential for the hot liquid to explode out of the container and onto you and everything else that’s within a 5 foot radius. The top of the lid is vented to let hot air out, but there’s a limit to how much air can be pushed through that tiny opening. There’s an easy trick to prevent accidents like this for happening: Stir the hot liquid in the mixer for ten seconds by hand using a silicone spatula before putting the lid on. Hold the lid on tight, but be careful not to block the venting hole. Turn the blender on at its lowest speed. You may feel a kick from the rush of hot air trying to escape, but the top will hold. You should perform these steps quickly.
The blend times and speeds are very different than what’s required for a hand mixer. Remember the five minutes of electric hand mixing at its highest speed that I just wrote about in the above section? Completely wrong for the blender method. Blend for 15-20 seconds tops. I will be adding blender instructions for my two Philadelphia-sytle bases to avoid any possible confusion.