An ice cream machine uses a refrigerated chamber and agitating mixer blades to turn cream, sugar, milk and flavorings into ice cream. But an ice cream machine can also make frozen yogurt, sorbets, slushes and frozen beverages such as daiquiris. Professional cooks often use an ice cream machine to create new variations on frozen custards or Italian gelatos.
A commercial ice cream machine uses a long cylindrical metal tube as a freezing chamber. A special mix of cream, sugar, milk, and flavorings is poured into holding tanks accessible from the top of the ice cream machine. A certain portion of this mix is drawn into the metallic freezing chambers, which are surrounded by refrigerant lines. An agitator assembly consisting of two spiralling blades also fits precisely inside the freezing chamber. Powerful motors attached to one end of the agitator blades cause them to stir the mix and introduce air for volume and creaminess.
As the ice cream mixture becomes more firm, a dispenser unit in the front of the ice cream machine comes into play. The finished ice cream is held in place by a tube connected to a handle. When the handle is raised, ice cream is dispensed into a bowl or cone. Operation of a commercial ice cream machine is foolproof enough to allow customers to dispense their own portions. As long as the ice cream machine is kept filled with ice cream mixture and the freezing chamber is functioning properly, quality ice cream should be available.
An older version of a home ice cream machine involves placing a metal container in a mixture of salt and ice. The ice cream mix is then added to the container along with a paddle-shaped agitator. A powerful electric motor attached to the agitator keeps the mixture in motion as it freezes. When the agitator can no longer move freely, the ice cream is ready to serve. Modern kitchens now use ice cream machine models similar to the larger commercial units. Mixes are added to freezing chamber and allowed to become firm. A small dispenser allows the finished frozen product to be served in bowls or glasses or cones.
Those interested in purchasing an ice cream machine for home use may find quality units at larger department stores, in the small appliances section. Specialty kitchen stores also offer gelato machines, frozen beverage makers and other forms of ice cream machines.