Most ice cream makers intended for use in the home are fairly compact. They are designed not only to churn up delicious ice creams, but to be convenient to store when not in use. They generally churn 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream at a time. This amount is fine, given that most ice cream recipes (including my own!) are scaled to meet this size, but I don’t know many people who buy ice cream by the quart at the grocery store. If you’re entertaining more than a handful of people, you’re going to need more than a quart!
For those who really like their ice cream, there are machines that are made to make a lot of it – without having to shell out the big bucks for a commercial machine. In a recent issue, Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2015) put some of these plus size machines – machines that can churn from 4- or 6-quarts at a time – to the test. The test kitchen looked primarily for the quality of the finished products, testing both vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. In addition to ice cream quality, they also took note of how easy the machines were to operate, how noisy they were and how much they cost.
Their verdict was that you might be better off purchasing additional canisters for a small machine to facilitate multiple batches, since all the machines they tested had some drawbacks and you may have to compromise on some features to get the batch size you want. The winning machine, which was “Recommended with Reservations,” was the White Mountain Wooden Bucket 6-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker. This machine churned out a big batch of ice cream easily and quickly, however it is extremely noisy and messy to operate, so testers recommended this machine only be operated outdoors. It was also the most expensive machine in the test with a price tag over $250.
The runner up was one of the least expensive machines in the test, the Sunbeam 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker, at about $40. This machine was also “Recommended with Reservations” as it did offer a lot of value, but it didn’t turn out ice cream that was quite as good as the White Mountain machine and required frequent refilling with ice and salt to keep it cold during churning.