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Making your own ice cream used to be limited to large family gatherings, where there were plenty of people to take turns cranking the handle of the machine. My grandparents had an electric model, and I remember them making fresh peach ice cream with almond extract at smaller family get-togethers. The ice cream makers created a gallon or more of ice cream and spilled salt water all over the floor. Because of the mess, this usually meant you had to be outside and the weather had to be warm.

When I was in high school I saw a Donvier single serving ice cream maker. It consisted of a small canister you had to place in the freezer overnight. At best, it made hard yogurt from soft yogurt. Today's pre-freeze canister makers offer motorized dashers and can produce very good ice cream. If you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars or more, you can also purchase units with built in refrigeration. These deluxe ice cream makers allow you to make batch after batch of ice cream with no freezer space lost to the canister.


We bought our ice cream maker at Williams & Sonoma back in 1996. I had never seen a home model with a built in refrigeration unit before. At $400, it wasn't an impulse buy, but 10 years later it continues to churn ice creams, gelatos and sorbets. Dianne and I both had experience with White Mountain hand cranked ice cream after leading many camping trips with Backroads. Churning ice cream in triple digit heat in Zion or the Grand Canyon's north rim was extrememly worthwhile, but the prospect of salty water dripping all over the kitchen floor quickly becomes a hassle. This nifty little appliance could sit tucked away, ready to make ice cream over and over at a moments notice.

After ten years of service, it occasionally gets stuck while churning if you don't monitor it towards the end of the freezing cycle. I have been on the lookout for a possible replacement should the need arise. I'm sold on the built in refrigeration, but if you are not willing to drop $250 on a cuisinart, the least expensive refrigeration model that is worth considering, there are a number of pre-freeze canister models that have received very good reviews.

Hand Churned

I recently bought an antique White Mountain ice cream maker off EBay in preparation for a camping trip to Yosemite. I was originally going to get a new one, but after doing a little research online I discovered that there are many people unhappy with White Mountain ice cream makers made after the company was purchased by Rival. Most complaints focus on the lack of durability of the gearbox. Some more searching online revealed a plentiful supply of pre-Rival models. One in particular caught my eye as it was a two quart model. Most are four or six quarts and I thought 2 quarts would be the perfect amount for a single-family camping trip. I bought it for $125 and it arrived shortly thereafter in very good condition. I overhauled the gearbox and then cleaned and greased all moving parts. It turns like a champ now.

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  1. Comment from Doc Smith 
    8:33 PM   03-Oct-2011
    I just bought a white mountain 2 Qt freezer. in good shape gear head and bucket is excellent . The pivot in the bottom of the bucket is missing. I will manufacture a new one and it will be ready for sweet nothings. I also have a 4 Qt that we used on the farm back in the 50's.

    Whole milk-- Fresh farm eggs - a little brown sugar a little lemon - and a box of Junket to make is smooth. Yummy for your tummy. I In those days U bought a block of Ice and put it in a burlap sack and wailed the dickens out of it with the flat side of an axe. That ice would be so cold it would stick to your fingers.
    1. Response from Brian
      11:51 AM   20-Nov-2011
      Hi Doc, yeah I love the 2 quart size as it is perfect for most home made recipes.
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