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White Mountain ice cream maker.One of the real benefits of old-fashioned ice cream makers is that they don't require electricity. This makes them especially well suited for outdoor gatherings like camping and picnics. Even if you already have a self-refrigerated or pre-freeze canister ice cream maker for kitchen use, consider purchasing a hand cranked model to bring back or make your own memories.

Choosing a model
You can still buy the White Mountain ice cream maker (now made by Rival) and even an electric version (shame on you) through a variety of retailers and online stores. There are a couple other makers from other manufacturers available online if you dig around a little, but it seems that Rival dominates the hand cranked market today. Unless you are actually feeding a dozen or more people at once, the 4 quart capacity model should be plenty. The model shown in the photos here is a 1930's era (at least that is what seller told me) White Mountain maker with a 2 quart capacity. This is the perfect size for most recipes on this site and in most ice cream cookbooks.

Hand cranked makers tend to get more than their share of abuse thanks to all the volunteers who offer to turn them, so look for a sturdy model without a lot of plastic. I've read some reviews that indicate that the quality of the White Mountain makers decreased after Rival bought them out, but I don't know this to be true first-hand. The variety of models and vintages of ice cream makers on eBay is impressive. Just make sure that the seller indicates that it works and the dasher is intact.

Make and chill your ice cream base.
Vanilla ice cream base chills in an ice bath.The ice cream being made in these photos is my Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, which has a subtle custard base and uses a real vanilla pod for flavoring. Prepare your ice cream base according to recipe instructions and then chill this to less than 45 degrees before freezing in your ice cream maker. Having pre-chilled ice cream base will shorten the churn time, minimizing the time for ice crystals to grow. If you aren't in a hurry, you can just chill the ice cream in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap, otherwise use an ice bath to quickly chill the ice cream. Fill a bowl with chopped ice and some ice water and then nest another, slightly smaller bowl, preferably metal, into the ice bath. Stir the ice cream and rotate the bowl in the ice bath frequently.

Prepare the ice cream maker.
No electricity required, just salt and ice.While you are chilling the base, you can get the ice cream maker ready. I like to pre-chill the canister a little, so I place the empty canister and lid in the bucket and start alternating layers of ice and rock salt around the canister, being careful to keep the canister centered and positioned over the bottom stud. I like to place a paper towel inside the canister in case an ice chip or salt falls in the top hole of the lid. Otherwise the ice chip will melt and re-freeze in the canister bottom making for difficult removal. Have a stool or chair handy for comfort and set up on a sturdy surface. Tipping the bucket while churning is not cool.

How much salt is enough?
Sprinkle salt directly on ice and alternate layers until ice is just below canister top.Although it's better to err on too much than too little, you don't need all that much. Depending on the size of your ice cream maker, you should really only need 1 1/2 - 3 cups of salt per batch. Be careful about packing the ice and salt too high. Even though any water will drain out of a hole on the side of most makers, don't pile the salt and ice much higher than the drainage hole. Keep the ice just below the top of the canister's lid, otherwise water and salt from melting ice cubes could be drawn in via capillary action. If you are situating your bucket on a lawn, be aware that saltwater will invariably leak out and that this will burn the grass below. A good soaking with a hose afterwards should minimize any damage, which would normally appear within a couple days.

Pour in ice cream and attach gearbox.
Once the ice cream maker canister is chilled (about 10 - 15 minutes) and the base is chilled, remove the canister lid and install the dasher. Pour in the chilled ice cream base, being careful not to fill the canister above 2/3 full since as the ice cream thickens it will move up the sides of the canister. If you have too much ice cream, you can save it for a subsequent batch (or even another day). Just be sure to keep the ice cream chilled in the refrigerator or cooler like any fresh dairy product. Replace the lid, affix the crank and secure the latch on one end of the gearbox. My ice cream maker is pretty old, so the gearbox assembly wiggles a little on the bucket, which can result in the latch coming undone. I remedy this with a little folded cardboard to fill the gaps. With the gearbox assembly tightly mated to the bucket, start cranking. A good sturdy surface for both your stool or chair and the bucket works best.

Start cranking!
For most ice cream makers, there is only one direction you should turn the crank or else the portion of the dasher that scrapes the side of the canister won't be pushed against the edge. Most White Mountain ice cream makers turn in a clockwise direction, looking from the handle side of the axle towards the bucket. Check your maker's instructions if you aren't sure. There is no need to crank super fast unless you have a long line of volunteers and tiring out isn't going to be an issue. Steady cranking at 1 - 2 revolutions per second is fine.

Pay attention to the level of ice and salt as you crank the ice cream. As the canister is spun the ice will melt and the level will inevitably drop. If it is really hot outside, you have a large capacity maker, or you failed to pre-chill the ice cream base, you may actually get ice water up to the drainage hole on your maker. It isn't necessary to pour out all of the water out unless ice is floating loosely and prevents more ice from being added. The ice water, which is now below normal freezing temperature thanks to the salt, helps conduct more heat away from the ice cream canister than cubes alone.

After cranking let ice cream stand in ice cream maker for 15 minutes.
Once you feel that the ice cream is pretty thick, usually indicated by strong resistance from the crank and the lack of fresh volunteers, you should let the ice cream ripen (i.e. harden) in the ice cream maker. Make sure the salt and ice level are up the to the drainage hole by topping off with ice and salt as necessary. Since the canister is no longer going to be turned you can also sprinkle more salt on the last bit of ice, but this isn't really necessary unless ambient temperature is really hot. Some people remove the dasher before ripening, but I prefer to only open the lid once you are actually ready to serve the ice cream. Let the ice cream sit covered in ice for 15 minutes and then carefully remove the ice and any salt from the top of the ice cream maker.

If you are serving immediately after making:
If you are serving the ice cream immediately you should leave the canister in the bucket with salt and ice. It's difficult to replace the canister in the bucket if you remove it, and leaving it in there will help keep the ice cream frozen. Lift out the dasher, scraping off the ice cream with a spatula back into the canister. Hand the dasher to a lucky recipient for tasty licking. Line up your hungry patrons and serve!

If you will be freezing most of it for later consumption:
If you are going to transfer the ice cream to another container, you can let the canister sit for one minute to soften the outermost ice cream, making it easier to lift most of the ice cream out with the dasher in a single piece. Scrape all of the ice cream into a dedicated, odor-free container and freeze in your freezer. Ice cream will continue to ripen more in your freezer after several hours.

Clean up ice cream maker.
Rinse off the bucket with plenty of fresh water to remove any traces of salt. This will help prolong the life of the unit if there is any metal on the bucket. The only other maintenance required is occasional lubrication of the gearbox using thick grease. Wash the canister and dasher with a mild soap and let completely dry before reassembling for storage.

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