A hand crank ice cream maker is one of the few ice cream machines that gives you control over how fluffy or dense your ice cream will be. For some people, this is a much more important feature than the ease of an electric motor.
From light, well-aerated soft-serve to dense and rich gelato, it's all
at your fingertips – or in your elbow strength, to be literal. Another reason to choose a hand crank ice cream maker is the sheer nostalgia of the old fashioned
wooden bucket with a handle. You can feel like a pioneer in your very
own kitchen. To create the magical feel of yesteryear, take the bucket to the porch and let all the neighborhood kids have a turn at churning or at shoveling ice.
It's true that this is the most labor intensive of ice cream machines, but it's hard to imagine being able to create the same kind of kid-friendly family memories around a sleek, electric appliance in your kitchen. You can tote the bucket along to the beach, family reunions in the park, camp grounds … basically anywhere where you’ll be able to get ice and can bring the ingredients in a cooler … and make the churning as much a part of the day's activities as the eating.
A big advantage of this kind of machine is that you can make large amounts of ice cream in one go. (This is also true of electric ice cream freezers, which are basically the same machine with a motor.)
White Mountain makes the queen of hand crank ice cream makers, the kind of heirloom machines that you can hand down to your grandchildren. There are few others manual bucket freezers out there, to be honest, but when they do come along, the parts tend to fall apart or rust after just a few cranks. If you want tradition, this is the machine for you.
The other kind of manual ice cream makers, besides the old fashioned ice cream freezer bucket that requires ice and salt, is the one that uses a gel-filled canister.
Like gel-canister electric ice cream makers, these manual ice cream makers have a canister that must be pre-frozen. The big advantage: you don't need ice or salt. And because you no longer need ice or salt, they are little bit easier to churn. You simply take your canister out of the freezer, drop it into your machine, add your base, and churn away. Of course, you can't take this one to the beach – your canister would thaw on the way – but it is very easy to use and won’t hike your electricity bill.
At the moment, there is only one gel-canister manual ice cream maker on the market and that's the Donvier, a sturdy little guy that'll keep on churning a long time.
Click on the links below for our reviews of each: