Old-School Ice Cream

How do old-fashioned ice and rock salt ice-cream makers measure up to today’s modern machines?

We compared two old-fashioned makers (one hand-cranked model, one motorized) with our favorite automatic machines (the Whynter SNÖ Professional Ice Cream Maker and the Cui­sinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt–Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker). We churned vanilla ice cream in each and tasted for density and iciness.

All four batches exhibited similar levels of iciness, but density, which depends on how much air is incorporated into the ice cream base, was a different story. Because the motorized rock salt machine turned the mixing paddle faster than the other machines, it whipped in more air and produced a relatively light, fluffy batch of ice cream. The manual machine was difficult to churn at an even clip for 30 minutes; as a result, its ice cream tended to be more dense than the motorized version’s. However, since both old-fashioned models required adding ice and rock salt multiple times during the churning process, we’re sticking with the automatic machines, which produced consistently dense results with no tinkering.


Old-fashioned electric models produce a lighter, fluffier ice cream than modern machines.

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