What is an Ice Cream Freezer?

Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as an ice cream maker, the ice cream freezer has been around since the middle of the 19th century. The first versions were simple devices that allowed the ingredients for the ice cream to be placed in a special chamber. Ice was placed around the chamber, which was rotated with the use of a hand crank to allow the mixture to slowly harden. A small paddle in the ice cream chamber stirs the mixture, allowing it to slowly cool. In later years, rock salt was added to the ice, making it possible to lower the temperature quickly.

An ice cream cone.
An ice cream cone.

The manual versions of the home ice cream freezer are not much different from those first early models. The machine still has a central chamber surrounding by an area where ice and rock salt is placed. Many ice cream freezers for home use still make use of the hand crank, although there are models that make use of a small electric motor to rotate the central chamber. An ice cream machine for home use is relatively inexpensive and can be found in many discount retail stores.

Soft serve ice cream.
Soft serve ice cream.

Along with freezers for home use, there are commercial models that are utilized for restaurants and in mass production situations. These large scale freezers usually have a built in cooling system that is activated and allowed to cool to a specified temperature. Ingredients for the ice cream are poured into the device and the interior paddle activated. Upon finishing one batch of ice cream, the freezer is emptied and another batch may be poured into the unit immediately.

Unlike the home versions, a commercial ice cream freezer does not require a great deal of preparation and is not dependent on an ice and salt mixture to harden the ice cream. However, the commercial models are not easily relocated. This is due to the presence of the coolants used to freeze the ice cream. For this reason, commercial freezers normally are put into place and rarely moved.

By contrast, a home ice cream freezer can be stored easily, takes up relatively little space, and can be taken along for picnics and other outdoor activities. While there are many recipes for homemade ice cream, several commercial mixes are available in portions that are appropriate for the home ice cream freezer.

A home ice cream maker.
A home ice cream maker.

Discussion Comments


@Pippinwhite -- Yeah, those older electric ice cream freezers were very loud. We always put ours on the back porch so it wouldn't be so doggone loud in the house! It had an automatic cut-off so when the ice cream was done, it wouldn't burn the motor out. We would make it on Sunday afternoon before church, then pack the freezer with ice and newspaper and would let it "ripen" until we got back from church. I confess my thoughts were not really on the service when I knew there was also a freezer of ice cream waiting for me at home.


We didn't get an electric ice cream freezer until I was in my 20s, and that hasn't been that long ago! My dad used to pack our old hand turned one with the concentration of a chemist, to get the perfect proportion of ice and salt in the bucket.

We got the electric freezer, but my parents didn't like it as well. They said it didn't make the ice cream smooth enough. I don't know. I always thought it was fine, but my mom is really particular about homemade ice cream and she never was happy with it. Plus, it always made such a racket until it was done!

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