Homemade ice creams make delectable treats, especially at small family parties or celebrations. But it could become truly frustrating when you set out to make your special/favorite ice cream and find the ice cream maker not turning. What should you do in such a scenario?
To get the unit working, stir the ice cream mix thoroughly and run the machine again. Add some rock salt or cold water to clear the jammed ice and rock salt coolant mix around the canister. If this doesn’t work, try with the unit loaded to full capacity. Also, check for stuck or damaged parts.
Ice cream makers are bound to occasionally run into minor niggles every now and then. Read on to know more about how these appliances work, why they stop turning when they do, what else could go wrong with the machine, and how you could fix some of the common issues.
How Do Ice Cream Makers Work?
An ice cream maker unit comprises a canister/drum to hold the ice cream mix and a motor to rotate the canister until the liquid mix reaches ice cream consistency. Ice cubes (a cooling agent) mixed with rock salt are placed around the canister. Some of the models may use ice chips instead.
When the unit is powered on:
- The motor rotates the canister set amidst ice cubes and rock salt.
- Rock salt melts ice, bringing down the temperature and causing the liquid in the canister to solidify along the outer edges.
- The dasher or paddle within the canister churns the liquid, aerating it in the process. It also scrapes off the frozen mix from the edges of the canister and blends it with the rest of the contents to create a uniform texture.
- The appliance stops turning when the mix within the canister reaches the right consistency.
Do note that it is the canister that rotates and not the dasher or paddle.
If you’d like to know how to make ice cream at home like they do at your favorite restaurants, watch this video:
Getting to the Root Causes
Ice cream makers may run amok for different reasons. As the appliance is quite compact, you may be able to detect and fix some of its issues quite easily.
As for the problem at hand, your ice cream maker may have stopped working/turning due to any of the following reasons:
- A jammed paddle or dasher
- Lack of or insufficient quantity of rock salt
- Unit not loaded to full capacity
- Electrical or mechanical faults
If the paddle or dasher is jammed, it is more likely that the frozen ice cream mix has built up along the edges of the canister, making it difficult for it to rotate freely. Also, too much of solidification at the edges may stop the unit from turning.
If you are stuck with a jammed paddle, switch off the power, open the canister, and check if the ice cream mixture has uniformly solidified. If not, scrape off the frozen mix from the edges and stir the ingredients thoroughly, and try running the unit again.
Missing or Little Rock Salt
Perfect homemade ice creams may not be possible without the right mix of rock salt and ice cubes. It is the salt that causes the ice to melt but doesn’t allow it to solidify again as it lowers the freezing temperature of the water. With less or no salt, it may be difficult for the canister to turn when the unit is packed with layers of ice cubes that aren’t going to melt any time soon.
Depending on the type or capacity of the ice cream maker, pack alternate layers of rock salt and ice to the brim of the canister. This is if you are planning to use the unit to its potential capacity. If you don’t have enough rock salt in the kitchen, buy Pro-Cure Bulk Rock Salt.
You may pour a cup of cold water over the ice and salt to prevent it from jamming. This allows molten ice to settle down and speed up the freezing process. When using manually cranked ice cream makers, you may be required to replenish ice and salt till the mix uniformly thickens.
If you are not utilizing the full capacity of your ice cream maker, the small quantity of ice cream mix can freeze quickly along the edges first and hinder movement.
The next time you make ice cream:
- Load your unit to full capacity
- Place ice and rock salt all around the canister, and
- Check if the batch turns out well.
For smaller batch sizes, you may need to run a few trials to determine how much ice and salt you’ll need to get the right consistency.
Rusted or Faulty Parts
A rusty motor, dasher shaft, or gears could also stop the canister from turning. Thick or balled-up lubricants may be playing spoilsport too.
If you notice traces of rust on any of the mechanical parts, it is time to dismantle the unit, clean it thoroughly, and lubricate it well. You’ll anyway have to disassemble the unit to check if any of the internal components are damaged or worn out.
In some ice cream maker models, the motor may not be easily accessible. You will have to remove a few other components to access the gear assembly and motor.
Start by checking for electrical connectivity to the motor using a multimeter. Also, assess the condition of the gear assembly. Use manufacturer recommended parts if you need to replace damaged or worn components.
If you cannot do the troubleshooting yourself, get a professional on board to help fix the appliance.
Other Common Issues With Ice Cream Makers
With excessive use, it is quite common for the internal parts of an ice cream maker to wear out or lose function.
- The motor may stop running
- The paddles may not turn
- The machine could get annoyingly noisy
The motor is likely to stop working if there’s a problem with electrical connectivity or dry bearings. Replacing electrical cords and lubricating the unit will resolve the issue.
Excessive noise may be caused by worn-out gears. If the ingredients do not mix uniformly, the paddle/dasher may need attention, but it may not be the only reason.
Ice cream consistency not just depends on the appliance’s mechanical parts. The temperature and ingredients of the ice cream base have a say too. If you pre-cool the mix or the canister for too long, the mix may freeze faster along the edges of the canister when you run the unit. You could face the same problem if you use less fat or sugar substitutes in your recipe.
Preventing Common Ice Cream Maker Niggles
Most of the common ice maker problems are easy to detect and fix. They could also be prevented if you keep up with the appliance’s routine maintenance requirements.
Thorough cleaning after every use is a must. It is also recommended you dismantle the unit, thoroughly clean it, and lubricate the internal components. Do this at least once a year so that your ice cream maker doesn’t break down when you need it the most.
In case you are planning to buy a new ice cream maker, invest in one with sturdy metallic components that last longer. Plastic parts have a short shelf-life and are prone to damage if the unit is put under heavy load, even if that’s occasional.
Ice cream makers usually stop turning when the liquid ice cream mix achieves correct consistency. That’s how you know the ice cream is done. However, if you find the mix in the canister to be watery, try resolving the issue using the aforementioned information. If the problem persists, contact the manufacturer (if the product is still under warranty) or talk to a local expert.