TechKnow: Ice-cream makers

It’s difficult to imagine how precious frozen desserts once were. Only enjoyed by society’s elite for millennia, they eventually became a more accessible but still special treat for the rising middle class. The arrival of reliable electric refrigeration finally made ice-cream, sorbet and gelato an affordable mass-market experience.

So why make your own? Even with high-end domestic ice-cream makers, a fair amount of time and effort is required, starting with the mix’s preparation. It’s certainly not for everyone, but some home cooks will enjoy going back to basics with natural ingredients, including fresh summer berries and mango. It’s essentially an uncomplicated process so kids can get involved too.

I tested Breville’s Smart Scoop and a Cuisinart model that’s simply called an Ice-Cream Maker with Compressor. Unlike cheaper appliances with double-walled bowls that must be chilled in a freezer for many hours before each batch, these high-end models continuously refrigerate the metal bowl that’s placed into the unit. So they’re good to go again after a fairly easy clean of bowl, churning paddle and lid. Their lids lock into position and have little covered hatches for safely adding mix-ins such as chunks of chocolate or nuts late in the churning process.


They produce similarly delicious results, but while the Cuisinart’s extreme simplicity of operation may be a virtue for some, others will prefer the greater control, features and feedback of the more stylish Breville interface. The latter’s smaller, more cylindrical bowl with a fixed drive-shaft cover is somewhat less accessible.



Breville Smart Scoop ice-cream maker.Credit:

The sleek interface includes a dial for selecting hardness, from soft sorbet through frozen yoghurt, gelato and ice-cream indicated on the LCD display. Other functions include pre-cool, keep-cool (up to three hours), manual timer and alert sound options including a cheery ice-cream-van tune. The cylindrical one-litre capacity bowl has an immovable central cover for the appliance’s drive shaft, so cooks with big hands or a determination to remove all the gooey churned mix may be frustrated.



Surprisingly, this pricier appliance’s interface is much simpler: touch-pad buttons for power, start/stop and time selection, and an LCD screen that essentially just counts down the minutes. The keep-cool function turns on automatically, but only for 10 minutes, and there’s no indicator for when mix-ins should be added, so some vigilance is required. Separate paddles for ice-cream and gelato are included, and the slightly wider 1.5 litre-capacity bowl rests on the drive shaft, enabling relatively easy access.


Summer means ice-cream and extreme ultraviolet radiation. Get real-time and accumulated data about your UV exposure with skincare company La Roche-Posay’s My Skin Track sensor and companion app. Like a small button on a clip, the battery-free sensor can be worn discreetly. It’s water-resistant for 30 minutes to about one metre, and also tracks humidity, pollen and pollution levels.

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