I've been making ice cream at home for a few years now and tend to have pretty mixed results with how firm my ice cream gets. Even with all the precautions I've learned to take (chill the ice cream maker in the freezer for several days, chill mixture in the fridge overnight, let maker churn in a cool room, etc. etc), I still have some days where it just doesn't work. I attribute most of this to my really crappy fridge. In my small NYC apartment, we have what is pretty much a glorified bar fridge (I think the brand is Summit). The temperature is really finicky, and there is only one dial for the whole unit, not separate ones for the fridge and freezer. So to get the freezer cold enough for the ice cream maker, we usually end up with frozen milk and orange juice. It's a huge pain in the ass and we usually play games where we turn it down for a few days before I make ice cream, strategically move as many items as we can (which is hard because the fridge itself is so small), then turn it back up once the ice cream is made.
All of that being said, I also have a fairly low-end ice cream maker. It's a Hamilton Beach, I think 1.5 quart capacity. I paid like $30 for it about 6 years ago. I've been thinking that maybe it is time to upgrade and am looking into the Cuisinart model for $60 (ice cream/frozen yogurt maker). My question is: do you think that part of my troubles with the ice cream setting up could be at all attributed to the ice cream maker? Do you think upgrading to a better model will help the situation at all? If it's all due to my crappy fridge, it may not be worth spending the money right now.
As is, even when I do get it to firm-up properly, it is still VERY soft-serve. Like slushy texture more than soft-serve ice cream. That makes me think that maybe the ice cream maker has something to do with it. I did read something somewhere online recently that said that the Cuisinarts get the ice cream firmer than some of the other models, so I was hopeful.
Any thoughts, anyone?