The attractive Aroma 4-Quart ice cream maker is charmingly old fashioned, with its appealing fir wood bucket and die-cast hand crank. If you get tired, you can switch to its electric motor. However, our tests showed that this machine is considerably more labor-intensive than some of the top-ranked products we reviewed, and you need plenty of patience to wait for the ice cream to finish churning.
The work begins the night before you want to make ice cream, as we learned from our testing. To get the best results, we suggest preparing and chilling your ice cream mixture overnight. If you skip this step, you’re likely to get ice cream with a consistency similar to a milkshake – it’s tasty, but certainly not the kind you dig into with a spoon. The manufacturer also suggests you chill the aluminum canister that holds the ice cream ingredients.
In addition, you need to fill the bucket 2/3 full with water and let it sit for at least an hour and a half before you use the machine the first time. It’s important to take this step because the water soaks into the bucket and expands the wood, which prevents the ice and salt from leaking out later. This is a great precaution but may be annoying if you're in a rush.
After you insert the canister into the wooden bucket and attach it, you add alternating layers of ice that has been broken into small pieces and rock salt. You then add cold water, and the machine is ready to start making ice cream.
This Aroma machine can churn ice cream using its electric motor, or you can spin the hand crank to churn it manually. The hand crank is easy to attach to the bucket and adds to the ice cream maker's nostalgia. To switch to its electric mode, you just flip the machine’s on/off switch. Most bucket ice cream makers need to be plugged in or unplugged to start or stop the motor, so the Aroma’s on/off switch is quite convenient. One of the only other similar units with an on/off switch is the Hamilton Beach 1.5 Quart 68880. The hand crank and electric motor are interchangeable, and you can use both on the same batch of ice cream. We suggest using the hand crank first and then the motor.
To get the most out of this old-fashioned Aroma ice cream maker, you need old-fashioned patience. Without proper preparation, it can take more than an hour to make homemade ice cream. This ice cream maker is a bit high maintenance because of its beautiful wooden bucket and metal parts. Also, it’s made up of seven parts, which is more than any of the other ice cream makers we reviewed. As such, it took 20 minutes to clean, which is considerably longer than the other ice cream makers we tested.