Monday, February 18, 2013

Side by side

I started making ice cream in July with a Cuisinart ICE-30BC. That sucker's a workhorse. Out of the three machines that I've used, this one took the least amount of time to churn (25-30 mins). One problem: you have to re-freeze the drum between each batch. (Well, this is only a problem if you want to make three batches in one day.)

After borrowing my sister's Lello 4070 Gelato Junior for some heavy churning over my "Winter Break," I realized that I needed to upgrade. I'm the kind of person who researches products for a year before finally buying something, but time was of the essence. So a year of research was condensed into a week, and I narrowed it down to my sister's model and the Cuisinart ICE-100, a new and improved version of the ICE-50BC. I ended up with the latter, but without the help of a side-by-side review. I was surprised (and slightly annoyed) to see that no such thing exists. So, here goes!

The Lello has a 1-quart capacity; the Cusinart has a 1.5-quart capacity. Point for Cuisinart! 

The Lello's motor is attached to the lid, which makes it really hard to clean; the Cuisinart's motor is in the base. This also allows for a bigger opening for mix-ins on the Cuisinart (the one on the Lello is practically useless!). Point for Cuisinart! 

Now's where I start to get nit-picky...

The Lello has a switch that turns on the compressor (aka the power switch) and then a button that turns on the motor. On the Cuisinart, there is one button that turns on the compressor and the motor at the same time. Although neither instruction manual tells you to do this, I like to run the compressor for 5-10 minutes to get the bowl cold before churning. Fortunately, if you press the Cuisinart's compressor/motor button twice, the motor shuts off and the compressor stays on. But that interface is just kind of annoying. Point for Lello! 

Like I said, I chill the bowl before adding the mixture. The compressor on the Cuisinart must have a temperature sensor, because it'll automatically shut off if I leave it for too long and it overfreezes, which is sometimes 5 minutes; sometimes 10. I then have to turn it off and wait a little before turning it back on or else the compressor won't start back up. Point for Lello for not being so finicky. (*Update: If the compressor shuts off, you can still start churning. As soon as it's back at the right temperature, it'll start back up.*)

Both the Lello and the Cuisinart have a timer. I find this feature silly, because there's no way to know exactly how long the churning will take. You can't start the Cuisinart without setting the timer, so I automatically set it to 60 (the highest it will go). When the Cuisinart timer goes off, the churning stops. The timer on the Lello doesn't need to be set, but if you choose to use it, it doesn't shut off automatically, and the beep at the end is not really that loud. So, it's pretty pointless. On both models, I find the timer kind of stupid. So in my opinion, this one's a draw.

Thought they're both about the same size, the Lello's motor on top makes it a weird shape and a little harder to store. Point for Cuisinart.

Finally, though I haven't tried it yet, the Cuisinart comes with a separate paddle that's designed for gelato and sorbet. Supposedly it incorporates air into the mixture differently. Possible but not certain point for Cuisinart. 

Since the Cuisinart is newer, I'd say I made the right choice. For me, the biggest draw was the canister size and the motor being located in the base. But you really can't go wrong with either machine.

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