Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pointless And Obvious Reviews, Vol. 2: My Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker's Agitator!

The Good: Generally durable, Does what it is supposed to
The Bad: Somewhat annoying to clean, Not indestructible
The Basics: It's a pointless product . . . until you destroy the one that comes with the unit, then it's nice to be able to find a new ICE-20PDL to make ice cream!

Every now and then, I am faced with a serious writing challenge and this time, I'm not sure how to meet it. I am a big fan of ice cream and I make my own ice cream using a Cuisinart ICE-20 ice cream maker (reviewed here!). I love that device and in advance of summer, I make so much ice cream using it, that I have found it necessary to purchase extra freezer bowls (reviewed here!) for the unit. But my latest accessory for it is one that might well be impossible to write about.

Because I have recently moved and my whole kitchen was in a complete state of chaos, I was moving my ICE-20 when I knocked into a counter and the agitator from the device ended up on the floor. The ICE-20PDL, the plastic device that sits in the freezer bowl to provide something for the rotating cream and other ingredients to be stirred by, landed on the floor and it was fine . . . until I stepped on it. In steel-toed boots. Hard. Yes, it was an accident, but as I stared down at the cracked device, I found myself horrified by the prospect of being without homemade ice cream. How would I get my fix of Chocolate mint with espresso jelly bean flavored ice cream?!

Fortunately, I quickly discovered that Cuisinart sells replacements for the ICE-20PDL and when I called the company for a replacement, I learned that mine was not even the worst horror story they had heard. So, what is this invaluable component to the ice cream maker?

The ICE-20PDL is a rigid plastic agitator specifically designed to fit into the freezer bowl of the ICE-20 ice cream maker. The top is a round wall that fits the top of the bowl. This part has fins on the inside so that when the clear plastic dome of the ICE-20 is put on, it can lock in. As a result, the ICE-20PDL technically remains stationary while the freezer bowl rotates around it. This bit of physics magic occurs because the bottom of the ICE-20PDL is a knob essentially, which fits into a groove at the bottom of the freezer bowl. Perhaps the best way to understand the way this works is by considering the ICE-20PDL like a toy top; instead of spinning the top, the ICE-20PDL is held stationary at the top, is pointed at the bottom and set into a rotating device, so the world revolves around the top, as opposed to the top spinning in the world.

Why is this at all necessary or important? When making ice cream, the ingredients need to be agitated (for volume) while being frozen (duh, because it is a frozen dessert). The freezer bowl takes care of the latter process while the ICE-20PDL takes care of the former. And how it works is because of the important stuff between the stationary top and the pivoting bottom.

The ICE-20PDL is essentially a series of connected spatulas or the hard-plastic equivalent of rubber scrapers. There are three fins that descend from the top to the bottom. They are angled so that the ingredients run into them and get mixed. They are connected at the bottom by a pair of fins - angled in opposite directions around the fulcrum - which also direct the liquid ingredient and help mix everything up. In order to prevent ingredients from sitting in the middle, the ICE-20PDL is cleverly designed with a fin in the middle which takes up only half the depth of the bowl. In order to connect this one to the bottom and side, another angled fin is used perpendicular to the descending ones, allowing for more agitation.

In the simplest possible terms, this is a series of interconnected fins that stir up the ice cream ingredients by having the ingredients rotated around it as opposed to having to stir the ingredients for half an hour by hand.

Because the fins go in so many different directions, there are a number of angles, corners and crannies that ingredients can (and do!) get caught in. This makes the ICE-20PDL annoying to clean by hand or with a washcloth. Fortunately, it can be tossed in the dishwasher and washed that way. Indeed, that might be the ideal way to clean it.

This is a remarkably specific product and there is no use I have yet found for it outside using it in the ICE-20 ice cream makers. It is a quality product and given how much it took for me to destroy one, I imagine most people will never need one. But if you do . . . well, they are available and they do exactly what they are supposed to.

For other Cuisinart product reviews, please check out my takes on:
Grind Central Coffee Grinder
Classic Round Waffle Maker
Supreme Grind Coffee Grinder


For other home and garden product reviews, please visit my hub here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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