Are you considering the addition of frozen treats in your new restaurant but don’t know where to start? Or maybe your current machine is not producing the consistency you expected? You’re not the only one! After walking many customers through the process of choosing the perfect cold treat machine, we have established some pointers to help with your decision. There are various types of frozen treat machines that are all suitable for different types of products. While the details may seem unimportant, they can actually determine the overall success of your investment. For instance, if you’re looking to sell gelato, a soft-serve machine would not be suitable for your needs. It’s extremely important that you buy the machine designed specifically for the product. If you are undecided or simply don’t feel educated enough to make a decision yet, we’re here to help! Let’s walk through the different types and how each machine works.
The type of mix you put in is what you will get out; regardless of the machine you buy. For example, to be considered ice cream, the mixture must contain 20% cream and 10% milk fat (check out the FDA regulations here). In other words, if you put ice cream mix in a custard machine, it’s still ice cream. But it’s not going to have anywhere near the same consistency as ice cream. Not only does the mixture make a huge difference, but so do other variations, including things like blend speed and air incorporation. Plain and simple, different types of frozen treats require different machines to accommodate the perfect formula. Here’s a list of each one and their main components
Soft Serve Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt
Soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt are similar in that they are both served from a dispenser directly into a cup or cone. Soft serve machines freeze liquid ice cream or frozen yogurt mix using agitation. In simpler terms, they combine your mix of choice with the perfect amount of air, the right temperature and the proper blend speed. The incorporation of air is what changes the product from regular ice cream to a dispensable, soft serve product. These machines seem pretty standard, but they are specifically designed to create the light, smooth texture sought after in ice cream.
Frozen drinks include everything from margaritas to smoothies and everything in between. These machines tend to be very compact while boasting a high capacity. Make sure you decide between non-carbonated and carbonated beverages before you purchase a machine. Carbonated machines incorporate air into the drink and non-carbonated does not. Also, keep in mind that the higher quality machines create smaller ice crystals. This means your product will not only be creamier, but it also means your customers will experience less of the dreaded “brain freezes.” If you’re looking for a flexible – yet simple – option that will cool off your customers, frozen drinks might be the route for you. Just be sure to note that these machines are made for drink products only.
If you are looking for something dense and decadent, custard might be the right direction for you. This type of frozen treat is made with 10% milkfat, cream, a little egg yolk and very little air to give it a heavier consistency than regular ice cream. Since custard is served from a dipping cabinet rather than dispensed directly into a cup, it requires a special type of machine. Continuous flow machines pour directly into the dipping cabinet, like the ones seen here. This allows for continuous production, which means more profit. The barrel in a custard machine freezes quickly and churns slowly, rather than using a big paddle like ice cream machines. As you can see, making custard has very specific guidelines, but with the right machine, you will be producing a gourmet ice cream in no time!
Gelato is an Italian ice cream that tends to have a softer, glossier texture. This specific product is created using 5-10% less milk fat than ice cream and is typically served at a warmer temperature. Batch freezers allow very little air while simultaneously scraping the product from the frozen barrel sides. These machines allow you to modify your ice cream while it is continuously churning, which saves you from the manual hassle later. Your gelato will dispense into the pan ready to serve!
General Machine Overview
Now that we have gone over several different products and the machines specific to them, there are a couple of general options you will encounter when buying your machine.
First and foremost, you should determine the volume, demand and capacity of your location. Based on this analysis, you will be able to decide between the various important options of each machine. You should do your best to estimate the number of customers your store services per hour during peak time. This will help you decide how many flavors and what size machine you need since almost all frozen treat machines will quantify throughput in servings per hour on their specification sheets. The footprint – or space available – of your location will determine whether you need a floor or countertop model. Countertop models are more compact, but generally have less throughput capacity. Mobility, is another key factor you will need to consider. Do you plan on catering events? If so, a countertop model will be much easier to transport.
Next you’ll want to choose between an air-, water- or remote-cooled machine. To do so, you need to evaluate the environment of the location for your new equipment. Water-cooled machines are ideal for hot environments and crammed spaces because the ambient temperature of the room is mostly irrelevant, with respect to their ability to cool the condensing unit. These machines will need to be hooked up to additional plumbing and will run up a water bill. Because of that, the water-cooled option is less common. Air-cooled machines are best in almost all other cases. They usually cost less to run and installation is less of a pain, however you may see more service issues towards the end of the dispenser’s life. A third option is to tie all of the frozen treat machines into remote condensers that are stored in a location away from the machines themselves, typically on the roof. This option is for extremely high volume operations that would realize economies of scale by only having to service one refrigeration system rather than multiple individual systems.
Lastly, you might see options such as “gravity-fed” and “pressurized.” Those options determine the “overrun,” or the amount of air introduced into the product. The amount of air introduced into the product solely determines the density. Gravity-fed dispensers typically produce product made up of 42% air, while pressurized machines push upwards of 60%. You’ll have specific control of the air content with most pressurized machines, and more importantly, the higher air content translates into a lighter product that also uses less mix, and using less mix means higher profitability!
Interested in a frozen treat machine? Check them out here.