How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)

Last summer I found a White Mountain hand crank ice cream maker at a yard sale for $30. I was super excited at the deal I’d gotten, but I really wasn’t sure if the unit even worked. It looked pretty old, but all of the parts appeared to be there and the handle turned smoothly. We do have an electric ice cream maker, though I wanted to have a non-electric backup for off-grid situations. So, I sprung for it!


How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)


When it came time to test the new machine the kids were eager to help! Making homemade ice cream is a great summertime activity to enjoy with family and friends.

Here’s how to use an old fashioned hand crank ice cream maker…

I’m assuming you’ve already found an ice cream recipe that you want to use, and have pre-cooked and cooled it before preparing to put it into the ice cream maker.


How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)

Step One. Fill the bucket with ice and sprinkle with rock salt.

With the old hand crank ice cream makers you have to fill the wooden bucket with ice and salt to keep the canister in the center cold. To do so, layer the ice and salt, going heavy on the salt between layers. Fill the bucket all the way to the rim and top it off with salt to slow the melting process.


How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)

Step Two: Pour your homemade ice cream mixture into the cold canister.

After preparing your favorite homemade ice cream recipe, pour the cooled mixture into the metal ice cream canister. Be careful not to let ice and salt fall into the canister when you open the lid. (It might be better for you to pre-fill the canister with the ice cream mixture BEFORE adding the ice and salt to the bucket. See what works best for you. Just be sure the canister is already in place before adding the ice.)


How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)

Step Three: Crank that baby!

Turn, turn, turn! With my kids taking turns helping to crank the handle around and around it took about 25 minutes until the ice cream was frozen enough to eat. You may have to add more ice and salt if it melts down while you’re cranking.


How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)

Ice cream made the old fashioned way is almost always soft serve. You’ve gotta eat it fast ’cause it’ll turn into a puddle before your eyes, especially on a hot summer day! If you can’t eat it all at once, transfer the ice cream to a container to put in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy it.

As a side note, you might want to do this outdoors. We had water leaking out from the ice cream maker as the ice melted. This may be because our unit was older and the wooden slats had come a little loose. Just something for you to keep in mind.

It’s good to know our off grid ice cream maker works like a charm! Nothing beats a good homemade soft serve ice cream.

Surprisingly, you can still find these hand crank ice cream makers on Amazon! Anyone else out there have one that they love??

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13 thoughts on “How To Use a Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker (Non-Electric)”

  1. Yup,used to pick fresh apricots from the tree in my grandparents back yard who raised me. Grandpa and I would make hand crank home made ice cream (apricot of course). I moved to North Dakota and was shopping in a thrift store and lo and behold,I found an old hand crank wood barrel ice cream maker excelent condition for 4 dollars. Took me way back to the times. Haven’t used it as of yet,but plan to and with my nephew and his three kids who I suppose as many youth of this time haven’t the first clue.

  2. we had a White Mountain for years at home on the farm. to make the ice ream freeze faster we would turn it ever so slowly several times forward and then every so often reverse and crank backwards a few cranks just enough for wooden paddles to pull way the harder frozen mixture from side of can. back and forth several times. freezes in half the time. we used a lot of rock salt each time. then when you couldn’t crank no more it was done so at that time we would take part of ice out and pull out paddle piece being careful not to let any salt or brine get in cream can. whoever done most of the cranking got to lick the paddles. then we put a piece of wax paper on can and put a cork in hole on lid and then repacked with more salt and ice and covered the freezer with a wet old heavy burlap bag. NOTE always make sure the brine flow hole is cleared of any big chunks or rock salt and ice. you don’t want the brine level getting higher than the lid. the folks said it needed to ripen for at least an hour or so if you could wait that long. we never had a failure it was always so good since we had our own milk and cream. mom always used the Junket (rennet) and made it using the heating recipe which required to cook the eggs in the milk mixture. the junket went in after the mixture had been poured in the can and cooled a bit. then when the mixture just started to slightly clabber it was ready to set in the White Mountain and layer in the ice and rock salt. to get it going a little quicker mom always poured in about a quart of cold water to get the action going. gee I haven’t made it for years but I remember the process step by step.
    I think its time I bought a new one. going to cost four times what it did in mid 1950’s. but it’s worth it and a memory maker of summer.

    • Take Care of your White Mountain freezer. If you want the freezer to last you have to keep up maintenance on it. They are to pricey to replace when all it takes is a little extra care.
      first of all always rinse the handle assembly and moving parts with plenty of fresh water to flush salt residue. let it air dry and then oil moving parts with a lite grade oil such as 3n1 oil or a lite spray of WD40. turn it over with moving parts downward so any excess oil can drain out. as for the wooden bucket rinse it real good and use a medium brush around the metal wire bands to remove salt residue. otherwise it will eventually rust and break and staves will fall apart. always clean and grease (Vaseline will work) the can spindle in bottom of bucket. don’t forget to rinse, clean, and oil the latch lock. after you have cleaned the bucket always keep at least an inch or two of clean fresh water in bottom of wood bucket if you won’t be using it for awhile. otherwise without some moisture to keep wood hydrated the bucket will collapse and fall apart if it becomes to dry. salt is corrosive on metal parts and will suck needed moisture from wood staves. these tips will add years to the life of your White Mountain.

  3. You can set your icecream maker inside a large, shallow pan or bowl to catch any leaks or condensation. The best homemade ice cream I have had was churned in a giant ice cream maker by a pony walking in circles, led by amish children. It was a fund raiser. Yum!

  4. After cranking, we would throw an old quilt (doubled) over the entire ice cream freezer and let it sit (what felt like forever) and harden up, THEN we could finally eat it.

  5. When I was a kid my step-grandfather would always “force” us to make homemade ice cream when my cousins, siblings and I would come over for our grandmother’s birthday. Oh, how we hated having to do so much work when somebody could just buy a bucket from the store (my grandparents were quite wealthy) and be done with it!

    Now I absolutely cherish those memories of working for our dessert and we will be buying a hand-crank ice cream maker in the near future so our kids can experience the wonder of making their own ice cream too.


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