The Aroma 4-quart Traditional Ice Cream Maker, a throwback to the time when ice cream was churned by a hand crank, is a fun item to have at a party. Owners appreciate that once the novelty or the arms wear out, it's easy enough to switch on the electric motor. The maker is easy to use and clean, but several users complain of durability issues, including a flimsy crank.
Follow the directions. Owners who have successful results with the Aroma say that you must follow the directions carefully. The machine takes 7 to 14 cups of ice, equivalent to one to two medium bags, but it will make ice cream better if the ice is broken into smaller, coarse pieces. A couple of users start the process with the electric motor and turn it off when it seems to struggle. Then they'll hand crank it until it resembles a thick milkshake, which they transfer to the freezer to further harden. Ice cream takes about 45 minutes.
Easy and quiet. There are plenty of complaints about ice cream makers' loud racket, but the Aroma is one that is fairly quiet, users say. The machine comes with a wooden bucket that needs to be treated before the first use. You'll need to fill it up two-thirds of the way with water to give the wood a chance to expand, and let it sit for about 90 minutes. This way, the salt and ice mixture won't leak out. The machine is easy to assemble, but the canister is made of aluminum. None of the parts is dishwasher safe, but all are easy to clean.
Not a well-built machine. While the machine's pine wooden bucket seems nice, even owners who like the ice cream machine report that the hand crank doesn't work very well and is prone to breaking. Two of the first items to go are the flimsy hand crank and the weak plastic stirrer. A tiny metal pin is all that holds the plastic stirrer in place, and it's not enough to counter the ice cream as it solidifies, a Walmart.com owner observes. Another disgruntled owner, whose machine broke after the warranty expired, says the cost of the replacement parts plus shipping was half of the machine's initial cost.
1. Every Day with Rachael Ray
The author reports on the pros and cons of the top five machines she tested, but she does not reveal her methodology. The Aroma maker is good for large families, and the ice cream can be stored in the canister. But it's difficult to assemble and has a flimsy crank.
Review: Ice Cream Makers, Vivian Jao, August 2008
The Aroma ice cream maker gets an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars from 41 Walmart.com owners. About 80 percent would recommend the unit to a friend and appreciate having the electric motor take over when they got tired. But many gripe that the motor does not seem powerful and the hand crank breaks easily
Review: Aroma 4-Quart Wood Barrel Ice Cream Maker, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of August 2013