Types: Soft serve equipment freezes liquid ice cream mix under agitation. The ice cream is dispensed directly from the unit's freezer into the serving container (cone or cup). Soft serve equipment holds the product in this frozen state for long periods of time until portions are dispensed.
The various types of soft serve equipment include single flavor, twin twist (two separate flavors that can be served separately or twisted together), shake and combination units that will serve cones and shakes.
Capacities/Footprints: Capacities range from 3.5 gallons per hour (roughly 100 3.5-ounce or 100-gram servings per hour) to twist units that can produce 15 gallons per hour (roughly 425 3.5-ounce or 100-gram servings per hour) per side, for a total of 30 gallons per hour (850 3.5-ounce or 100-gram servings per hour). A unit is available that produces up to 50 gallons per hour. Footprints range from: 157/8˝ x 24¼˝ to 26˝ x 36½˝.
Energy Source(s): Most equipment is available to be used on a range from 208 to 230 volts, either in single or three-phase power.
Standard Features: Within the family of soft serve machines, there are two different types: gravity and pressurized. With gravity-fed machines, mix is stored and refrigerated in the hopper located on the top of the freezer. A mix feed is positioned in the opening that connects the hopper and the cylinder. As mix is pulled by gravity into the freezing cylinder through the bottom of the mix feed tube, air is drawn in through the top of the tube. Once in the cylinder, the air is blended into the mix by the beater shaft. When the product is frozen, it is ready to be dispensed. The auger on the beater shaft pushes the product out of the cylinder.
Pressurized machines freeze the mix the same way once the mix and air enter the cylinder. These machines use a mix transfer system that pumps the mix from a container located in a refrigerated compartment below the cylinders up to the cylinders. While the mix is moving up to the cylinder, metered air is incorporated into the liquid mix.
Batch freezers are used to produce hard ice cream and are offered in different sizes. These can produce a variety of frozen desserts, including high overrun ice cream, low overrun ice cream, Italian ice, sorbet, gelato and sherbet.
New Features/Technology/Options: The latest soft serve freezers' functions are controlled by a microprocessor. These control interfaces have icons on touch screens for simple operation.
Manufacturers have reduced the amperage on motors where possible so electric consumption is reduced. During periods of low demand switches on the machines allow the operator to reduce the frequency that the refrigeration system cools, which also reduces electric consumption.
Key Applications: Soft serve equipment is used to dispense ice cream, custard, frozen yogurt and sorbet.
Purchasing Guidelines: Understanding the capacity needs of a business location is key to selecting the right equipment. Look at the electrical requirements of the machine and verify that it can be accommodated in the building.
Product mix will also dictate the machine used. If milkshakes are to be hand-blended from a soft serve machine, a larger freezing cylinder will be needed due to the average serving size of a milkshake. If cones are the only ice cream on the menu, a smaller barrel size is warranted. If offering both milkshakes and cones, a middle size freezing cylinder or special combination machine can handle both products.
Maintenance Requirements: Always follow local health codes regarding cleaning. Unless volume is extremely high, cleaning soft serve machines should be done at least twice a week for optimal performance and product quality.
Changing scraper blades on a regular basis is a critical maintenance item. When scraper blades are not in good condition, they leave a film of frozen product on the cylinder walls.
This layer builds up and acts as an insulator, so it takes longer to freeze the product. Another key to maintaining air-cooled refrigeration equipment is to clean the condenser(s) at least once a month. Dust, lint and debris can build up on the condenser and cause some of the same symptoms as not changing the blades.
Food Safety Essentials: Regular cleaning and sanitizing is critical. Follow the manufacturer's instructions; use the recommended procedures, brushes and cleaning/sanitizing chemicals.