Frozen fruit to soft serve ice cream?

"Turn frozen fruit into creamy and delicious healthy desserts." Aldi catalogue


As we all know Christmas is coming. My daughter-in-law tells me that her daughter (my granddaughter) would like an electric hand mixer - so I thought I would see if I can find a cheap one somewhere. K-mart perhaps. But that leaves me with the dilemma of what equivalent thing to buy her sister.


Today we got the new Aldi catalogue and in it is this which they call a 'Frozen treat maker'. It's a knock-off (of course it is) of an American gadget called a Yonanas. It's actually a pretty simple concept - you put frozen fruit in, turn on and out comes soft serve ice cream - well something that looks like soft-serve ice cream but is actually just frozen fruit. What's not to love about that?


Too good to be true? Well perhaps and then again perhaps not, although I think it probably helps if you like bananas. As one reviewer put it:


"the mix, I have found needs to have a larger portion of bananas for the ice cream to be creamy. This ice cream maker wouldn’t suit anyone who does not like banana ice cream, which I found out were my kids!"


Why bananas? Well this produces a sort of 'nice cream' that I think I wrote about ages ago. I guess the bananas provide the creamy texture. The original Yonanas machine is part of the Dole empire, an American multi-national agricultural company which is, according to Wikipedia, the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world. Which is saying something. Bananas I think are one of their major products.


To step back a bit. The machine is quite small, and not very expensive, which is a reason to consider it as a gift. You freeze fruit, thaw it slightly, put it into the machine, and out comes your soft-serve ice cream type of product. Well this is what one reviewer said it looked like when it came out. They were talking about the Yonanas machine of course. The Aldi machine may be different. But easy enough to make it look good I guess.


Now the Yonanas company, and several reviewers say that you don't have to include bananas and Pinterest has a gallery of tempting pictures of non-banana fruit sorbets and things. I think if you don't put in bananas you get something more like a sorbet. However, it's difficult to tell if that's a good thing or not. Many say that it is fine without bananas, one reviewer even said her best effort was a yoghurt and blueberry mix.


Oh and here I learnt a new word - 'froyo' = frozen yoghurt. Well I suppose it's obvious when you see the meaning, but I didn't guess it. I'm just showing my age.


Back to the banana controversy though. I also saw one rather angry person who said:


"Every fruit I have used - all it does is come out as minced and crushed icy fruit. NOTHING like the creamy ice-cream like consistency they show. Am I missing something? Do I have to add ice cream, or milk? But instructions don't show that. All I get is crushed up icy fruit! Tried different fruits, no difference. Just a crushed up mess."


There were two other criticisms that kept on popping up. The first was noise which many seemed to think was quite horrendous, although somebody else said it just sounded like a blender, and besides it was not on for long. The other was wastage - what was left in the machine. Apparently this can be quite a lot, but as one lady said you can easily scrape it out and add to your mix. I suspect I'm probably with her on that one. The noise too. And even if it is easy to clean - they all seem to agree on that - yes it's one more thing to clean, disassemble, reassemble ...


I don't know how long these machines have been around, but I have to say it some ways it sounds tempting. I do have an ice cream maker, but it is large and pushed behind my electric mixer, so not instantly available. And it's a bit more of a chore in that if you want to make 'proper' ice cream then you first have to make your custard. It's a process. Even making a much simpler frozen yoghurt - sorry - froyo - is also a more complicated process. Quite doable, but not instant, or almost instant.


That said, you would need to plan in advance to use one of these frozen dessert machines, because you would need to have frozen fruit always available. And even for that froyo - also possible apparently - the yoghurt needs to be frozen. I guess if you were doing this all the time, then it would be routine.


Apart from the speed of the thing it does seem that it is a really good way to get kids to eat fruit. I mean who doesn't like ice cream? Whether they would like sorbet is perhaps a bit more of question. And opinion didn't seem to be in favour of freezing the result - it became too hard - though perhaps you could make icy poles. They need to be hard.


Then it's also good for all those food problems:


"People who love ice cream but are lactose-intolerant, diabetic, or vegan would probably love this machine."


The real problem for me though is that this is consumerism gone made really. It's a one trick pony that is going to take up space in your kitchen (not a problem for my granddaughter), and will ultimately end up in landfill, without having been terribly useful in between purchase and an earthly grave.


Well I'll think on it, but ponder on other more useful gadgets. Now a pasta machine would be good but they tend to be rather more expensive. Also a one-trick pony I guess, but a better one. Maybe that pie maker that I didn't actually buy in the end. Will check it out.


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